8/28/10

St. Augustine of Hippo


Icon by Nancy Oliphant

We couldn't observe St. Monica's day (August 27) and then forget her son Augustine's day (August 28).

St. Augustine is one of the most influential persons in the history of Christendom. His influence on theology and church life is great. You'll find a thumb-nail sketch of his life here.

(The image on the left is the work of John Nava in an installation at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Click on the image on the left for a larger version. Augustine is the middle figure of these five, from left to right: Jurgis Matulaitis, Bernard, Augustine, John the Baptist, Maria Venegas.)

Augustine is my patron saint. (The Gaelic for Augustine is Aibhistín {awv-ish-teen} which comes into English as Austin.) I remember that when I was a child my father (also named Austin, after his uncle in Ireland) would sometimes call me Aibhistín.

My patron's work on original sin played no small part in rewriting the baptismal practice of our Church. A prayer of his, written just after his own baptism, is a favorite of mine and one I return to often - and always when on retreat. Perhaps you will make these words part of your prayer as we celebrate St. Augustine.

Too late, have I loved you,
O Beauty ever ancient, ever new,
too late have I loved you!

You were with me, and I was not with you;
I was away,
running after beautiful things which you created;
things which could have no existence except for you,
and yet they kept me from you.

Then you called, you cried out,
and you pierced my deafness.
You enlightened, you shone forth,
and now my blindness has vanished.

I have tasted you;
now I hunger and thirst for you.
You breathed your fragrance upon me;
I drew in breath and now I long for you.
You have touched me, and I am on fire
with the desire of your embrace.


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2 comments:

Faith said...

Did you read the entire book of Augustine's Confession? Well, here's a synopsis. http://rinkworks.com/bookaminute/b/augustine.confessions.shtml

Anonymous said...

Love the prayer of St. Augustine. Happy Name Day.

Rosemary