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Augustine was born on November 13, 354 at Tagaste, on the northern coast of Africa, in what is now Algeria. He was raised as a Christian by his mother, Monica, despite his father, Patricius, being a pagan. His mother’s example of fervent faith was a strong influence on the young boy, one that would follow him throughout his life.

Although he had been enrolled amongst the catechumens in his youth and had received a Christian education in Tagaste, Augustine had nevertheless deferred the reception of Baptism, and was as yet unbaptized when the question of his advanced studies arose. Proud of his son’s academic prowess and prospects, Patricius was determined to send Augustine to Carthage, but had not the means available and thus it was that his eldest son spent his sixteenth year in an idleness that proved fatal to his virtue.

 

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Having thrown himself wholeheartedly into the pursuit of pleasure and gradually given up the practice of prayer, by the time Augustine reached Carthage late in the year 370, he was easily won over by the seductions of the half-pagan city.

When his father died in 371, soon after he arrived in Carthage, Augustine became the nominal head of the family and set up a household with a concubine, the mother of his son, Adeodatus, born about 372.

At the university Augustine studied literature and poetry, Latin, public speaking, and rhetoric. A terrible crisis of faith followed close upon his moral dissipation and Augustine fell into the snares of the Manichæans, a heretical sect that believed all flesh and matter to be evil, denied free will and attributed the commission of a crime to a foreign principle. Once he was won over by the sect, Augustine devoted himself to it with all the vehemence of his ardent nature and drew into it a number of friends by his proselytizing. Over time Augustine became disenchanted with the irresolvable contradictions he observed in the teachings of the Manichæans, but it took nine years for the illusion to die completely.

At the age of twenty-nine, Augustine set off secretly for Rome, resorting to subterfuge to avoid being followed by his mother, Monica. After a brief sojourn in Rome, he applied for a vacant professorship in Milan, where he was soon joined by his mother.

His meeting with St. Ambrose so impressed him that he became a regular attendant at the bishop’s sermons. Cicero’s work Hortensius was also instrumental in Augustine’s final conversion, inspiring him with the desire to seek the truth. His passions, however, were to enslave him for another three years. Finally, through the reading of the Holy Scriptures light penetrated his mind. Grace soon followed and the thirty-three-year-old Augustine resigned his professorship, put aside a prospective marriage arranged by his mother, and retired to a country estate to devote himself entirely to the pursuit of true philosophy, now inseparable in his mind from Christianity.

With his son, and the friends who had accompanied him into retirement, he was baptized on Easter Sunday in 387 by St. Ambrose. His ordination to the priesthood in 391 was followed by his consecration as Bishop of Hippo four years later. His priestly and episcopal ministries were both admirably fruitful: he fought heresy with lion-like tenacity, challenged heretics to public debates, attended Church councils, and was a prodigious writer and zealous preacher.

One of the greatest theologians of all time, among his extant works can be found more than 300 sermons, 500 letters, and numerous other writings on a wide variety of topics. Whilst refuting a Pelagian heretic, Augustine was stricken with a fatal illness.

For three months he suffered with unconquerable patience amid continuous prayer, and died on August 28 in the year 430.

 


 

 

 

 

DAILY QUOTE for June 25, 2017

Charity requires us always to have compassion on human infir...

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June 25

 

Charity requires us always
to have compassion
on human infirmity.

St. Catherine of Siena


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SAINT OF THE DAY

St. William of Vercelli

The monks began to complain that William’s rule was too st...

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St. William of Vercelli

William was born in 1085 at Vercelli in the Piedmont region of Italy of noble and wealthy parents. When he was still very young, he determined to renounce the world and become a hermit.

He built his first hermitage on Monte Solicoli, and then went to Monte Vergine. Many disciples came to him there, attracted by the sanctity of his life and the many miracles he performed. From among this first group of followers, a community soon formed. William became their Abbot and a church dedicate to Our Lady was built on the site. For this reason, the mountain became known as Monte Vergine or the Mount of the Virgin.

After a while, however, their ardor growing tepid, the monks began to complain that William’s rule was too strict and life too austere. He therefore decided to leave Monte Vergine. He traveled south and founded a new hermitage on Monte Laceno, then others at Basilicata, Conza, Guglietto, and Salerno. He also became an adviser to King Roger I of Naples. William died at Guglietto on June 25, 1142.

The first congregation of Monte Vergine dissolved. The monastery, however, remained and came into the hands of the religious of Our Lady of Monte Cassino, who wear the white habit of St. William in commemoration of the founder of the monastery.

The following extraordinary fact is recorded about the Monte Vergine monastery, where the monks still lead a life of penance and austerity. According to the rule, it is not permitted to eat meat, eggs, milk, or cheese. If someone tried to violate this regulation, storm clouds would appear in the sky and the lightning would destroy the illicit foodstuff that had been brought into the monastery. This happened on many occasions, and always with the same result. It is the way God chose to show that He desires the traditions of penance and austerity of the great St. William to be maintained.

WEEKLY STORY

A Young Man and His Lady Love

The young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. N...

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A Young Man and His Lady Love

In twelfth century England, a group of young men had gathered and were bragging of their various feats, as young men have done since the beginning of time.

The lively conversation went from archery to sword fighting to horsemanship, each trying to outdo the accomplishments of the others.

Finally, the young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.

Thomas of Canterbury meant the most holy Virgin as the object of his affection, but afterwards, he felt some remorse at having made this boast. He did not want to offend his beloved Lady in any way.

Seeing all from her throne in heaven, Mary appeared to him in his trouble, and with a gracious sweetness said to him: "Thomas, what do you fear? You had reason to say that you loved me, and that you are beloved by me. Assure your companions of this, and as a pledge of the love I bear you, show them this gift that I make you."

The gift was a small box, containing a chasuble, blood-red in color. Mary, for the love she bore him, had obtained for him the grace to be a priest and a martyr, which indeed happened, for he was first made priest and afterwards Bishop of Canterbury, in England.

Many years later, he would indeed be persecuted by the king, and Thomas fled to the Cistercian monastery at Pontignac, in France.

Far from kith and kin, but never far from his Lady Love, he was attempting to mend his hair-cloth shirt that he usually wore and had ripped. Not being able to do it well, his beloved queen appeared to him, and, with special kindness, took the haircloth from his hand, and repaired it as it should be done.

After this, at the age of 50, he returned to Canterbury and died a martyr, having been put to death on account of his zeal for the Church.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

The young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.

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