Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian

Commemoration of Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian
August 28

The Lord be with youSt. Augustine of Hippo is depicted in a stained-glass window in Crosier House in Phoenix. The fifth-century doctor of the church, perhaps known best for "Confessions," an autobiographical account of his conversion to Christianity, now has a MySpace page, (CNS photo/Crosiers) (June 12, 2007) See MYSPACE-SAINT June 12, 2007.

We remember Augustine of Hippo today. He was one of the greatest of the Latin Church Fathers and a significant influence in the formation of Western Christianity, including Lutheranism.

Augustine was born Aurelius Augustinus, November 13, 354 AD, in Tagaste, modern Souk Ahras in Algeria (North Africa), to a Christian Mother (Monica, her day is August 27) and a Pagan father (Patricius). Monica attempted to raise him as a Christian, but without success. Augustine’s early life was distinguished by exceptional advancement as a teacher of rhetoric. In his book Confessions he describes his life before his conversion to Christianity, when he was drawn into the moral laxity of the day and fathered an illegitimate son. At this time he was a follower of Manichaeism, a dualistic religion born in Persia.

Through the devotion of his sainted mother, Monica, and the preaching of Ambrose, bishop of Milan (339-97 AD), Augustine was converted to the Christian faith and baptized at the Easter Vigil in 387. (Ambrose’s commemoration is December 7.) His mother died as they were traveling back to Africa. At first he lived a kind of monastic life. In 391, he visited the city of Hippo. Against his will, the Christians there chose him to be their pastor. From that time on, until his death, Hippo was his residence. He was ordained a priest in four years and, shortly thereafter, became the Bishop of Hippo. He served in that office for thirty-five years.

During the great Pelegian controversies of the fifth century, Augustine emphasized the unilateral grace of God in the salvation of mankind. (Pelegianism taught that we save ourselves by our own good deeds.) Bishop and theologian at Hippo in North Africa from 395 AD until his death in 430 AD, Augustine was a man of great intelligence, a fierce defender of the orthodox faith, and a prolific writer. In addition to Confessions, Augustine’s book City of God had a great impact upon the Church throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Prayer: O Lord God, the light of the minds that know You, the life of the souls that love You, and the strength of the hearts that serve You, give us strength to follow the example of Your servant Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You—for to serve You is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers:

• For wayward children
• For the churches in North Africa
• For those who search for the truth, especially young people who are struggling to find meaning
• For teachers
• For those who defend the truth
• For a deeper love of the Scriptures

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert