St. Augustine

Friends in the Lord, yesterday was the Feast of St. Monica. Today is that of her son, Augustine. St. Augustine was born in 354 in Tagaste, North Africa, present day Algeria. His mother was a devout Catholic, but his father was a pagan.
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Augustine was very bright, and he went off to studies, to school, in the city of Carthage. He studied Rhetoric, which was great speaking and the mastering of oratory skills. Such talents were very useful in Rome and in the halls of the Senate, perhaps he would one day have such a career.
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But he also was like many young people today. He was searching. Searching for answers to the great questions of life: why do I exist, what happens after death, what is my purpose, is there nothing more?
Like many today, he couldn’t possibly believe that the pious religion of his mother actually held the answers to these great questions. He joined a religion called Manichaeism. It was the New Age religion of its day, borrowing dualistic ideas from the East.
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But he still had questions. Those in this religion promised him, ‘Once you meet Mani (their founder), his wisdom will answer your questions, you’ll see’ Finally he did meet Mani – but Mani had no clue about his questions. Augustine found him to be rather over-rated.
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Loaded with talent, but lacking wisdom, Augustine followed a lifestyle which plunged him deeper into sin and moral evil He moved in with a woman that he was not married to. They had a child out of wedlock, and he felt more and more empty without God. Grace was luring him, pulling him, but he resisted.
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For all his worldly and professional successes, he was restless. Later he would write: ‘Our hearts are restless O Lord, until they rest in Thee.’
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His mother kept praying, and grace kept pulling. Having gone to Rome, and while visiting Milan, curiosity brought Augustine into the Cathedral.
Walking in, he heard the chanting of the psalms. He said, ‘those chanting voices of Christians overflowed into my ears; truth entered my heart and tears gushed forth.” There he met Bishop Ambrose. Talking with him, he found that the answers to his great questions were answered in Jesus Christ. As it turned out, the religion of his pious mother had the answers all along.
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In 387 on Easter night, he was baptized. It was his mother’s dream. He would become a priest, and a bishop, and one of the greatest minds the Church has ever had.
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If you have not read his book, the Confessions, go out today and buy it. There he writes these words, from one who spent many years running away from God: Late have I loved you, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you.

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