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Saint Augustine's Confessions Essay

1149 words - 5 pages

"Accept my confessions, O Lord. They are a sacrifice offered by my tongue"¦" (91).When Saint Augustine wrote "Confessions", he had converted to the Catholic religion. In Catholicism, to confess means to ask God for the forgiveness of sins. In this book, Augustine is in fact confessing sins through many different forms of confession. The purpose of confessing these sins is to not only cleanse his soul, but to offer an example to others who have not always followed God's path.When reading "Confessions", it is important to note the circumstances in Augustine's life. He wrote the book in 397-8 A.D. This was two years after he was ordained an assistant bishop and one year after he became the head bishop. With that in mind, one must realize that Augustine was writing with a definitive Catholic bias. With the title of "Confessions" it is reasonable to assume that Augustine titled it to refer to his actual plea for the forgiveness of his sins, and to praise God. This can be assumed due to the fact that in those times within the Catholic religion, to confess meant asking for the forgiveness of sins and to praise God. One example of this Catholic influence is when Augustine refers to Original Sin, believed by Catholics to be a sin that everyone is born with due to the first sin committed by Adam and Eve. It is a sin they committed and one we all must suffer for. Augustine realizes this and asks God, "But if I was born in sin and guilt was already with me when my mother conceived me, where, I ask you, Lord, where or when was I, your servant, ever innocent?" (28).Looking at the forms of confession that Augustine used, one can see that he used his power of memory frequently. Since he did recount his tales of wrong doings back into childhood, his memory was possibly the most powerful form of confession. Another form of confession used was the act of prayer. While praying to God, Augustine is also praising God and his many miraculous ways.Through his memory, Augustine is able to recount his sins from the earliest childhood wrongdoings. "The power of memory is great, O Lord. It is awe-inspiring in its profound and incalculable complexity. Yet it is my mind: it is my self" (223-224). What is interesting, and possible noteworthy about Augustine's use of memory, is how he remembers only certain stories of childhood to touch upon. He tells of school days and how he only learned from punishment, but what is more significant is the story about stealing pears. Augustine could have told stories about anything, yet he chose to tell of his mischevious ways. This is one reason why readers would be led to believe that the book "Confessions" is indeed a book recounting his tales of sin and lifting them up to the Lord for forgiveness.Augustine wrote to chronicle his life through his sinful ways, and in a sense created an autobiography. However, this was not a traditional autobiography. It can be considered one due to the fact that it retells the factual stories of his...

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