In this series, I am going to post quotations from Augustine’s Confessions. Augustine recounts his life from an unbelieving rhetorician and philosopher to becoming Christian. This book is a must read in my opinion. He’s brutally honest with all of his struggles and deals with exactly the same struggles we do today–though this book was published by him in A.D. 397. It is interesting how the struggles of men 1600 years ago are still the same; the grieving struggle of losing your best friend and parents, the troubles of being a student, and then the struggle of being a teacher to troublesome students. Most importantly, it is the struggle of one man and the Holy Spirit, and though Augustine had to pull his hair out in conflict, we can all give thanks along with him that the Spirit won the day.
With no further ado, here is the man himself through selected quotations.
Dealing with School:
“O my God! What miseries and mockeries did I then experience when it was impressed on me that obedience to my teachers was proper to my boyhood estate if I was to flourish in this world and distinguish myself in those tricks of speech which would gain honor for me among men, and deceitful riches! To this end I was sent to school to get learning, the value of which I knew not—wretch that I was. Yet if I was slow to learn, I was flogged…
For I did not, O Lord, lack memory of capacity, for, by your will, I possessed enough for my age. However, my mind was absorbed only in play, and those who were doing the same things themselves punished me for this. But the idling of our elders is called business; the idling of boys, though quite like it, is punished by those same elders, and no one pities either the boys or the men.”
Dealing with Death:
Friend: “This is what we love in our friends, and we love it so much that a man’s conscience accuses itself if he does not love one who loves him, or respond in love to love, seeking nothing from the other but the evidences of his love. This is the source of our moaning when one dies—the gloom of sorrow, the steeping of the heart in tears, all sweetness turned to bitterness—and the feeling of death in the living, because of the loss of life of the dying.”
Mother: “And so on the ninth day of her sickness, in the fifty-sixth year of her life and the thirty-third of mine, that religious and devout soul was set loose from the body.
I closed her eyes; and there flowed in a great sadness on my heart and it was passing into tears, when at the strong behest of my mind my eyes sucked back the fountain dry, and sorrow was in me like a convulsion.”
“For we did not consider it fitting to celebrate that death with tearful wails and groanings. This is the way those who die unhappy or are altogether dead are usually mourned. But she neither died unhappy nor did she altogether die.”
“What was it, then, that hurt me so grievously in my heart except the newly made wound, caused from having the sweet and dear habit of living together with her suddenly broken? “