Doctor of the Church
- Born in North Africa to well-off parents. His father was a pagan and his mother was Catholic, St. Monica. His father cheated on her, as was normal for the pagan men of the time, and may have even beat her, but he converted on his death bed.
- At that time and in that area, children were not baptized until they became adults, so Augustine went into the world without Baptism. However, his mom wept and prayed for his conversion from the time she noticed that he was beginning to fall into sin. When he was 16, he was sent to a university-type school where he advanced and gathered some notice for his intellectual abilities. While there, he met a woman who became his mistress until 385. She bore him one son when he was 18 years old.
- Although he was profoundly advanced in philosophy at that time, he fell for one of the errors of the day—Manicheism (they believed that evil and good were not only opposite but equal; this is where body bad/ spirit good began–puritanism). After awhile, he began to feel disturbed about their strange ways, so he left Africa and went to Italy.
- There, he tried to open his own school but grew discouraged after he found that students would leave right before it was time to pay. He decided to listen to the famed St. Ambrose, the bishop ofMilan, who was well respected for his grasp of philosophy. It was at this time that Augustine decided to read the works of Plato, beginning to see errors in the Manichean thought. His mother followed him toItaly, wanting him to settle down and get married. For a short time, he took on another mistress instead.
- When he was 32 years old, Augustine began feeling miserable for his intellectual, moral, spiritual and physical confusions. While he was visiting with some friends, he heard reports of conversions that led men to give up everything to serve Christ, then he accidentally or incidentally found some letters from St. Paul lying on someone’s table. Before picking them up, he had to remove himself from those around him and go to the garden because he started crying. He wanted God to save him from his misery, from his sins. He thought that God was mad at him. Right at that time, a child in a neighboring house was singing, “Take up and read. Take up and read.” So, he returned to the house, picked up the letters fromSt. Pauland the first thing he read was “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities; not in contention and envy; but ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.” He shut the book and told his friend who was in the room what had just happened, and they both resolved that day to follow Christ.
- He immediately retired from teaching in the university and went out of town for the next 7 months with his family and friends and began writing. When he was 33, he became baptized with several others, including his son (15) who would die soon afterward.
- The next year, he moved back toAfricato pray, fast, do good works, meditate upon the Word, and write, living in a community.
- When he was 37, he was ordained to help the local bishop in Hippo.
- He began to write works that proved the errors of the Manichees, Donatists (believed you had to be perfect before you could receive any of the Sacraments, including marriage) and Pelagians (believed that there was no such thing as Original Sin and didn’t believe that Baptism did anything but make you part of a club that would be in heaven) and also stopped things like family fights, which were street amusements at this time, and feasting that was occurring in sanctuaries.
- He created rules for the men under his leadership, gathering a significant community.
- He witnessed theRoman Empire’s beginning collapse.
- Some of his works: Confessions, City of God, On the Trinity, On the Merit and Forgiveness of Sins, etc…He offered them all to the discretion of Bishop in Rome, believing that he had the final word on all of his works.
- His works would be the standard for philosophy and Christian education for the next 800 years until St. Thomas Aquinas in the 1200’s took it a step further.
- see “Authentic Masculinity, Lived” for references