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St. Augustine was just like us, a man. He lived a life the same as me and you, had a family, had money, had a house, etc…St. Augustine accomplished much over his lifetime, after traveling the world, and becoming Bishop of Hippo, he has a lot of wisdom to share. When he wrote his book “Confessions,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word? Is it a good thing? Was it repentence? Well, all of these answers are correct, he wrote this book as a profession of his sins. He could have written it as a bibliography, stating facts about his accomplishments and made it his life story, but instead he crafted this memoir, about his wrong doings and how they took a toll on him. Although the audience is unclear, we think it was written for his kids, but it could also serve to help others like him, stuck on this spiritual journey.
Before he took on the role as Bishop, he was a normal man, who lived a normal life, and yes, he sinned just like everyone else. Augustine wasn’t your ordinary bishop; he didn’t devote his life to religion like others before him. In the book, he writes about being subdued by women, traveling the world, spending his money where he shouldn’t have, and much more. He tries to tel people that its ok to go through pain, and mishaps, he wants people to experience life to the fullest. By messing up, it’s the first step in accepting yourself, and moving towards a better tomorrow. For someone to accept their defeat and learn from it, they first need to experience everything. Don’t worry about what others think, he says people are good at judging, but bad at fixing themselves. According to Augustine, faith and reason are necessary for each other to work. Unlike Lutheranism, Augustine encourages questions. When reading, he says to never take anything literal, Catholicism should be analytical. Now, this was a big step for mankind, and at the time of “Confessions,” it was nearing the fall of the Roman Empire. Back then, to question the sacred texts was almost a call for death. You were labeled a heretic, like Socrates. When reading a text such as the Bible, he begins first by analyzing.
Next, he sets a foundation through his faith, and then uses reason to ask questions. To test ones’ faith, is to take their beliefs and see if it can withstand questioning. Catholicism should be interpretive; God gave reason and freewill as a gift. You should use faith to create the core beliefs, and then question how they fit into life and the natural world. After your questioning, reflect and see if your beliefs have changed. “Confessions,” brought faith and reason together. He says humans are naturally curious, and any questions should not be ignored. Having the power of freewill, means you control your own life. You have the ability to say “no.” Just like the grips of temptation, having relations with women, was one of his passions, and although he wanted to come clean and live a virtuous life, he just loved women so much.
Reason can take you out of turmoil, but faith can make you ascend. By accepting the consequences, it’s the first step in many to get to Heaven. Like St. Augustine, before taking on the position of bishop, he lived a normal life, one full of sin and love. He traveled the world, spent his money in some shameful places, and strayed from God’s path more than once. Augustine showed the readers what it means to forgive and accept your problems. He uses both faith and reason to better himself.
Augustine wrote “Confessions” as a guide to his son, and others who want to find salvation. He said the biggest thing to affect you, are the ones you surround yourself with, but even in a group you have freewill to choose your doings. There have been fights and articles written on these questions, but does reason make you sin? Can you sin and still be faithful? God gave humans the gift of freewill so we wouldn’t be puppets. Does this mean God set us up for disaster? No, reason can be used to make bad decisions, but even believers’ sin. You can commit a sin and still be faithful.
As he grew and became more experienced, some say he wrote “Confessions” for his son, so he won’t make the same mistakes that his father made. You can be 20 years old, or 80 years old, according to Augustine, it’s never too late to make a change. He stated right in the book that he left religion to go explore the world, but when he came back he started slowing down and catching up with his sins and God. First you reflect, next you accept, and then you repent.
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