September 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 157


Sister Lucy's GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER column for September 1, 2000

Saint Augustine is the august saint not only in August but each and every day!

        The Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo has just passed. It is celebrated in the universal Church on August 28th, but consideration of the life and holiness of Augustine is appropriate at any time.

        Augustine was born on November 13, 354. His father was a pagan who refused to allow Augustine to be baptized. By the grace of God, however, and most likely due to the prayers of his saintly wife, Monica, Augustine’s father was converted on his deathbed.

        Augustine sought sin and all manner of evil things from his earliest youth. He had lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30. He fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means the gift of God. He experimented with several philosophies and religions, being a Manichaean for several years. Augustine had broken almost every Commandment but came to realize by experience that living a loose and sinful life is NOT the way to happiness.

        After seeking intently for the true religion, he was moved to convert to Catholicism after hearing a sermon of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. Undoubtedly again, it was the prayers of his mother, who had prayed for him for over 20 years, that helped bring about Augustine’s conversion.

        Augustine is a saint for today because so many people are seeking happiness in materialism and impurity like Augustine did. But as stated, Augustine learned by experience that loose living was not the way to happiness.

        Not only did St. Augustine become a Catholic, he became a priest. Not only did he become a priest, he became a Bishop. Not only did he become a Bishop, he became a great saint and Doctor of the Church.

        Augustine had written the story of his life and sinful ways in a book called "Confessions." Though Augustine lived in the fifth century, some say that after the Bible his book is the most popular and most read. Augustine’s life should be a source of encouragement for everyone. I would venture to guess that most saints in Heaven were not saints from their birth. That is, most people have need of conversion during the span of their lifetime, even if they were born Catholic.

        Augustine wrote a rule which many religious orders today follow. It is a very practical way of living for religious which is centered on the love of God and neighbor. Augustine himself founded several religious communities.

        He fought many heresies of his day including Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. Augustine had the following sentence written in large letters on the wall of his room: “Here we do not speak evil of anyone.”

        Augustine practiced great poverty, supported the poor, preached often and prayed fervently until his death at the age of 76.

        “Too late have I loved You!” he once cried out to God. But with his holy life, he certainly made up for the sins he had committed.

        We, too, can obtain the mercy of God as Augustine did. Let us learn from Augustine that the only thing that really matters is God. If God has His rightful place in our lives, if we place God first in our lives, everything else will dully follow for God takes care of His own and He is not outdone in generosity.

        God bless you!

    Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

September 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 157

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