Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. We all know stories of ‘bad boy’ Augustine! His early life was filled with revelry and sinfulness and his Mother, Saint Monica prayed fervently for his conversion. We also know that conversion did happen, he was baptized, later ordained and eventually became a Bishop. During his lifetime it is said he wrote thousands of letters of theological value. He is best known for his philosophical works, the Confessions and City of God.
Because of his wild and unpredictable early days, Augustine has been described as an ‘unlikely convert’. We can see that this unlikely convert did experience conversion and went on to be a true gift of our church. Over the many years of walking with candidates through the RCIA process, I was given to remember the times that our team and myself would share concerns about the sincerity or intention of certain inquirers and question what our course of action should be. There are two instances of this uncertainty that come to mind. One young man who came faithfully through the process, asked questions, pondered the material presented, but always did so with an edge, an angry disposition. In the end, the Holy Spirit won out and in turn he is one of the most faithful and active parishioners to this day. The other person, a young lady, college student, was a hit and miss inquirer. When she did come, sometimes she actively participated in the process, but many times, just not real committed. It was a difficult decision we made to suggest she take a break, spend some time in prayer and reflection with her sponsor and reenter at another time. We were very pleased when we heard several years later she had gone through the process elsewhere and was welcomed into full communion and happy in her new church home.
The Holy Spirit that brought Saint Augustine and these two inquirers through a conversion in faith is the same spirit that led the Thessalonian community in faith and action. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy gave worthy praise to this community for their unceasing faith, love and endurance. They put their faith in God rather than idols, just as Saint Augustine did and the inquirers we heard about in the previous paragraph. We are all frail humans, we make rash decisions, we jump to conclusions, we are sinful and we all need to remember the responsorial psalm of today,
‘The Lord takes delight in his people.’
God takes delight in all that God has created, living and non-living creation. We are called to do the same. A favorite quote of mine attributed to Saint Augustine gives me pause to do just that.
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” -Saint Augustine
May we all take time out of our busyness to ‘rest in God’ and enjoy the peace that comes through it.
Theresa Secord is a retired Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.