Restless Heart by ert634


									        Restless Heart
The Story of Augustine's Conversion
              Malachy Cullen, O.S.A.

                First published by
                Augustinian Press

        Published in electronic form by
 The Augustinians of St Augustine’s Priory, Camira

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        This is the story of one of the most interesting people who ever lived. He was a great sinner, a great genius, a great lover and
a great saint. He wrote three hundred books. His name, Augustine.
       Are you a schoolboy? Here is a story of a clever schoolboy who lived over a thousand years ago.
       Are you are university student? H ere is univ ersity life of old - rioting students and all.
       Are you an intellectual, inclined to de spise the Christian faith? This is the story of one of the proudest intellectuals ever,
who, as he said once, "barked like a dog at God and his Church."
       Are you , above all, a mother, worried about you r children? Here is the story of Monica, one of the mo st famous of m others,
and the power God gave her to save her son.
       He was born in 354 A.D., in what is now called Algeria, in the days when all North Africa was part of the Roman Em pire.
He spent most of his life in Hippo, a city on the Mediterranean Sea, now called Annaba. North Africa then was like one great
garden, full of cities, towns, temples and churches. About half the people were pagan and the rest Christian.
       Augustine sp oke the native Punic language, but w rote and studied in Latin, the language of R om e. Th e m ost remarkable
thing about him is that w hen already a great m an, in Africa and Europe, he wrote the story of his sins for all to read . He called it his
Confessions. In it he tells of his evil deeds, his struggles with God, and his great joy when God found him.
       Here then is the book of the Confessions of Saint Augustine, made short and simple for you.

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                                                              My Story

Father and Mother
        My name is Augustine, and this is the story of my life. I write it to praise you, my
God, for I lost you, and was m iserable; I fou nd you, and was happy, and no w I love to
praise you. I write it also for other sinners like myself, so that they too may find peace.
       My father was Patricius, a pagan and a rough and angry man. My mother Monica
was a Christian, one of the sweetest and best of women. At that time husbands often
used to beat the ir wives. W hen the wive s cam e to dra w water at the w ell, they used to
cry and show one another the marks of their beatings. They wondered why my mother
never had marks to show. They said, "Monica, your husband is a very angry type of
man, and he commits adultery with other women. Yet you never quarrel, and he never
beats you. W hy is this?"
         My mother answered, "The one thing I want is peace in our home. I know that
he follow s other w omen, but I do not abuse him. W hen he is angry with m e, I am silent.
I just pray to Go d in m y heart until he has finished shouting. Later o n, whe n he is quiet,
I tell him why I did this or tha t. Tha t is my sec ret."
       She taught me to pray to you, my God, as soon as I could speak. Along with my
mother's milk I drew in the sweet name of Jesus your Son, my Saviour. And no matter
how bad I became afterward, I could never forget that name. She taught me to fear
death and judgm ent, and it was this that drew m e back at last from the m outh of he ll.

                                                                                                 Patricius and Monica
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Primary School
         I hated school. I could not see the use of all the things we had to
learn . Instea d of doin g my lessons, I u sed to run aw ay to play football,
which I loved. My teachers flogged me cruelly for this, and to escape the
beatings I told them en dless lies.
       I dreaded those beatings. Small as I was, I used to pray hard to you,
my God, to save me from them. When my elders saw the marks of the
whip on my body they only laughed, as if it was a small thing. But to me
those beatings were very terrible.
        At ou r gam es I cheated the other boys, be cause I always wanted to
win. But if I caught one of the oth ers cheating, I w ould abu se him furiously
for d oing the very thing I had don e m yself. And if I m yself was caught, I
would fly into a rage rather than give in.
        My teachers told me that I must study hard so as to become
somebody important in this world. But what use was that when they taught
me nothing about you, O God of my life? They taught us to read the
stories and plays of G reece and Rome. Bu t what were these , O m y holy
God? Nothing but stories of the fornications and adulteries of so called
gods and godde sses.
       But I loved those stories, and they crept into my heart and
corrupted it. I used to steal money from home to go and see them played
on the stage. Then I would talk about them with other boys, and we longed
to do the evil things we saw done there. And our teachers praised them,
and did the same things them selves.
       You, O God, light of my heart, you know that one sentence from
your holy Gospel would have been better than all this. What use was it that

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I could judged best speaker in my class? People praised me and said I would become a famous man. But I was already far away
from you, my King and m y G od. Already I was on the wide road to hell.

