St Augustine Confessions Essay, Research Paper
What makes is the difference between a regular Catholic and saints? Are all Saints supreme beings of righteousness? Saints are usually looked at as God s holiest servants, people who have centered their lives around God and the teaching of the Church. Saints are seen as if they are without sin. If these things are true then how does one explain the sainthood of Aurelius Augustinus, or Saint Augustine? Augustine in no way fits the traditional mold of saint. Quite the contrary, his life was full of sin. People can find it very easy to sympathize with Augustine s story because of his humanity. He does not place himself above anyone. He shows his life, as it was, a very confused and sinful life. But through his conversion he sets himself apart from the rest. Augustine was effected by many outside factors that lead to his change in point of view. The outside forces drove Augustine to look inward and see what exactly he was made of. The result was a total change in point of view bringing him closer to God. Friendship played a crucial role throughout all of Augustine s life. He loved having friends, and he loved being people s friend. Augustine was always concerned that his friendships were equal in nature. There was always a perfect balance between give and take. His friendships and other love relationships were vital in his conversion and his final evolution.
Childhood is normally filled with immature flights of fancy that are sinful in the hearts of the children, but when together they cannot resist the temptation. Augustine led a very similar type of childhood. When he was together with his friends he did many things that he knew were wrong. All of them were conscious of the wrong but felt that there was safety in numbers. In his confession he speaks of the incident with the pear tree, Augustine and his friends come across a pear tree and decide to steal from it. All of them know that what they are doing is stealing; yet the exhilaration is too much for them to handle. I stole something that I had in plenty and of much better My desire was not to enjoy what I sought by stealing but merely the excitement of thieving and the doing of what was wrong. (Pg. 29). The excitement is what drove them not the actual deed. Aristotle spoke of similar happenings in his Ethics . Aristotle says that these are the types of relationships that teenagers identify with. This is still very true on a modern college campus. Young students in a group are more likely to experiment with drugs and other evils. Although they have been taught their whole lives, the negative effects of drugs they still will try them when subjected to vast amount of peer pressure, for the sole purpose of fitting in.
Augustine tried a number of different religions in his attempt to find God. One such group that he joined for a period of time was the Manichee. He formed a strong bond to one of the members of the Manichee. This friendship teaches Augustine a lot. He becomes very close to his friend almost to the point of infatuation. He begins to see his friends as an idol. After his friend s death Augustine expresses much grief. His heart is broken by the loss of his friend. Augustine realizes though that a friendship should not go to the level that it had. There should always be a balance in how both parties feel for each other. A friendship must never be one sided in which one friend puts out all the effort and the other does nothing.
Augustine told of his trek through faith during all of his books. Each successive came a new height of devotion. His life experiences gave him a new outlook on what role God played in his life. Whether positive or negative his theories of faith were reinforced. Augustine tried the religious life of the Manichee. When he first came into their religious circle he accepted many of their beliefs for his own. He made a common error of letting outside influences persuade him to thinking otherwise. After a short time, Augustine realizes that the Manichee s beliefs do not fit his own. He leaves the Manichee and returns home to the companionship of the friends he had left behind in his absence.
One of the major responsibilities of a friend is to be constantly watching out for the well being of each other. Augustine was always vigilant in his friendship. He would always make sure that his friends were on the right path and not straying far from God. Two very close friends of his Alypius and Nebridius were cruising on a downward spiral. They loved gladiatorial games and events of this nature. I had discovered his fatal passion for the circus, and was gravely concerned because he seemed to me about to throw away or even already had thrown away a career of high promise. (Pg. 99) Augustine knew that nothing good could come from their hobbies. He went to his friends and explained to them what they were doing, and how their very actions were endangering not only there well being but there jobs as well. They listened intently to Augustine and knew that of course he was right. They were grateful for his honesty. True friends know that the intentions of their friends are never spiteful or duplicitous. A true friend has a deep love for the other and would do anything to see the other happy.
Alypius also plays a very large role in Augustine s life. Augustine and him had a very close relationship. He was mush attached to me because I seemed to him good and cultured, and I was attached to him because of the solid virtue of his character. (Pg. 98) In Book VIII Augustine decides that he will lead the rest of his life as a celibate man. He knows that his true love for God necessitates him to lead a continent life. As he sits in the garden pondering this, he suddenly drops to his knees and begins weeping in the garden. The tumult of my heart took me into the garden where no one could interfere with the burning struggle with myself in which I was engaged, (pg. 146). This passage shows Augustine s inner fire for truth. He does not want to be fed his faith any more and he is at the brink of conversion. As he weeps he the gates of enlightenment open to him and he finally sees the lord. These tears of joy mark Augustine s final stop in his evolution. He has come so far in his life and now he finally realizes what had escaped him for so long. The continent path had been in front of him all along, but it was up to him to awaken for his spiritual slumber and realize it. All of these things inundate his mind at once and he falls to overpowered by emotion to remain standing. After regaining himself he runs to Alypius to tell him of his enlightenment. Alypius listens to Augustine s entire ordeal and is very overpowered by what he says. Alypius agrees completely with Augustine and decides that he to will lead a life of celibacy. Alypius makes the greatest jump in his life. His friend Augustine has now redirected his life for the second time. Alypius shows his true love for God, through his eternal friendship with Augustine.
