As it seems, all converts have their own stories to tell.
In this case, it was a long ago medieval philosopher. Saint Augustine was known to have made to apply the works of Plato into the Christian faith. Subtle implications in his life work could be evidence enough for this generalized term. Although, engaging on a discussion about Saint Augustine’s philosophy would mean digressing from the topic at hand. Going back to what I was saying, every converts have had certain path towards the faith that they have now. I believe that every individual have this kind of stories in life whether or not they were entering a faith or backsliding from a faith. Inevitably, a well known man of the faith could have his own story. In a brief biographical sketch of Saint Augustine’s life, it could be gathered that Augustine was not the typical good boy of society.
He had numerous encounters of things that were naturally against the teachings of the church. It should be noted that at the ripe age of seventeen Augustine was already vivacious enough to take on a mistress and even had a child with her (Rzepka). Some would even claim that it was on his sixteenth year as a being in the world that he had took on a mistress. But these would be a mere trivia on him. His mother was a devoted Christian and his father was as pagan as they came but his father later converted to Christianity on his death bed. Augustine had two major influences.
He was influenced by the Manicheans and the Neo-Platonists. It was Bishop Ambrose who later gave him enlightened insight towards Christianity (Mendelson) . The brief sketch given here is just for the readers to see the main factors that led Augustine to convert. In a more elaborate fashion it would be seen then that Augustine had come across to a faith that he had held dear until his death. It was said that the main influence that Augustine had read are the passages from The Bible’s New Testament, although it would be assumed that at his era the passages from the Bible were not that translated for readers to be able to appreciate it. Reading St Augustine’s Confessions, one could see that it was on Book Five of the said book that a progression towards the Christian faith could be seen.
Although, the First Chapter of Book One had already given hints for his overwhelming faith towards God, which could be read as “Great art thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is thy power, and infinite is thy wisdom.” (Outler) . I believe that this passage from Book five could be a substantial evidence how he had viewed Bishop Ambrose, And to Milan I came, to Ambrose the bishop, famed through the whole world as one of the best of men, thy devoted servant. His eloquent discourse in those times abundantly provided thy people with the flour of thy wheat, the gladness of thy oil, and the sober intoxication of thy wine. To him I was led by thee without my knowledge, that by him I might be led to thee in full knowledge. That man of God received me as a father would, and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should.
(Outler)In this aspect it could be deduced that Augustine is surely intrigued with how the Bishop had delivered the teachings of Christianity. As I was saying before that the readings about God were not greatly appreciated by Augustine before. It was after this incident that Augustine was rethinking his position in life.
He still had doubts about God but he had decided to go back to the Christian faith, Catholic faith to be exact. It was later in Book Seven that a certain pattern for his own beliefs were made realized through the Platonic books that he had read. It would suffice to say that in this particular passage, the influence of Plato and the followers of Plato were great in his life, By having thus read the books of the Platonists, and having been taught by them to search for the incorporeal Truth, I saw how thy invisible things are understood through the things that are made. And, even when I was thrown back, I still sensed what it was that the dullness of my soul would not allow me to contemplate. I was assured that thou wast, and wast infinite, though not diffused in finite space or infinity; that thou truly art, who art ever the same, varying neither in part nor motion; and that all things are from thee, as is proved by this sure cause alone: that they exist. (Outler)Here a certain transition from the skeptic of Catholicism, Augustine had evolved in seeing God as the Divine Truth that a person is trying to find. As could be evidenced through the passages of the Bible that he had included in his Book One Chapter One and would be quoted in the Bible for the reader’s benefit, “ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
(Matthew 7:7)” (BibleGateway.com). It could be seen here then that Augustine was swayed to find the truth that was God. In his attempt to find his faith he was filled with a heavy burden since he was not still in terms of his worldly ways. But an attempt to go back to the faith in Catholicism had made his mother a very happy woman, as would read below: Then we went in to my mother, and told her what happened, to her great joy… For thou didst so convert me to thee that I sought neither a wife nor any other of this world’s hopes, but set my feet on that rule of faith which so many years before thou hadst showed her in her dream about me. And so thou didst turn her grief into gladness more plentiful… (Outler) As the book progresses, it could be read that Augustine’s struggle became new.
He is now fighting his own internal battle. He could control his appetite when he was awake but he could not do it when he was asleep. He had sought the help of God until he had finally resolved his problem. He also had help from the encouragement that was in the form of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
In his book he had greatly praised Christ as a mortal man who had greatly suffered through crucifixion. It was said in the Bible that Jesus Christ had given His own life in order to save the people of His Father. Augustine had read about thins and felt amazed at how Jesus Christ, a mortal, could be able to follow God in every step that Christ would take. In a passage in Augustine’s book, one would read the great reverence that Augustine had for Christ. Augustine believed that Christ was the bridge among man and God. Christ had shown the path towards salvation. In this passage, a confirmation on Augustine’s belief could be read, But the true Mediator, whom thou in thy secret mercy hast revealed to the humble, and hast sent to them so that through his example they also might learn the same humility — that “Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” appeared between mortal sinners and the immortal Just One… (Outler)In this aspect, it could be seen that Augustine was slowly embracing the Catholic faith. He was now praising how God had moved him to become a saved believer.
His belief in Jesus Christ had also greatly affecter his view on Catholicism. He believed that Jesus had died for our sins and being a mortal at that time, Augustine saw Christ to be an example for the mortals. In the Bible it was said that Christ had undergone certain temptations as a test of his will and faith in God. I believe that Augustine had such test. He did embrace the Catholic faith but he had a hard time following the faith especially when Augustine could not do away his own habits. The temptations were there but he had overcome it thinking that God would surely help him. This test of faith is something that is not uncommon to the believers.
I believe that these tests are not meant to harm our welfare as believer but for us to strengthen our hold on God. In the ways of the world, plenty of people would definitely have a hard time what others believe in. In Augustine’s Confessions, he did not care what others might think of him especially when he turned a Bishop in Hippo.
In fact, he was proud of the work that he had knowing that what was written in his book could be shared and that some people could be moved to engage in having a deeper relationship with God. In a way, the book had become his way of making a testimony that is for the cause of Christianity. Augustine had firmly believed that God had not given up on his cause and had successfully led him to the path towards his faith. He may have been a sinner but now he had tried to mend the error of his previous ways.Works Cited”BibleGateway.com.
” 2007. Gospel Communications International. 24 July 2007 ;http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=47;chapter=7;version=31;.Mendelson, Michael.
“The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” 2 October 2000. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 24 July 2007 ;http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/;.
Outler, Albert C. “Our Lady’s Warriors.” 1950. St. Augustine Confessions. 24 July 2007 ;http://www.
2006. SparkNote on Confessions. 24 July 2007 ;http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/confessionsaug;.;