Today the Church commemorates Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian. Our devotion comes from Celebrating the Saints.
Born in North Africa in 354, Augustine’s brilliance was early recognized. He studied rhetoric and advanced readily as an instructor. He was intrigued by various worldly philosophies: first, Manichaeism with its dualism; then Plotinus’s version of Neo-Platonism. Christianity seemed to him quite impoverished when it came to its philosophical depth. He lived a morally dissolute life, as he freely admits in his Confessions, taking a concubine and fathering a son out of wedlock.
God answered his mother’s fervent prayers through encountering St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan. Here was a man who knew rhetoric and was conversant in the various philosophies and yet who wholeheartedly embraced the Christian faith. Augustine, under his catechesis, soon became a Christian and was baptized. “Late have I loved Thee!” he cried out in his Confessions.
Ordained a priest and later consecrated a bishop of Hippo (in modern-day Algeria), Augustine turned that remarkable intellect toward the task of expounding the Sacred Scriptures and governing the Church. He vigorously confronted the Donatist schism and showed its errors from the Scripture, and he later did the same for the Pelagian controversy. His defense of salvation being by grace alone earned him the moniker "The Doctor of Grace." His major writings include not only the aforementioned Confessions, but also City of God, Enchiridion, On the Spirit and the Letter, and a Harmony of the four Gospels.
The great man died in AD 430 as the Germanic Vandals besieged his beloved Hippo. When they finally took the city, all of it was burned save St. Augustine’s cathedral and library. He was early commemorated as a great gift of God to His Church.
Devotion is adapted from Celebrating the Saints by William C. Weedon, page 154–55 © 2016 William C. Weedon; published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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.
Prayer is from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 666–67 © 2008 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.