It seems that whenever you ask a Catholic who their favorite saints are, they will inevitably get to St. Augustine. And for good reason. For St. Augustine is the exemplar, and the hope, of everybody’s spiritual weakness, and everybody’s spiritual obstacle overcome in both grace and struggle.
First, the struggle.
St. Augustine hungered for the truth untiringly. But, like so many of us in our youth, he looked in all the wrong places. Yet, not only dogged with the yearning for truth, young Augustine was dogged by natural desires. Young Augustine, buoyed unbeknownst by the prayers of his mother Monica, was a brilliant man, with a good heart, tossed along the turbulent sea of worldly thoughts and base desires.
Many of us are no different. In our youth, and in our not so youthful years, we have flirted with ideologies, philosophies, and popular trends that do not reflect the true nature of our being. Also, these false-prophetic contingencies are dangerous to our mental and physical health. On top of that, these ‘passing realities’ often draw us into thoughts and acts which are driven by our base carnality. Thus comes sexual promiscuity, pornography, drug use, alcohol abuse, trouble with the law, trouble with authority, drifting from the Church, and ideological beliefs, to include political, which are antithetical to sound Catholic doctrine.
But then there’s grace.
Young Augustine became St Augustine through his own struggle with himself, and with the overwhelming, but free and efficacious, grace of God. Augustine came to realize his base frailty, and his need for the Savior Jesus Christ. But prior to this spiritual conviction he had to come to an intellectual conclusion that the truth of Catholicism was the fullness of Truth that he had always sought. This realization, intellectually, and this conviction, spiritually, came with much personal struggle in prayer. But it did not come in isolation. Through his mother’s constant prayer, and the persuasive homilies of St. Ambrose, St. Augustine came to peace with God.
A peace that would shake the world for centuries.
Yet, this conviction, and realization, is available for us too! Jesus Christ died so that St. Augustine would be one of many signs, which saints are, of His Divine Mercy for all. If only we would take up the spiritual and intellectual challenge of meeting the Church face to face in the sacraments—especially confession and the Eucharist–and in the Church’s rich teaching treasury–especially in the saints, Doctors, Fathers, Councils, and Pope’s–we too can struggle to the peace which made Augustine a saint.
Let us pray that, today, many strugglers will peek into the life of St. Augustine and find hope in seemingly overwhelming odds.
P.S. Pray for my unemployment…and the same in many others.