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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Tuesday

Memorial of St. Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

Today the Church celebrates St. Augustine, a fifth-century bishop of Hippo in northern Africa, and a doctor of the Church. Of course, the more interesting saint in Augustine’s family is his mother, Monica, whom the church celebrated yesterday. Without Monica’s unshakeable faith, there would be no St. Augustine. As it turned out, his keen mind and rigorous faith helped shape how the Church and the whole Christian and medieval world viewed original sin, divine grace, Christian anthropology, slavery, astrology, ecclesiology, and the just war theory.

St. Augustine was a former professor of rhetoric, and his writings—especially his autobiographical Confessions—have inspired disciples for Christ for centuries. Listen to a few of his sentences: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new; late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath, and now I pant for you. I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

In the Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion, Augustine is considered a saint and a preeminent doctor of the church. He is the patron of the Augustinian Order and patron saint of brewers, printers, and theologians. Although some of his teachings, like predestination and original sin, are controversial on some points, he is still considered one of the most influential saints in history.

According to his close friend, fellow bishop, and biographer, Possidius, Augustine was a man who ate sparingly, worked tirelessly, despised gossip, shunned the temptations of the flesh, and exercised prudence in the financial stewardship of his diocese. He spent his final days in prayer and repentance, requesting that the Psalms be hung on his walls so that he could read them. Roman Africa was under attack by the Vandals at the time, and Augustine prayed for the deliverance of Hippo, his home city. The Vandals lifted their siege of Hippo for a time, and the city was saved. Some years later they returned to burn the city to the ground, although Augustine’s well-preserved library and the church where he worshipped were untouched.

St. Augustine died on this day, August 28, in 430 A.D. St. Monica and St. Augustine, please pray for us.