The Confessions of St. Augustine

confessionsThe Confessions of St. Augustine
Books One to Ten

St. Augustine of Hippo
General Editor Rosalie De Rosset
Moody Classics, Moody Publishers 1981, 2007

St Augustine was born in November, 354 and died in August, 430 but his influence upon the Catholic Church and the Christian church at large remains strong.  He has strong views regarding original sin, free will, sexuality and slavery.  In his Confessions, he focuses on his tendency to sin against God, his venture into heresy through Manichaeism and his ultimate return to the Catholic Church as a mature man.

The First Book – Augustine confesses the greatness and unsearchable nature of God and relates his “sins” as a youth up to age 15. “Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou mayest enter in. It lies in ruins; repair Thou it.  Pg 22

The Second Book – Confessions of more sins leading to idleness and theft. “For Thy omnipotency is not far from us, even when we are far from Thee.” Pg 45

The Third Book – Confessions of heresy during his 17th through 19th years and causing much grief to his mother. “Upon how grievous iniquities consumed I myself, pursuing a sacrilegious curiosity, that having forsaken Thee, it might bring me to the treacherous abyss… .”  Pg 61

The Fourth Book – Augustine’s life from age 19 to 28 and entertaining wrong notions of God. “…for by the voices of my own errors I was hurried abroad, and under the weight of my own pride, I was sinking into the depths.” Pg 98

The Fifth Book – In his 29th year he leaves heresy behind and rejoins the Catholic Church. “…I despaired of finding the truth, from which they had turned me aside…O Lord of Heaven and earth,…”  Pg 119

The Sixth Book – Augustine’s gradual abandonment of error and debates life, death and judgment. “Life is vain, death uncertain; if it steals upon us suddenly, in what state shall we depart this world?”  Pg 146

The Seventh Book – In his 31st year he completely abandons heresy but is still unable to fully embrace the Catholic Church. “He that knows the Truth, knows what that Light is; and he that knows It, knows eternity.”  Pg 171

The Eight Book – His 32nd year and his longing to devote himself entirely to God but is overwhelmed by his sins. “Thus soul-sick was I, and tormented, accusing myself much more severely than is my custom, rolling and turning me in my chain, till that was wholly broken,… .”  Pg 206

The Ninth Book – During his 33rd year his mother passes away and he moves to the country to devote himself to God. “Read it, who will, and interpret it, how he will: and if he finds sin therein, that I wept my mother for a small portion of an hour (the mother who for the time was dead to mine eyes, who had for many years wept for me, that I might live in Your eyes), let him not scorn me;.”  Pg 240

The Tenth Book – Augustine looks back on what he was before he received the Grace of Baptism and contemplates God. “Not with doubting, but with sure understanding do I love You, Lord. You have transformed my heart with Your word, and I loved You.”  Pgs 248-249

This book is chock full of the eternal struggle between the free will of man and the Spirit nature of God; it is certainly a must read for any theology or seminary student. But for the average layman, especially ones who are not used to reading the King James Version of the Bible, it is a difficult read. The message is powerful and valuable but the centuries old language structure and the use of ‘thee’, ‘thou, and ‘thine’ as well as the adding of ‘eth’ or ‘est’ to verbs (at least in the translation I read) is really hard to push through. In the quotes above I changed the difficult words (i.e.: ‘You’ for Thee’) to more comfortable words but for me it was impossible to do with the entire book. I would love to reread the book if I found a modern translation of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws for the spiritual message but 2 out of 5 paws for the difficult read, which results in an overall rating of:

3 paws

jackReviewer: Jack

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