Monday, April 25

In Spite of Himself

"And we were baptized and all anxiety for our past life vanished away." With these joyous words Augustine recorded his entrance into the church on this day in the 387 AD.

Born in North Africa in 354 of a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine became, at twelve years of age a student at Carthage, and at sixteen, a teacher of grammar. His mother was determined to see him become a Christian and baptized. He was equally determined to have his pleasures. He took a mistress and she bore him a son, Adeodatus. At 29 his restless spirit drove him to Italy. In Rome he taught rhetoric for a year, but was cheated of his fees. He then moved to Milan where he came under the influence of Ambrose, bishop of the city.

In spite of himself he began to drift toward faith. At last, in a moment of crisis, he came to grace. Immediately he thrust aside those sins of the flesh which had held him bondage. At his mother's death, he returned to Africa where he founded a small scholastic community--and later became bishop of Hippo. Over the course of the last forty years of his life, he proved to be a subtle theologian who more than any other stamped his imprint upon Western culture.

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