Augustine s choice was not easy for him. It came after a long time of thinking and soul searching. In the end, however he realizes what he thinks he should do. Augustine had always believed in God. Yet there is now a love and a passion behind this belief. His love was no longer blind. In fact now it was guided by his new found feeling of self worth. He finds himself through all of this. His quest to know himself has come to a conclusion. Through his own perseverance he knows how he can show his affection for God. His chooses to forgo the pleasure of sexual relationships and become celibate. Augustine feels that through his celibacy he will show God his efforts to lead a continent life. His love for God has grown and prospered much from his days of youth. The pear tree and the hooting calls of his friends no longer tempt him. Augustine has intellectually matured from those days. He can now realize fully what his admiration for his Manicheen friend meant to him.
After the bridge to Christianity had been crossed, Augustine forms two more very important relationships. These two friends are the embodiment of Christian values. Ambrose and Simplicianus are the exact models of perfect Christians. Simplicianus was the father of Ambrose a Bishop at the time. Simplicianus always tried to direct the wandering Augustine in the ways of Christ. Then, to exhort me to the humility of Christ hidden from the wise and revealed to babes (Pg. 135). They value and instill in Augustine charity and God s wisdom. They are blessed with the intellect for God that Augustine had been searching for all his life.
Religion does not involve love it is based on love. Love serves as the structure that religion builds on. Religion in this context can better be summed up as spirituality. People do not have to affiliate themselves with a specific known religion to believe in a God. A farmer who has worked his entire life on the plains of Africa without knowledge of Christianity or any other religions can still be a religious person. A faith in God does not have to be engrained or educated into someone. A love for God must be sought for not taught. One cannot read passages from people who knew a crucified prophet in Israel and then believe that they truly love God. Augustine knew of this process he spent time with different religious groups and each time he realized that their beliefs were not his own. The Mannichee were not wrong for the way they believed in God, but the Mannicheen beliefs did not suit Augustine.
The bible is looked as the Book of the Lord. It is the basis of the Catholic Church without it Catholicism would consist of elaborate buildings and men with white collars. Or would it? Is religion based exclusively on its components? Augustine did not even enjoy the bible as much as he had the writing of Cicero. He did not discount it in any way, but still he found the writings of a modern scholar more inspiring on the topics of God then those of the Apostles who had know Christ and witnessed his miracles firsthand. Augustine said that Cicero s Hortensius awoken him from a state of spiritual slumber. Augustine still felt that God was the Almighty, and that God controlled everything in the universe. Then, why does the Catholic Church that holds the Bible as its source of faith think of Augustine as a saint? The answer lies in his love for God and his pursuit for truth. His soul was not quieted by simply being told what to think of God. His faith came from his own experiences not on a bound collection of writings from a number of BC inhabitants.
Supports in life are needed at every opening door. Friends are people that can always be trusted to be leaned on in times of need. Augustine confesses much about his friendships, here he speaks how any connection between two people should be heavily rooted in God. This is a matter of the degree of faith one has, but nonetheless it shows how Augustine has complete and utter faith in God. He believes that everything he does is not done without god. Through his love through God he can now share his love with others whom he cares for. He speaks of how he did things against God when his friends encouraged him. Although knowing full well that it went against what he believed he succumbed. Should Augustine be condemned to hell for eternity? No, he did go against God commandments, but wrongdoing is in human nature. Forgiveness is the issue at hand. If God the Supreme Being who has created the world can forgive his beloved, then forgiveness of sins between two people should be insignificant.
Friendship is a major part of everyone s life. Through friendships come many realizations about human nature. Augustine loved friendship. He loved caring for others and he loved being cared for. He was always there when a friend needed him and was always careful to make sure that his friends were following the right path. Augustine was not a faultless person. It is for this reason that his confessions are so applicable. Not everyone can sympathize with the life of Saint Mary who lived her life devoid of sin. Yet everyone can relate to Augustine and his life of sin and displeasure. In many ways he represents how a modern saint would be defined today. A saint is not without sin; instead they are aware of sin and are forever learning from their mistakes. Augustine teaches respect for one s peers and how to be a good friend. Augustine was a perfect friend to all that he came to know. Friendship is not devoid of love; it is higher than love. Through friendship others can take Augustine s example and evolve in people worthy of sainthood.