Delay of Baptism
         While I was a schoolboy I fell sick and was very near death. I had not yet been baptized. I begged my mother for the
baptism of Christ m y Saviou r, to wash away m y sins and make m e your child. She w as ready to have m e baptised by but be fore it
happened I got well, so she put off m y baptism until later. That was a bad custom of those days. Parents often put off the baptism
of the ir child ren. The y were afraid that a child m ight grow up and becom e very sinful, and spoil his baptism . So they put it off until
he was a man, and had gotten over the sins of his youth.
       And so, O G od of my heart, I was not pu rified by your baptism . And I had not the m edicine of your saving sacra ments
through m y youth, at the very time I need ed it m ost.

Secondary School
       When I was sixteen I went to secondary school, far away from home. There I fell in with bad companions. I became an
animal; I burned for all the pleasures of hell. All my thoughts were of lust and impurity. And though I was rotten inside, I was clean
outside. I wore fine clothes and used perfume, and thought myself a very fine person.
       I confess the evil things that I did, not because I love them now, but that I may weep for them. I confess them for love of
your love, O my God, you who are Love without end.
        My one delight was to love and to be loved. But what I called love was mainly lust. I could not distinguish the calm light of
love from the fog of lust. I was drowne d in a river of sexual de sire and unchaste actions. Like a pot of boiling water, so was I
tossed about and boiling over in various rank and furtive love affairs.

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                                                     My Drift from God

         I forgot you, O God of my life. I closed my ears to you. I went farther and farther away from you, O God of love. Yet you
were silent and patient, while I wandered into more sins and sorrows. For I was not happy. My sins made me bitter and proud and
sad. I tried to find rest for my heart in more and more sins. But they only made me more sad and dark. For that is your way, O God
of mercy. You pour bitterness into our bad pleasures, to make us turn away from them and seek our joy in you.
       It is true that you have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
        Oh, if only someone had been near to warn me an d to say, "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God!" Bu t there
was no on e to help me . My teache rs were the kind of men who w ould be ashamed to make a mistake in gram mar, but w ould boast
of their adulteries.

My Idle Year
       After secondary school I came hom e and spent a year doing nothing. M y father was gathering the m oney to send me to
Carthage for tertiary studies, to study literature and what was then called rhetoric. It included law and the various arts of speaking
publically and persuasively. During that idle year I went from bad to worse.
        My mother trembled with fear to see me on the edge of hell. She warned me. She begged me not to sin with women, above
all with another man's wife. But I lau ghed at her. I loo ked on her warnings as foolish wom an's talk, not fit for a man. And yet, O
God of my heart, it was you who warned me through her mouth, and when I despised her I despised you.
        I was one of a gang that wandered the streets at night, looking for evil. I used to be ashamed before the others if I did not
do things as ba d as they did. The y used to boast of their e vil deeds, and the w orse the d eed the louder they boaste d. And I my self
did the sam e things, not only for the pleasure of the act, but for the pleasure of boasting after.
       I even boasted of sins I had no t com mitted , so that my com panion s migh t praise m e and say, "W ell done !" I was ash amed to
appear innocent an d pure. We even did evil for the sake of evil. In a neigh bor's garden there w as a huge pear tree, loaded with fruit.
We went one night, stole all the pears, and ca rried them off in sacks. We did not even eat them but threw them to another man's

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       Such was my heart, O God , such was my heart. I wanted no profit from my w ickedness, but only to be wicked. My mother
should have told m e to get m arried to calm my lust. But no , she was too am bitious for me. She w anted me to go to the university
and bec ome a great man, and she thought that a wife wou ld hinder m y studies.

