Saint Augustine Essay

1610 words - 6 pages

Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), also known as Augustine of Hippo created an image of himself through his writings and teachings. He was born in Tagaste, a town in North Africa, on November 13, 354 AD. He was born into a middle class family. Patricius, his father, was a pagan, but later converted to Christianity because of his wife, Monica, was a devout Christian. Augustine’s mother, who was devoted to the Roman Catholic church, constantly tried for her son's conversion.

Augustine was educated as a lecturer in the former North African cities of Tagaste, Madaura, and Carthage. The philosophical works of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman speaker and politician, inspired Augustine to become a seeker after truth. Augustine engaged restlessly in philosophical studies, and passed from one phase of thought to another, unable to find satisfaction. From 373 until 382, in Carthage, he conformed to Manichaeism, a dualistic philosophy dealing with the conflict between good and evil. This seemed to be the answer to the confusion in his own heart. It solved the mysteries that confused him in his own experience. After realizing that this philosophy wouldn’t make a great ethical system, he abandoned this philosophy. After being educated throughout North Africa, he left Carthage and in 384 found himself in Milan where he would pursue his career of a professor in rhetoric. Also, in Milan he met and was influenced by the bishop, Ambrose. With this, Augustine was attracted again to Christianity and was baptized by Ambrose in 387. Augustine was also influenced by Platonism. He than returned to North Africa where he became the bishop of Hippo in 391, a title he held until he died.

This great “Father of the Church,” wrote a handbook on the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and love. The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love was written in the year 420. It is a brief handbook on the proper mode of serving God, through faith, hope, and love. It is easy to say what one ought to believe, what to hope for, and what to love. But to defend our doctrines against the slander of those who think differently is a more difficult and detailed task. If one is to have this wisdom, it is not enough just to put an enchiridion in the hand. It is also necessary that a great eagerness be in the heart.
Saint Augustine says that God created all things good. In Chapter XI, Augustine says, “what is called evil in the universe is but the absence of good” (Augustine 177). He uses an example of disease and wounds, which are evil, are nothing but the absence of health, which is good. “For when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist” (Augustine 177). In sum, when evil is controlled it will no longer exist in the good or anywhere else. Augustine relates this to the vices in our soul and how they are nothing but deprivations of natural good. Just like the disease...

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