Friday, March 11, 2011

Augustine's Confession

The original tell all autobiography, authored by a bishop in North Africa, is more than sixteen hundred years old.  I first read it in college, and I've enjoyed flipping back through it to reread my comments and underlinings.  What's most amazing about the book is how much we can relate to Augustine.  His temptations and sins are so familiar to a modern reader, which reminds us that no matter how much our lives have changed over the centuries human nature has remained remarkably similar.

Among the most famous passages is in chapter 8, when Augustine has decided to leave behind his sinful ways and reform his life.  But he still finds himself putting off the change:

"...I, convinced by the truth, had no answer to give except merely slow and sleepy words: At once - but presently - just a little longer, please...but 'just a little longer, please' went on and on for a long while."

Who hasn't promised to make a change in his or her life that never seems to happen?  From the diet that always starts next Monday to the career change or move and everything in between, we can relate to Augustine's struggle.

Shortly after his struggle to submit to conversion, Augustine also noted that human pleasures are satisfying primarily when they follow discomforts.  In his words, "There is no pleasure in eating and drinking unless they are preceded by the unpleasant sensation of hunger and thirst."  Feeling a bit under the weather today myself, I know that I will appreciate my health more soon.  Going through the experience of Lent makes Easter that much sweeter.  We confess in order to be forgiven, and Augustine's story reminds us not to delay but to take action.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, there is so much of life that we take for granted until we no longer have it: people and jobs being two that the current events remind us of. Lent reminds us that all people will only be with us for a short time, so we need to make time for each other.