My University Days
       At the age of seventeen I went to the University at Carthage, a great seaport. It was full of people from all over the world,
and full of all wickedness. There I had complete freedom. Lust and impurity were all around me. I plunged into it. I was not in love,
but I was in love with loving, an d m y love was only lust. I w as never satisfied until I had en joyed the bod ies of the w om en w ho said
they loved me.
       And still I was unhappy. My heart was sick. My heart was dea d, becau se yo u were not in it, O G od of life. I tried to fill it
with these sinful loves, and still it was empty. For you alone could fill it, O God of love.
       But I did not want you. I hated to think of you. I hated anyone to talk to me about religion. I hated the pure, calm lives of
good C hristians. I wanted to love and to be love d -but not by yo u, my G od. All this time I did not truly love anybody exc ept myself.
       Then at last I did fall in love. I took the girl to my room and lived with her. But I would no t marry her in church, for I
planned to m arry some other woman later on. And so I sinned against you, my go od G od, and aga inst her, and against myself.
        Even then I was not happy. For I was always jealous and suspicious of her, and we were always quarreling. And so I learned
the difference between such a life and a Christian marriage blessed by you, my God, my K ing! But was my life truly a life?

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Success in Studies
       I studied hard, and kept clear of the rioters. These w ere a gang of stud ents who called themselves the O verturners. The se
fellows wanted to be leaders. They were always looking for an excuse to start riots and demonstrations. Then they would march
about shou ting and smashing windows and fu rniture. If a professor displeased them they wou ld rush into his classroom, overturn
his desks and chairs, and beat him and his students.
       I kept clear of these. They were like devils in the way they went on. By the time I was twenty I had mastered all that my
professors could teach me. My subject was law, which included literature, philosophy, mathem atics and, above all, public speaking.
      I won the prize for public speaking and was crowned chief student of the university. But what use was it all when I did not
know you, O Light of my heart? My success only puffed me up with pride.
       During my years at the university my poor father died. But, by the power of my mother's prayers, he had believed in you,
Lord Jesus my Savior, and was baptized before he died.

Study of the Bible
       About this time I read a book by Cicero. In lovely language he urges us to rise above the pleasures of the body, and to seek
the wisdom and love of God. Then I began to long for you once more, O God of love. I opened your holy Bible to read your own
words. B ut I was too proud to understand the m, for m y heart was blinded by pride. Ind eed your Son Jesus, m y Saviou r, spoke truly
when he said , I thank you, Father, because you have hidden these things from the people who think they are wise, and revealed them to the little ones.

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                                                  My Pride and Foolishness

       I was not a little one. I was not humble. I did not wish to hear words like Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the
kingdom of heaven. And Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. The w isdom of your wo rds seem ed too simp le for me, for I
thought I was a great man.
        So I closed you r holy book an d wen t back to my madness.

I Abandon God
        Until now I had always believed in you, my God, and in Jesus my Savior, even though my life was bad. But now I joined the
atheist party in the university. They were called Manicheans. They posed as the "intellectuals", clever people who knew everything.
       They said, "You Christians are fools. You believe all that your priests tell you as children. We intellectuals believe only what
we can prove by our own reason. Your Jesus was a deceiver. Your Bible is only a collection of stories. There is no such person as
         They said, "You Christians worry about your sins. You feel guilty when you commit adultery. You should not feel guilty. For
it is not you who sin. Inside yourself there is darkness and light. They are at war with one another. When you sin, it is darkness that
does it, not you . You are not to blam e. So do w hat you like, have a good tim e, and do not feel guilty."
        How I loved that doctrine! It was just what I wanted. It suited the pride of my mind and the lust of my body. Never to feel
guilty for m y sins! Never to have to confess them ! No authority over me! W ond erfu l!
        And so they fooled me, O God of truth. Like them I began to mock your holy people, your Bible and your Church. For nine
years, until I was twenty-eight, I was caught in those lies. I was dying of hu nger like the Prod igal Son, and I tried to fill my heart
with the food of pigs. And yet you alone are true food . You alone are life, life of souls, life of lives, and you do not change, O Life
of m y sou l.

