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Monday, April 23, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI on St Augustine: Conversion is a lifelong journey

Following on the post here on St Augustine, Argent by the Tiber provides a report on the pastoral visit by the Pope to Pavia and lengthy extracts of his homilies there.

At the place where the relics of St Augustine are kept, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the saint’s life journey as the ideal itinerary for every Christian.

“It can be seen quite clearly that his conversion was not an event of one moment in time, but a journey”.

“What was the most essential aspect of this journey? Augustine on one hand was a product of his times, profoundly conditioned by the dominant habits and passions of his era, as well as all of the questions and problems pertaining to his young age. He lived exactly like the rest of the men of his time, and yet there was something special in him: he remained a person in continual search. He never contented himself with life as it was presented to him and as other lived it. He was forever tormented by the question of the truth”.

“He wanted to find the truth. He wanted to succeed in finding out what man is; where the world comes from; where we come from, where we are going to and how we can find out the truth. He wanted to find the road to truth and not just live blindly, without aim or objective. His passion for the truth is the key to reading his life. And there is yet another peculiarity regarding the saint. All that did not bear the name of Christ was of no use to him”.

“He tells us that, through Platonic Philosophy, he had learned that ‘in the beginning there was the Word’ - Logos, creative reason. But philosophy did not show him how to reach it; this Logos was intangible and distant. Only in the faith of the Church did he find the second essential truth: the Word became flesh. And thus it touches us and we touch it. "

"The humility of God’s incarnation must correspond to the humility of our faith, which does away with high-toned superbia and bows low as it enters to become part of the community of Christ’s body; which lives with the Church. Only in this way, can the faithful enter into concrete communion, bodily communion with the living God. It is unnecessary to point out how much all of this regards us today: be eternal searchers for the truth, do not content yourself with what others do or say. Do not be distracted from the eternal God and Jesus Christ. Renew the humility of your faith in the bodily Church of Jesus Christ”.

“Augustine reached yet another level of humility not only the humility of entrusting his great thought to the faith of the Church, not only the humility of translating his great knowledge into the simplicity of the Good News, but also the humility to recognise that the merciful goodness of God who forgives was continually necessary for him and for the entire pilgrim Church; and we become similar to Christ, the Perfect one, in the greatest possible way when we become merciful people like Him."

"I now give God thanks for the great light that irradiates from the knowledge and humility of Saint Augustine, let us pray that He gifts us all, each day the necessary conversion that leads us towards the one true life”.


See also Augnet.