St. Augustine of Hippo. Aim: to focus on the life of Augustine and primarily his most defining works, the Confessions and the City of God. St. Augustine: major themes . 1. Search for happiness is not easy… 2. Struggle as an adolescent to believe in God and live a virtuous life…
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St. Augustine of Hippo Aim: to focus on the life of Augustine and primarily his most defining works, the Confessions and the City of God
St. Augustine:major themes • 1. Search for happiness is not easy… • 2. Struggle as an adolescent to believe in God and live a virtuous life… • 3. Virtue as character strengths that develop over time… • 4. Sexuality and holiness = can we bridge the two?
Augustine’s early life • Born in North Africa • Father was a local Roman official, and his mother, Monica, was a Christian. • Very smart as a child = but at 16 had to leave school because of monetary issues. • What would you do if there was no school? No supervision?
Manichaeism: What is this?? • One god created good and one god created evil = struggle between good and evil… • But this dualism was dissatisfying for Augustine…he felt that understanding RELATIONSHIP could be an answer…
Enter: “Plato” • Augustine wanted to get at UNITY amid the CHAOS • For the Platonist: The world exists beyond what we see = humans have a spiritual component beyond their bodies… • Body is limited – but the goal is to STRIVE FOR UNITY! STRIVE FOR THE ONE = GOD! • How was Augustine in “chaos?” • How does the concept of relationship fit in here? • Maybe an answer was that God exists/is related to us within this spiritual component…
St. Augustine: A Man’s Search for Meaning… • Within the inner self, the spiritual realm of Augustine himself, he finds the truth (veritas) • God is present = he comes to realize that he can “rest” knowing that loving God can correct his confusion • Orientation toward UNITY = toward the ONE (for the Platonist) and this one is GOD!!! • Augustine’s Heart turns from lust toward God = fire/passion/desire for God, not bodily pleasures.
What event caused this change of heart? • Heard children saying, “Take and read, take and read…” • So he picked up the Bible and turned to a page at Random = opened to Paul’s Letter to the Romans (13:13-14: 14:1) • Answer to the confusion = “serving God” = elected as bishop of Hippo.
Augustine’s Need to Confess… • His failures/weaknesses made him aware of his need for God and more sensitive to others. • Scriptures gave him a guide, and the love of God gave him inspiration. • “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you...” • And the writing of the Confessions begins…focused on the inner self! • Is this quest for an inner conversion similar to the goal of the monastic?
“The Confessions” • Augustine drank, visited prostitutes, gambled…he needed to change! • And so he comes to realize that virtue is rooted in the love of God = thus rooted in relationship! • And so he writes his “confessions” in the style of a conversation/dialogue with God. (i.e. “O’ Lord…”)
Book II: “Adolescence” • Chapter I: concept of “recollection” = remembering the wickedness of his childhood. • What does it mean for Augustine to re-collect? • Memories may indicate unity = the events of his life meant something = purpose! • Realized that God had a plan for him…the memory of his past sins allows him to examine his life in light of his awareness of God as love. • God wasn’t separate from him!!
Book II: “Adolescence” • Chapter IV: concept of “desiring the sin itself…” • Not hungry nor thirsty… • But a “contempt for well doing…”