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I Open a School
        Since my father was dead, my mother could pay my university fees no longer. So I left Carthage and came home and opened
my own school. The best young men and boys of the town became my pupils. Some of these were Christians, others were preparing
for baptism. And I confess to you with tears, O my G od, that I mocked their faith and destroyed it. I drew them from you, O G od
of light, into my own darkness. I was doing the devil's work for him.
       My mother warned me to stop. I only laughed at her. Even at my mother's table I mocked you, my God, and Jesus my
Saviour. She ordered m e out of he r house, saying, "N ever again will you eat at my table while you talk like this!"
       So I left her, and wen t to live with friends.

My Mother's Prayer
        Yes, I had abandoned you, my God of love, but you did not abandon me. You
were listening to my mother's prayers. Because m y soul was de ad, she wept for me m ore
bitterly than other mothers weep when their children's bodies die. I was a dead soul
walking about in a living body.
        She prayed for m e at Mass every morning, and at even ing prayer, and at every
hour of the day. When she prayed, she used to lie flat on the ground and press her face
against it and water it with her tears. And you, O God of mothers, did not despise her
       On e day she went to the bishop and b egged him with tears to com e and speak to
me. Bu t he said, "N o, not yet. H e is still too proud of his new learning to listen." But still
she begged him, with floods of tears, to speak to me. Then he said, "Go home, woman.
As sure as you are alive, it is impossible that the son of such tears should be lost" Sh e told
me afterwards that she believed these wo rds as if they had sounded from heaven itself.

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Death of My Friend
      I had one dear friend whom I loved with all my soul, as he too loved me. We had grown up together. We thought the same
thoughts and had but one heart. I could not live without him. He had been preparing for baptism, but I, by my mockery, turned
him away from you, my God.
       Soon after he fell sick of a great fever. He was unconsc ious, and the priest came and baptized him. W hen he got better I
came and mocked his baptism. I said, "They poured water on your body while you were unconscious. Of course you can forget
about tha t now ." I wa s sure that he w ould join m e in the m ockery. But n o. He sat u p in bed and looked at me as if I were his deadly
enemy. He crie d ou t, "Never speak like that again, Au gustine, if you w ant to rem ain m y friend."
      I was shocked and hurt. I left him, intending to return to the attack when he got well. But you, O God of mercy, snatched
him out of the danger. Two days later he died. And I was not there.
       I went mad with sorrow. I raged and wept. I could not rest or think. Why should other men live when he was dead? My eyes
looked for him ev eryw here, an d fou nd him no t. My native tow n smelled of death. I could n o longer stay there. I went back to
       And yet, O God of love, I knew that you took him from me then, so that you might keep him for me for ever in heaven.

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University Professor
         My pupils of my home town followed me to Carthage,
for they loved me. I began to teach in the university. I wrote and
published two or three books on the Beautiful and True. But
still I did not know you, my God, who yourself are Beauty and
        Then I entered for the prize of the best pu blic speaker in
that place . A sorcerer offered to ma ke sacrifice for m e, so that I
would win the prize, but I drove him away. But why? Why not
let him sacrifice an animal to the devils for me, when all the time
I was offering myself as a sacrifice to devils? I won the prize,
and was crowned by the governor to the applause of th e whole

                                                                            Augustine teaching in Rome- Gozzoli (1465)

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                                                  Famous and Unhappy

