August 29, 2008

Augustine and Mom Monica

Since I started blogging here over a year ago, I thought I would have blogged about Augustine, but I didn't. The 27th is St Monica's day - she's Augustine's mother. One of my books calls her 'the nagging mother'. Why? Because for the conversion of both her pagan husband and her lusty heretic son to Christianity, she wept, she sobbed, she sniveled ... Augustine finally left his mistress and became a Father/Doctor of the Church. Rather than just nagging, I'd add that she was probably a prayer warrior.

The 28th is Augustine's day - Augustine of Hippo (not to be confused with other Augustines)(Hippo is in North Africa). His Confessions tells us of his life - "Like water I boiled over; heated by my fornications," is the way he put it. His innate passion is a character trait that would continue to dominate the rest of his life, even after he committed himself to a chaste and virtuous Christian life. (Innate traits can either be channeled for bad or good. Rather than trying to beat the bad out of me, I've seen it as "ME", and pray for it's transformation, desiring to live loving God and my neighbor.)

One of Augustine's main barriers to Christianity was his passion for intellectual pursuits. Augustine was attracted to Ambrose's secular scholarship, not his Christianity. Ambrose knew pagan philosophy as well as he knew scriptures. Augustine was affected by both Ambrose's head and heart. Augustine also had a 'mystical' experience of a voice telling him to "Take up and read" scripture. After a long tortured battle of the soul, Augustine was converted to orthodox Christianity under Ambose's ministry - much to the relief of Monica.

In 410, Rome was besieged and pillaged by barbarians. Jerome was in Israel working on Ezekiel and cried out, "If Rome can perish, what can be safe?" Though Rome was pestered by barbarians more, it was this ransacking that started Augustine's thoughts, like Jerome's, to write City of God. Though its been used more for its analysis of the great culture war between truth and error, it was written from Augustine's soul's passion, of the need for putting hope in God and not in an Empire/Government.

Aquinas tried to bring peace between Augustine's harshness and Aristotle's concept of a merciful shaper. Calvin learned predestination from Augustine. Augustine is one of Christianities' foundational persons. One of his most used books is City of God. As Europe was crumbling from barbarians attacking and destroying everything, St Patrick with a saddlebag of books, including City of God, returned to Ireland with its uninvaded tranquility, preserving literature until Europe was ready to take them back.

On his deathbed, August 28, 430, the Arian Vandals were destroying the city.
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