your Love as Big as the World
Augustine of Hippo (185-254 AD)
It is by running along the road of true love that we can reach our heavenly
Without love, everything we do is useless. We are wasting our energies
if we do not have love, which is God.
Human beings only become perfect when they are overflowing with love.
One can believe in the right way, but without love one cannot attain
Love is so strong that without it neither prophecy nor martyrdom avail.
Love is the sweet and saving food without which the rich are poor, thanks
to which the poor become rich.
Enlarge your love to the size of the world if you want to love Christ,
since the members of Christ are to be found all over the world.
Only those who have the perfection of Christ's love are able to live
together. Those who are without it continually upset one another and their
anxiety is a misery to the others.
[Quotes from the
writings of Augustine compiled by Defensor Grammaticus (after 600 AD) in
his Book of Sparkling Sayings, I, 5ff. (SC77 pp.58ff.). Also quoted
in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Cistercian
Publications. English translation by Paul Drake.]
Painting above, Christ
of St. John of the Cross, is by Salvador Dali, 1951. Its design is
based on a drawing by the 16th century Spanish friar Saint John of the
Augustine was born in 345 in the town of Tagaste, in Roman North Africa,
in what is today Algeria. His mother was Monica, a very devout Christian
who had a significant influence on her son’s life. His father, named Patricius,
was a pagan of significant status in society. Patricius became a Christian
shortly before his death.
Augustine was educated at
Carthage where he enjoyed academic success. He also enjoyed the party life,
and at the age of 17 fell in love with a woman whom he never named. They
lived together unmarried for 13 years and had a son whom Augustine named
Adeodatus, meaning “gift from God.” His son died in his youth.
At the age of 19, after reading
Cicero's Hortensiusat, Augustine fell in love with philosophy. He
later wrote, “It gave me different values and priorities. Suddenly every
vain hope became empty to me, and I longed for the immortality of wisdom
with an incredible ardour in my heart.” While he pursued Platonic philosophy
and the theology of the Manichaens, a Christian heretical sect, he became
restless for truth and virtue. Shortly before his 30th birthday, Augustine
encountered Ambrose, the saintly bishop of Milan. Augustine was moved by
Ambrose’s example and his inspired teaching and preaching of the gospel.
At the age of 32 Augustine found peace with God and was baptized by Ambrose
during the Easter liturgy in 387. Augustine returned to North Africa and
formed a monastic community with a group of friends. He was ordained a
priest in 391 and became a noted preacher. In 396 he reluctantly became
a bishop and remained the bishop of Hippo until his death in 430. He left
his monastic community, but continued to lead a monastic life with the
parish priests of Hippo in his episcopal residence. Augustine died on August
28, 430, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals.
Augustine was a prolific
writer and original thinker. His numerous writings, including theological
treatises, sermons, scripture commentaries, and philosophical dialogues,
number into the hundreds. His autobiography, the Confessions, was
considerded the first Western autobiography. It was highly read among his
contemporaries and has continued as a classic throughout the ages.
Augustine is one of the most
important figures in the development of Western Christianity. He is esteemed
as a great Latin church father and a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church.
Many Protestants consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation
teaching. Among Orthodox he is called St. Augustine the Blessed.