        Indeed I was now a person of importance. I had fame and money
and friends. Great men became my pupils. And still I was not happy, O God
of my life, for I had not you. I was restless, restless. How true it is that you
have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
        At last, by my own study, I found that what the Manicheans had
taught me was all nonsense. I began to long for you , O L ight of m y heart,
but I did not know where to find you. I never thought of turning back to the
faith of my childhood, for these people had taught me to hate and d espise
the Catholic Church. They were better able to tell lies about it than to prove
their own doctrines. I had been deceived by lies. The Catholics did not
believe all the foolish things I thought they believed.
        But my good mother was with me. She had followed me to Carthage
and lived near me. Day and night she prayed and wept for me, offering you
the very blood of h er heart for m y sake . Once she had wan ted m e to
become a big man in the world. Now she was praying that I might become a
small man in the world, if only I could be a big man in the kingdom of God.
        At Carthage the rioting students grew w orse than ever. Th ere were
endless strikes and demonstrations. They made it impossible to teach. In the
end I grew sick of them. Friend s told me that in Rome the students were
better behaved, so I decided to go there.
        But when my mother heard this she was in dreadful sorrow. She
clung to me. She would not let me go. She followed me down to the edge of
the sea, where my ship was waiting. I said, "Mother, I am only going to say
                                                                                   Augustine lands at Ostia Gozzoli (1465)
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goodbye to a friend who is sailing tonight. Look, here is a church. Rest and
pray here tonight, and I will co me to you in the m orning."
         And so I lied to my mother, O my God, and to such a mother! I took
the girl I was living with, and stole aw ay in the darkness. I sailed away to
Rome. When morning came my mother saw how I had deceived her. She
went mad with sorrow. She blamed you, O G od of mercy, for not hearing
her prayers. She did not understand that you were only preparing a greater
joy for her by my going away.
        In Rom e I fell sick of fever an d ne arly d ied. I w as on the edge of he ll,
going down with all my sins. For where else could I have gone if I had died
then? But my mother's prayers far away in Africa saved me from the death of
bod y and soul.
       I found that the Roman students were indeed well behaved. They had
only one fault. They used to pay their fees only at the end of the year. And
when the tim e cam e to pay they all ran off and paid m e nothing. I was left a
poor man.

       Just then I heard that a position was available in the city of Milan for a
professor of rhetoric. So it was that I came to that city.

The story of Ambrose
       At Milan I met Ambrose the bishop, the most learned man of his time
and the greatest orator in Italy. He had first been a soldier, and then governor
of northern Italy, and while still governor he became a catechumen and was
preparing for baptism.
        Just then the bishop of Milan died, and the people gathered in the

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church to elect a new one. But a riot broke out between two
factions, and Am brose the gove rnor marched in to restore order.
He stood by the altar and made a speech, saying, "You should be
ashamed of yourselves, you Christians. Is this the example you
give to the pagans?"
      Suddenly, as if inspired by God, a child cried out, "Let
Ambrose be bishop!" At once the people took up the cry, "Let
Am brose be bishop!"
       Am brose cried o ut, "N o, never! I am only a catechum en. I
am a sinfu l man."
         But the peo ple followed him to his house and stayed there
all day. They kept on chanting: "We want Ambrose! We want
Ambrose!" When night came Ambrose mounted his horse and
rode away from the city in secret. All night he rode, thinking he
was leaving Milan far behind. But when dawn came he found he
had lost his w ay, com e aro und in a circle, an d was back again in
        He said to himself, "It is the will of God for me." So he
was ordained priest, and then bishop. This was the man I met, and          Augustine arrives at Milan and meets Ambrose
it was you, O God of mercy, who brought me to him after all my
wandering, so that he might bring me to you.

