The Confessions of St. Augustine

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St Augustine’s "Confessions" is considered a profound and critical analysis of the Bible. The beginning of St. Augustine's Confessions discuss the various events that led him to God. The saint opens his first book by praising God with "great art thou, O Lord” (Augustine). Augustine's point here is to first note to the reader that he now understands the holiness of God and has already made the conversion. The first book allows Augustine to reveal the mercies of God in both infancy and boyhood. Augustine's reflections on good and evil note that he felt sinful when he says "what then was my sin? was it that I hung upon the breast and cried? for should I now so do for food suitable to my age, justify should I be laughed at an reproved. For those habits, when grown, we root out and cast away” (Augustine). Thus, St. Augustine is evoking acknowledging that sin begins in the womb given the fall of man and thus, infancy begins the sin and the sooner man seeks to attain God's grace the better. Augustine understands that God's mercy was with him from the beginning, despite him not giving his life to God initially. This is evident by "O Lord my God, who gavest life to this my infancy” (Augustine).

The first event that Augustine encountered that puts an unction in him to begin moving toward God was when he began school and the school was not godly or saintly which can be noted as a "cloak or error" (Augustine). It is the philosophy of his school to teach individuals to pursue materialism rather than God. Augustine’s reflection here is that this period in his life was more or less stricken with disorder and confusion. The next event that moved Augustine closer to God was the "madness of lust that he encountered in adolescence. It is here where Augustine tries to get the reader to understand the scripture in the Bible that discusses the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. It is a subtle path that Augustine weaves, but nevertheless is one that is definitively expressed especially when he says "I, poor wretch, foamed like a troubled sea, following the rushing of my own tide, forsaking thee [o, Lord] and exceeded all Thy limits; yet I escaped not Thy scourages. For what mortal can?" (Augustine).

In the third book, Augustine reflects on his advancement in studies and discovery of wisdom. He at this point has a distaste for the Word of God, and was also led astray to the Manichaeans. Moreover, his mother, Monnica, cannot belief that her son has denied the creator and is grief stricken at the heretical life he wants to lead. Augustine understands that he "fell among men proudly doting, exceeding carnal and prating," and that although he was led astray and delighting in his sin nature, he "hungered and thirsted" (Augustine).

By the fifth book, which is the beginning of St. Augustine's 29th year, his evolution begins as he moves toward accepting God and leaving the heretical teachings of the Manichees behind. This is definite when he states that "their books are fraught with prolix fables, of the heaven, and stars, sun, and moon" (Augustine). In essence, Augustine has discovered the falsehoods of what he so long embraced. The event in this book that effectively causes Augustine to leave the Manichean thought is when he hears St. Ambrose. Augustine understands that it was God's doing that he was led to Ambrose when he states that "to him was I unknowingly led by Thee, that by him I might knowingly be led to Thee" (Augustine). Essentially, Augustine was led by God to hear Ambrose and then in turn converted. The subsequent books of St. Augustine’s “Confessions” deal with Augustine’s continuing awareness of God and conversion to Catholicism and the varying events that took place as a result of that conversion.

Work Cited

Puchner, Martin, et al., Eds. The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volume 1. Shorter Third Edition. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. Print.