Congregation

Late have I loved Thee: Saint Augustine – Relevant for Our Time

Sunday, January 28, 2018 | 1:00pm

 “Often the contempt of vainglory becomes a source of even more vainglory, for it is not being scorned when the contempt is something one is proud of.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Saint Augustine, also known as Saint Augustine of Hippo, was born on November 13, 354 in Tagaste, Numidia, now a part of Algeria. He died on August 28, 430 AD. Considered one of the great Christian theologians, his feast day is August 28. His original Latin name was Aurelius Augustinus.

In this two-part series led by Paula Mays, we will examine and celebrate two of Augustine’s most important works that, to this day, continue to have a great influence on the church: The City of God and Confessions. These texts are widely available to read and to download online for free. See Christian Classics Ethereal Library and Gutenberg.org.

Dates/times:
City of God: January 28, 1-2:15
Confessions: February 11, 1-2:15
Open to all. RSVP required: [email protected]

Background:
Augustine’s parents were of the respectable class of Roman society of limited means. They managed, sometimes on borrowed money, to acquire a first-class education for Augustine, and, although he had at least one brother and one sister, he seems to have been the only child sent off to be educated. He studied first in Tagaste, then in the nearby university town of Madauros and finally at Carthage, the great city of Roman Africa. After a brief stint teaching in Tagaste, he returned to Carthage to teach rhetoric, the premier science for the Roman gentleman.

The observable facts about Augustine’s religious history are that he was born to a mother, Monnica, who was a baptized Christian and a father, Patricius, who was a pagan and who took baptism on his deathbed when Augustine was in his teens. Monnica became more demonstratively religious in her widowhood and is venerated as St. Monica. She is known to have prayed for Augustine’s conversion from paganism.

The City of God

By the time of his conversion, St. Augustine sought to answer the criticism that the falling Roman Empire was due to the fact that many had turned to Christianity. In one of the most important works in Christianity, Augustine examines the realm of God as compared with human society. The book deals with issues such as the suffering of the righteous, the existence of evil, the conflict between free will and divine omniscience and the doctrine of original sin.

What is the relevance of this seminal work of the church to our present time? Rome ruled the world at one time. The Roman Empire put itself in the position of God. St. Augustine informs those who were impressed in their own power in Rome that God is the real power. Instead of blaming Christianity for its failings, Augustine teaches that the realm of God is the true realm, not the Roman state in all its glory.

The Confessions

St. Augustine’s work, the Confessions examines his conversion to Christianity. The work consists of 13 books, which is critical of his “sinful” self who worshiped astrology and other things which are an abomination to God.

It is estimated that Augustine began the work around 397 AD when he was 43 years old. Prior to his conversion, he subscribed to Manichaeism, one of several Gnostic religions that flourished during this period. Gnostic religions promised believers a secret knowledge, hidden from non-believers, that would lead to salvation. Manichaeism held that darkness and the physical world were manifestations of evil, while light was a manifestation of good.

One writer says, “Augustine constantly gives praise to the God who mercifully directed his path and brought him out of misery and error. In essence, the Confessions is one long prayer.” Source

  • Admission
    • Free: RSVP required
  • Dates Offered
    • January 1, 1970 |