Friday, 28 August 2009

St Augustine

28th August is the day of St Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine was one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. In Roman Catholicism, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinian religious order. Born in Africa as the eldest son of Saint Monica, he was educated and baptized in Italy. His works—including The Confessions, which is often called the first Western autobiography—are still read around the world.

St Augustine framed the concepts of just war and original sin. Firstly, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power. Secondly, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state. Thirdly, love must be a central motive even in the midst of violence. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all human beings inherit. Born Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, he is the patron of the Augustinian religious order.

Why am I bothering to tell you all this? Because I think this quotation of his is one of the best I have come across recently:-

“Nobody can summon yesterday to return; today is being pressed by tomorrow to pass away. This is the very brief space of time in which we must live well, in order to go to that place from which there is no more passing away. And even as we are speaking, we are indeed passing away. Our words run onwards, the hours are flying by; so too our life, our deeds, our achievements, so too our suffering, and our very happiness. Everything passes away.


  1. *sigh* Yes, Scriptor, so true. St.Augustine says it well. "All things must pass"...this is our cross to bear and a defining fact of our existence. It is our very nature-mortal.

  2. Ironic this post when you consider the title of mine.
    Suspect he was one of the few not to have been to lindisfarne.

  3. I read his Confessions, I have the book in Swedish translation. I read it back in the 80's I think. I still remember my impression that his way of writing and his thoughts in some ways felt timeless and that it was really extraordinary to be able to read literature from so many centuries ago and still get that sense of communication. It's written in the form of prayer but if he'd lived in our age I can easily imagine him ramling on in blog... ;)

  4. The quotation epitomises my whole feeling about life at the moment. At first I thought it incredibly odd that I had written something similar last night in an email. Then when I re-read the quote it occurred to me that it is 'just' a brilliantly eloquent and poetic statement of the obvious.

  5. St. Augustine is on my header this week. I didn't know it was his B'day, though. I sure do enjoy your posts.

    Thanks, Gordon


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