Augustine of Hippo
Monday is the Memorial of St. Augustine. Sadly, I've disliked him from the time before I was even a Christian.
In college, I read Augustine's Confessions, and my philosophy professor saw Augustine as a social-climber who had abandoned the mother of his child to become a clerical big-wig. When I later learned Augustine was the father of Predestination and also the Just War Theory, well, he dipped even lower in my estimation.
But this is his Memorial, and I think I perhaps have misjudged him, so I'll offer him a poem from Theology Today - Letter to St. Augustine, by Gene Fendt, who teaches philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Kearney ....
I have no questions for you,
only for me, but since they raised themselves
while listening to your sermons, or reading
your Confessions, De Trinitate, Enchiridion,
I write to you; you needn't answer, I know
your days are busy, ground to dust, to darkness
with the thousand things a bishop has to do
before he can retire for a moment-
to pray, to write, to think about a book.
But I wonder, if love's our weight,
are there people who are weightless? I don't ask
to judge my brother, but there are times I wonder
of myself, I seem so purely pulled
to nothing. Now, for instance: I ask,
but don't await an answer; do not, in fact,
expect it, but dream of wide free spaces, floating
like the gull on wide-winged air-
You say that God could not allow
any kind of evil in his works
unless he were so powerful, so good,
as to be able to turn all evil,
finally, to good, and so reveal
the weight of sin is grace, its gravity
a sign: res et sacramentum gloriae.
I cannot doubt this, only wonder.
I wonder, too, if when our souls are finally turned
to face that ever warming fire, if from our ashes
there might rise some new and unimagined way
of loving, some way we know not of, nor guess,
until whatever we are now has reached
the other side of fire, and life, and mercy's justice,
embodied and immortal, lives as it will.
Such are my meditations, such my prayer,
and so this letter, from many thousand miles,
near as many months, to you from your brother,
deep in the bowels of the good God's body-
- Death of St Monica (Augustine's mother) - 1464-65 Fresco
Apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano