Saint Augustine"Saint Augustine is recognized as the greatest father of the early Church following the death of the original Apostles."
Saint Augustine is recognized as the greatest father of the early Church following the death of the original Apostles. His writings significantly influenced the doctrinal teachings of Christianity. Jerome, who translated the Bible from the original languages into Latin (Vulgate), said Augustine “established anew the ancient Faith.”
Augustine was born on November 13, 354 A.D. in Roman Africa (modern day Algeria) to his Christian mother, Monica, and a pagan father, Patricius. He was a brilliant student with a fervent intellectual curiosity. However, soon after his 18th birthday, he fathered a son, Adeodatus (meaning “Gift from God”), who sadly died at 16 years old. Later, it was the influence of both his mother’s teaching and St. Ambrose’s preaching that began his lifelong commitment to Christianity.
He dates his conversion to a story he once heard of two men who had suddenly been converted by reading the life of St. Antony. One felt deeply ashamed of himself and shouted to his friend, “What are we doing? Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!”
Full of repentance for his sinful life, Augustine cried out to God, “How long more, O Lord? Why does not this hour put an end to my sins?” Augustine then opened Paul’s letter to the Church in Colosse and read the first passage he saw: Colossians 3:5-17. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature … And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:5,17, NIV). This was the life-changing message that Augustine needed. The Apostle Paul instructed him to put away all impurity and to live a life imitating Jesus.
Augustine became a priest, a bishop, a legendary author and by all measurements one of the greatest fathers of the early Church. In his room, he painted: “Here we do not speak evil of anyone.” For the remainder of his earthly life, St. Augustine successfully argued against dangerous heresies plaguing the church, lived a life of poverty, supported the poor, preached and prayed daily.
Augustine’s impact on the Middle Ages and the Church today cannot be overstated. More than five million words of St. Augustine’s writings exist today! Of these, two have had particularly lasting influence: “The City of God” and “Confessions.” At age 76, Augustine died on August 28, 430 A.D.
Giving your heart to God means setting aside your old life. It is not just a “new idea” that God is interested in, it is a “new life!” Commitment is just the first step in a long journey. Have you past the “new idea” phase in your Christian walk? Are you allowing Christ to take complete control?