Memorial of Saint Augustine
Today’s first reading could easily serve as a description of today’s saint, Augustine (354-430). Paul writes that the Thessalonians found faith not through the words of Scripture alone “but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” In his Confessions, the first autobiography in Western literature, Augustine records his experience of Word and Spirit that led to his conversion. In Confessions, he writes, “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new; late have I loved you. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you . . . You were with me, but I was not with you. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
Augustine is well known as a son who came to faith after his mother had prayed for many years for his conversion. Born in North Africa of a pagan father and Christian mother, he abandoned his mother’s faith and traveled a long road from pagan philosophy to Christian theology, from a dissolute life of casual sex (he fathered a child he called Adeodatus, a gift of God), to life as a monk, priest, and ultimately Bishop.
When he was on the brink of conversion, Augustine tells God, “I thought I heard your voice from on high: ‘I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.’”
Now and then, we might want to pray another incredible Augustine insight: “You have created us for yourself, O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I may be holy always. (Saint Augustine)