The Conversion of St. Augustine

On the liturgical calendar of the Augustinian order, today is the feast of the Conversion of Our Holy Father Augustine. It’s a great time to return to the Confessions, and I have also been working on a (still somewhat rough!) poem to commemorate the feast, and thought I’d share it with our readers. For those who are interested, the Office for the feast can be found here.

Conversion of St. Augustine by Fra Angelico

Tolle, lege. These words begot a soul.
At last the man his sins begins to spurn.
Platonic books can teach, but not make whole,
For still our very hearts to Truth must turn.

Inquietum est cor nostrum.

Rememb’ring, understanding, love in us
The image of the Triune God do show.
But still these three, though they do image thus,
Still lack, ’til God they do recall, and love, and know.

Fecisti nos ad te.

From age to age two ancient cities see,
The one by Cain from Abel’s blood was formed,
The other, Christ’s blood made, to set those free
Whom God decreed to Him would be conformed.

Fecerunt itaque civitates duas amores duo.

Against the devil’s pow’r and pride that’s dead,
You teach to us our Lord’s humility
By which he brings us to himself by bread.
“Not only Christians, no, but Christ are we!”

Cibus sum grandium.

And Christ we are, though we were full of sin;
Through gift of grace, God’s love in us is poured
Our wills to flame, convert, drown out the din
Of sinful love, and turn them to the Lord.

Donec requiescat in te.

Such gifts good God has sent you from above!
I read your heart upon the page, I fall in love.
Dear holy Austin, pray, I ask, for me,
That I might know the Truth, the Truth Who sets us free.

Joshua GonnermanJoshua Gonnerman lives in Washington, DC, where he is pursuing a doctorate in historical theology. His main focus is on Augustine, and he hopes to dissertate on Augustine’s doctrine of grace. He has also occasionally published in First ThingsSpiritual Friendship, and PRISM Magazine, where he makes small attempts to help re-orient the way the Church relates to gay peopleHe can be followed on Twitter: @JoshuaGonnerman.

3 thoughts on “The Conversion of St. Augustine

  1. There is at least one sore sticking point for critics of Saint Augustine. He has allegedly demonized sexuality and sexual feelings (even involuntary “glue of lust”), or at best waxed cynical about them or reduced it to a mechanical method of making babies. Even if that isn’t entirely true, surely it still might have some basis in reality. I often wonder if he was some kind of sex addict before his conversion. Could your or any of your colleagues publicly address Augustin’s apparent fear and loathing of sexuality?

  2. Brian. Augustine did in fact believe that sex was sin even in the context of marriage. But he went through many transitions, as all humans do, and so he held different views about different things at different points in his life. If you message me I can get you more info on Augustine’s view of sex. Use the contact form on my web site.

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