By Catholic Digest Staff
Feast Day: August 28
One of the great figures of Western civilization, St. Augustine played many roles during his life: bishop, doctor of the church, philosopher, scholar, founder, and theologian. “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” He was also always a student, forever studying, seeking, and learning. His deep, introspective search into humankind’s struggle between flesh and spirit, paired with his uncanny ability to comprehend human experiences, forever fueled his desire to understand. Raised as a Christian but embracing a hedonistic pagan lifestyle, he originally went to school in Carthage with the intent of becoming a lawyer. Swept away by the classical works he encountered, especially pieces that focused on the conflict between good and evil, he secretly abandoned the field of law for rhetoric, philosophy, and theology. A young man, Augustine was equally fascinated by women and ideas. He viewed married love as a type of wholeness, though did not marry (despite his Catholic mother’s wishes). On one hand, he supported a woman’s right to refuse marriage despite social pressures. However, he also thought of women as sinful, dangerous temptations that can pollute a man’s life, which was a fairly common belief in his time period. One of his famously human prayers was, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Later on in his life he was inspired to convert and was baptized, becoming known as a man of integrity (“If justice be absent, what is a kingdom but a crowd of gangsters?”) and wrote at great lengths about his personal experiences. He was appointed the Bishop of Hippo and continued to grapple with deep philosophical questions about the nature of man and God, his insights and reflections contributing greatly to Western ideas. He died in 430 while the city was under siege from the Vandals.