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I never dreamed that one day I would finished reading a 300-page memoir written by a ancient Catholic saint. See, how many saints who lived during the first millennium have written himself a memoir?
I twice tried to read The Holy Bible (once in English and once in Tagalog) from cover to cover but failed. I just got distracted by too many details and hard-to-remember names and ancient places and I could not appreciate what were all those characters are doing. Excuses, excuses. They say that readin
really liked it
Chadwick’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions (note that this is a confession to God, while read by men) is one of the best. It is not costly in a monetary sense; new it is a mere 6.95. However, it is deceptively short. A chapter will take you two hours if you give it the attention it deserves. Augustine is a circular writer. He is not a bad writer – he was known to be a merciless editor, in fact. But he goes around and around, especially later on in the last chapters of the book when he is
If you can, and you do, you will find yourself perhaps having some of the same reactions I did:
a)I always wondered the same thing!, or
b)I am not even smart enough to have even thought to have wondered that
or possibly even
c)I have no idea what he’s even talking about anymore.
Had I not taken a course solely on The Confessions, when I had to read De Trinitate in a later theology class I most likely would have had a crisis of faith and quit. Because I was used to his style of writing and knew who the Manichees were, what the background was and the Neo-Platonic, socio-historical setting Augustine was situated in, I could confront De Trinitate and later, “for fun,” I was brazen enough to take on The City of God.
There was nothing Augustine didn’t talk about or no issue he didn’t confront as Bishop when he was alive, because he was a very prolific writer. He spent his time not in fancy robes as one may imagine, but answering questions of the people – he was an ad hoc theologian. We are still reaping the benefits of that today, for his answers were good ones and are still relevant. Before he became bishop, though, he lived the life he spells out on the pages of the Confessions, which are not tales of endless days skipping carelessly along smooth paths by any stretch of the imagination. He reveals facets of himself not very becoming of a bishop; facets that are human. He was the first to admit to having such personality traits and publish a book about it and turn it back into praise to God when it was previously just material for gossip.
Remaining human all the while, he points steadfastly to God, which is why this book is so crucial to know intimately. He speaks of heartbreak and loss in a way that you want to turn to it when you go through it (I did). He speaks of those who will naysay you when you have changed, speaking of who you were and not who you are, and you will again want to turn to his words. It is invaluable.