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My Eyes Begin To Open
        I began to go to Mass to hear Ambrose preach, not for what he said, but for the way he said it. For I had lost all hope of
finding the truth in your Church, O my Go d. But, little by little, as I listened to h ow beautifully he spok e, I began to fee l how truly
he spoke. I began to see that all the lies I had been told about the Catholic Church were not true.
      The one thing that frightened me was his purity - that, being a priest, he did not marry or touch women. This, O my God,
seemed to m e a terrible thing, beyond the power of m an. I did not then und erstand the pow er of your grac e, and that purity is a gift
from you.
        Like an angel from heaven my good mother had come to me. She crossed the stormy sea, and traveled hundreds of miles
over land, for love of me. When I told her that I had not yet found the truth, she said, "I trust in Jesus Christ to see you a faithful
Christian befo re I die."
       She came with me and listened to Ambrose as if he were an angel from God. And slowly I saw that what Ambrose taught
was the truth. My trouble was that I wanted to be able to understand every part of the truth myself, as clearly as I see that two and
two are four. As if a mere man can understand everything about you, my God, who are infinite and eternal Truth.
       Then you began to enlighten m y m ind. I saw that a man cannot discover all the truth about yo u by reason alone. It is
necessary that you reveal yourself to us. And you had done so in your Bible, and above all when you spoke to us through your
beloved Son, Jesus. At long last I believed all that the Church taught me.
      O m erciful God , I thank you. Wh en I was thinking out these things you were n ear me . When I cried out to you, you heard
me. When I knocked, you opened to me, my Light, my Love, and my Life.
       I now believed, but I was afraid to follow. I was afraid of baptism. Why? Because I knew that I must give up all my old sins
of impurity. The thought of them held me back. M ust I give up these? And for ever?
       With one half of my he art I longed to fly to you, O G od of love, and to live purely as Am brose lived. With the other half I
was afraid. For I thought that I could never live without the embrace of a woman. I thought that purity depended on my own
strength alone. I did not know that if I had prayed for it you would have given it to me.
        But I sent away the wom an I had lived with. I gave her a dowry, and she returned hom e to A frica, whe re she rem ained in
seclusion for the rest of her life.

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        This can hard ly be believed, O God of merc y. I believed, but I did not pray. I did not pray to you. And so I fell back worse
than ever. What held me so fiercely bound was the habit of lust that could never be satisfied. For a while I even thought of
follow ing the do ctrine of E picu rus, "Eat, drink and be me rry, for tom orrow w e die ."

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                                                        Come, Follow Me

The Story of Saint Anthony
       One day an official from the Emperor's court came to visit us. He was a Christian, and he happened to tell us the story of
Saint Anthony of Egypt. This was the story.
         Anthony's parents were very rich, and when he was a boy of eighteen they died and left him all their property. One Sunday
morning he came to M ass as the priest w as readin g these words of the gospel, Go and sell what you have, and give the money to the poor, and
come, follow me.
       Anthony felt that God had spoken these words directly to him. He went home and sold all his property and gave away the
money to the poor. Then he went off into the desert of Egypt to be alone with God. He lived there until he was over a hundred
years old, praying, fasting, and reading the word of God.
        Other men heard of him, and they too gave up everything for the love of God. They followed him to the desert and lived as
he did. Some of them lived alone, others in groups, but they all came together for Mass on Sundays. I was amazed to hear this - that
men could give up everything for love of God . I kept saying in my heart, "O my G od, why cannot I do the sam e? Why not now?"

Story of the Two Friends
        Then our visitor went on to tell us another story. He said: "I had two friends in the Emperor's court, very ambitious young
men. They were engaged to be married to two rich girls. One day we visited a certain city with the Emperor, and my friends went
for a walk in the forest outside the walls. In the forest they found a little house where three poor men of God lived and prayed
together. They had given up the world for Jesus' sake, to serve him and other poor people. In the house was a book - the life of
Saint Anthony I have just told you about. One of the friends began to read it, and as he read the love of God struck his heart like an
arrow . He said to his companion, 'O h, what fools we are! W e spend our lives trying to become the Em peror's friends, so as to
become influential and get riches and power. In doing so we may lose our souls. But, if we wish, we can become God's friends right
now , and gain the ric hes o f hea ven.'

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       "He read on, and then said, 'My friend, I have made up my mind. I have said goodbye to the power and glory of this world.
I am going to serve Go d alone. I w ill begin now , in this very place, with these poor men.'
      "His friend read the book, and the love of God set his heart on fire also. He gave up all things and stayed in that place.
When the tw o girls h eard the ir story , they too decid ed to give themselves and their lives to G od."

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                          My Last Struggle

The Storm Breaks
       That story pierced my heart like a sword. I saw myself as I was, wicked
and shameful. How could others give up everything for you, O God of love,
in one single moment? And here I was. For years I had been begging you,
"G ive m e purity - but no t yet!"
         My good friend Alypius was with me. I turned to him. There w as a
storm in my heart. "O h, wh at is wrong with us?" I cried. "See how simple
uneducated people run to God. But here we are, with all our learning, stuck
fast in sin. Why can't we follow them? Why don't we? O God what is wrong
with us?"
         I ran out into a garden behind our house. I fell on the ground. I beat
my forehead. I tore my hair. I wept aloud. I cried out, "O God, why not now?
Why not now? Why not turn to you now with all my heart? O God, O God,
let it be now ! I have only to w ill it. Let it be now."
        And I almost willed it, and yet I did not. Still I did not turn back, but
tried again; and I was almost there and touched it, and still I did not. For my
old habits, my sins, whispered to me, "Are you going to leave us? Are you
sending us away? Shall we never meet again? Can you never again do this or
that? Do you think you can live without these pleasures?"
       I felt as if they were whispering behind my back, pulling at my clothes

                                                                                    The Conversion Scene
                                                                [Page 20]
to m ake me turn arou nd. And I cried out, "H ow long, O Lord, how long? Will you be angry for ever? Rem ember not my past sins. How long, O
Lord? Tom orrow? W hy not today? Why not now, this very hou r?"

Take and Read
        Suddenly I heard a child's voice from some nearby garden. It was singing over and over, "Take up and read. Take up and
read." I tried to remember if there was any game in which children used these words. But no, I could think of none. Then I thought
that perhaps it was a command from you, my loving God, to open the Bible and read the first words I should see.
         I opened it, and the first words th at m et m y eyes were these, from Pau l's letter to the Romans, chapter 13, verse 12: Don't
spend your time in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and lust, or fighting or jealousy. But ask the L ord Jesus Christ to help you live as you
should, and don't ma ke plans to enjoy evil.

                                                                         [Page 21]
                                                    End of Doubt and Fear

        I read no more. There was no need. A flood of joy filled my heart. My
doubts and fears ended. I went to my friend Alypius and told him all. He asked
to see what I had read; he rea d it, and the n read o n. The man who is weak in faith,
take him into your com pany. He ap plied these word s to himself and said, "W here
you go, I go . I too w ill surre nder to Go d."
        We ran and told my mother. And, O my God, how she laughed and wept
for joy! You had answered all her prayers, and given her more than she had ever
aske d for or im agined. For I no longer thought of m arriage, m oney, or power. I
wanted you and you alone, O God of my soul, God of my love, God of my life.

I Prepare for Baptism
        I was now thirty years old. I gave up teaching an d prepare d for baptism
with my friends. Those days of delight were not long enough for me, O God of
my heart. I spent them in reading and thinking about you. I loved to sing your
psalms in church with my friends. I was on fire with love. My old temptations
were gone, for you you rself came instead of them, m y Helper and m y Red eem er,
Jesus C hrist.
        Bishop Ambrose himself taught us the mysteries of the Catholic faith.
And I, who had once turned from you, was now thirsting for the truth. I was
like a child at its m other's breasts w ho strikes and presses them to get th e m ilk it
      On the night of the Easter vigil of the year 387, A mbro se baptized us.
We put on our white robes and entered the church with lighted candles in our
                                                                                           Baptism of Saint Augustine - 387 A.D. Gozzoli (1465)
                                                                  [Page 22]
hands. We offered the sacrifice of the Mass for the first time. Before we received the body of Christ, Bishop Ambrose spoke the
sermon, in which he said, "The Israelites ate manna in the desert, and they died. But the communion that you receive is the living
bread from heaven. Whoever eats it will live for ever, for it is the living body of Christ. This sacrament that you receive is made by
the w ords of C hrist himself. The L ord Jesus says, This is m y body. Before those words it is only bread; after these words it is his living
body. Th e Lord Jesus says, This is my blood. Before these words it is only w ine; after these w ords it is truly his blood."
       And so, in one hour, I, Augustine, was made new in baptism. I received the Holy Spirit in confirmation, and the living body
and blood of my Redeem er in communion. For eight days after this we came to Mass every day in our white robes, and received
com munio n. Wh at shall 1 give you back , O Lord, for all you have given to me?

My Mother Dies
        After this we d ecide d to come back hom e to Africa, so we traveled to
the seaport of Ostia near Rome. While we were waiting there for a ship, my
mother said, "My son, why should I stay in this world any longer? The one thing
I wanted was to see you a living Catholic before I died. God has granted me
that, and m ore than I ever asked fo r. I am ready to go to him now."
        A few days later she fell sick. As I sat by her bed she sudd enly said to
me, "My son, it is here in Italy you will bury me." I said, "Mother, would you
not rather be buried at home in Africa?" She answered, "It does not matter. Lay
this body of mine anywhere. The one thing I ask you is that you remember me
at M ass, wherever you m ay be."
        And so Monica, my mother, the best of all mothers, bowed her head and
died. She had given me life twice over: once in her womb, and again when I was
dead in sin. I closed her ey es, and you alone, O G od, you alone know w hat tears
I shed.

                                                                                                          The death of Monica

                                                                 [Page 23]
Late Have I Loved You
       Now that I am an old man and have made these my confessions, what shall I say to you, my living and true God?
        Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved you. For behold, you were within me, and I
outside; and I searched for you outside, and tried to fill my heart with those lovely creatures that you had made. They kept me from
you , and yet, w ithou t you r power, they would not have lived at all.
      You d id call and cry out to me to break open m y deafne ss. You shone your light in my heart to drive aw ay my blindness.
You breathed your perfume on me and I drew in my breath, and now pant for you. You touched me, and I burn for your peace.
       You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

                                                            [Page 24]
                                                   The End of the Story

        This is the end of the story of Saint Augustine as written by him.
When his mother died, he returned to Africa with his friends. Because they
were in love with God, they decided not to marry, but to live together as
brothers, serving God and the people of God. In the Acts of the Apostles
they, read that the first Christians lived with one heart, and shared
everything with one another. They even sold their property and divided
the money with those in need.
       Augustine said, "This is the life for us. It is the desire for money
that brings men to hell. When we own nothing, we shall be free to serve
God and our neighbor. So, let us sell what we have, and give what we do
not need to the poor, and share the rest. We shall hold it in common.
None of us will call anything his own."
       They did so. They resolved to be, poor, chaste, and obedient.
Augustine wrote a Rule of Life for them to live by. They spent their days
praying, working, studying the word of God, and serving the people. That
was the beginning of the Order of Saint Augustine, which spread all over
the world.
                                                                              Above: Augustine visits the hermits of Tuscany; left: Augustine
                                                                              meets the child Jesus on the shore; right: Augustine gives his
                                                                                          Rule to his followers. Gozzoli (1465)

                                                              [Page 25]
The Great Writer
        The people demanded that Augustine become a priest. Then he became Bishop of Hippo, in present day Algeria. At that
time, Christians in many countries were making mistakes in doctrine. Other bishops used to write to Augustine, asking him to make
the truth p lain, for he was the m ost learned of them all.
        And so it came about that he wrote over 300 books. These works are still studied all over the Christian world. He kept two
shorthand writers beside him to take down his words. His books grew as quickly as his thoughts. And the light of the Spirit shone
on his thoughts. He was among the most brilliant men who ever lived.

                                                            [Page 26]
Death of Augustine
        When Augustine was an old man, a savage tribe from Spain invaded North Africa. They were called Vandals. They marched
east along the coast, killing Christians and burning towns and cities. They surrounded Hippo, where Augustine lay dying. Augustine
prayed to God for two things: to save the city and to take him out of this world. God heard this prayer: the city was saved, and
Augustine began to die.
         He asked his brothers to write down Psalm 51 in big letters, and to hang it on the wall beside his bed. This is the song of
sorrow that K ing D avid made for his sins. It begins: Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness. In your mercy, wipe away my faults. Wash me
clean from my guilt, purify me from my sins.
       And with these words on his lips, the great Augustine died. It was the year 430 A.D. He was seventy-six years of age.

                                                                                            Death of Augustine
                                                                                            Gozzoli (1465)

                                                                 [Page 27]

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