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Nov. Serdan Deguit Devero Jr. The City of God is St. Augustine’s longest and most comprehensive work. Probably, Augustine began writing this literary masterpiece during the intermittent intervals between 415 and 427 AD. He devoted a good part of writing this work at the age of fifty-nine. By such period of his life, he had been rich in personal experiences. The work had an apologetic purpose defending Christianity during the years AD 414-415. Gradually, the theme of the entire work became the concept of society, which not only went far beyond anything that it is to be found in ancient political theory but also became a social ideal for the medieval and modern Christianperiod. No wonder, no other books except the Holy Bible per se had a far greater influence in the twentieth century that the City of God. Such work as a whole is vital and as well as important in understanding our world and how it came into being. [Bourke, 249] Besides, the title of the work is taken from the Holy Bible, particularly on Psalms 87:3, which says “Glorious things are spoken of you, O City of God,” and is intended as an ironic reply to the slanderous and libelous accusations that were being leveled at Christianity by its pagan detractors. Necessary to say, therefore, that St. Augustine is possibly the most influential Christian thinker next to St. Paul and this work is his magnum opus-a vast and huge synthesis of religious and secular knowledge. In this paper, however, no attempt will be made to give a detailed summary of the whole contents of the City of God. It will, perhaps suffice to offer a brief review of the subject, mainly the Book XIV, entitled Two Loves Originates Two Different Cities. Some discussions of the salient points especially the important quotations of the general argument of the work will be exposed. Obviously, the briefness of these remarks is not due to any lack of respect for the importance of the City of God as an expression of the mature thought of St. Augustine. Such work then, is one of the foundation books in the area of Christian literature. [Bourke, 250] Below is the summary of Book XIV of the City of God. The Book XIV with its heading Two Loves Originates Two Different Cities brings to a close account of the origin of two cities. Here, Augustine treats the original sin committed by our for parents Adam and Eve that left us all human beings subject to the penalty of spiritual death, which consists in having to be eternally without God. Their first sin is the cause of carnal life and of the vicious affectations. Augustine greatly puts it down: “The sin which they committed was so great that it impaired all human nature—in this sense, that the nature has been transmitted to posterity with a propensity to sin and a necessity to die.” (City of God, 14, 1) However, the grace and gift of God made it possible for man to live again with God
Nevertheless, Augustine sees again that eating the forbidden fruit is apparently a small sin; the very sin itself is disobedience to what God has commanded. He upholds “However, what is really involved in God’s prohibition is obedience, the virtue which is, so to speak, the mother and guardian of all the virtues of a rational creature.” (City of God, 14, 11) Indeed, obedience, then, is the mother of all virtues and it is always advantageous for reasonable creatures, while disobedience is the mother of all vice. On the other hand, the aspect of God, above all, has foreknew and forewilled everything in this world. Augustine denoted something in this experience when he said “The truth is that, by His omniscience, God could foresee two future realities: how bad man whom God had created good was to become and how much good God was to make out this very evil.” (City of God, 14, 12) Within the pages of the book also is the question: Why did our first parents was tempted? By this, Augustine answered briefly: “Our first parents only fell openly into the sin of disobedience because secretly they had begun to be guilty. Actually their bad deed could not have been done had not bad will preceded it; what is more, the root of their bad will was nothing else than pride.” (City of God, 14, 13) Truly, as a result, it is because they were already secretly corrupted. An evil act is preceded by an evil will. Evil originates from pride. Pride means the undue exultation for the self leading to abandoning God. The soul wants to become an end in itself. It becomes its own satisfaction. It falls away from the unchangeable good, which is God. Those who are proud are designated by the name “self-pleasers.” All the more, the soul becomes proud because it already is wicked even before the woman had eaten the forbidden fruit. Consequently, by living and experiencing the life according to God is to be humble enough all the time. Because, for Augustine, it is in humility that we submit all our longings in life to what is above us. While having pride is refusing to subjection and revolting from Him who is all-powerful and supreme. In our case, as human beings, we have no right to be proud because we owe our life to the one Creator, who created us of nothing. Augustine emphasized this one through the following statement: “Therefore, God forbade that which, when committed, could be defended by no pretense of sanctity. And I am willing to say that it is advantageous for the proud to fall into some open and manifest sin, and so become displeasing to themselves, after they had already fallen by pleasing themselves.” (City of God, 14, 14) As a result, it is always in the virtue of humility, which is recommended to the City of God as it sojourns in this world and is especially exhibited in the City of God and in the passion of Christ the King. In pride, moreover, Augustine meets out that man was ensnared to the pleasure of listening to this “Ye shall be as gods.” He said, “For many reasons, then, the punishment meted out for disobeying God’s order and design was just. It was God who had created man. He made man in His own image, set man above all other animals, placed him in Paradise and given him abundance of goods and of well being. (City of God, 14 15) However, by craving to be more, man becomes less and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly suffices him. Pride goes before the destruction. Secret ruin precedes open ruin. Augustine further points out the connotation of pride in man by cautiously saying that “Man, who had pleased himself because of pride, was abandoned by divine justice to his own resources–not, that is, to his power but to his weakness…” (City of God, 14 15)
Not to eat the forbidden fruit is just an easy commandment. But when it was committed, there was disobedience, which is imperceptible in Paradise and detestable for man becomes disobedient even into death. The penalty annexed to disobedience is great but the thing commended by the Creator is easy. Therefore, man cannon sufficiently and satisfactorily estimate how great a wickedness it is, not to obey the authority of so great a power, even when that power deters which so terrible a penalty. On another sphere of the book, Augustine also treats of the shame, which our foreparents experienced when they realized that they were naked. This is because of the sin of lust. He inscribed “There are, then, many kinds of lusts for this or that, but when the word is used by itself without specification it suggests to most people the lust for sexual excitement.” (City of God, 14, 16) Such is the lust that does not merely invade the whole body and outward of it, but it takes complete and passionate possession of the pleasures of the whole men, both physically and emotionally, that what results is the keenest of all pleasures on the level of sensation and at the crisis of excitement, it practically paralyzes all power of deliberate thought. Lust insofar as it is concerned is not only the excitement of the generative organs but also of the inner man, of what is within. Mental emotion is mingled with bodily appetite. Lustful pleasure is the greatest of all bodily pleasures, Lust in a sense, for Augustine, begets shame since their eyes were opened, opened in a sense that they had discerned between the good they had lost and the evil to which they had fallen. Though lustful pleasures are permitted in society (rampant sex), many still experience shame and shrink from the public eye. This action seeks the light yet dreads to be seen. This is shame and it is a penalty for his sin. This shame, however, is associated with the idea of procreation. Augustine claimed this stating “The shame now is associated with procreation is noted together with the view of Cynic school that the marital act is good that the marital act is good and so might well be performed in public. Criticizing this, Augustine speculates on the possibility of procreation without lust, on the peculiar things some people can do with their bodies (such as wiggling both ears). The point is made again that no man can be perfectly happy.” (City of God, 14, 19-25) Now the point is that man longs to live, but only so longed to live, as God willed him to live in the enjoyment of God and he must be in communication in the goodness of God. Such life, then, is free from want, and he is free to prolong life as long as he chooses. Within the later pages of the book, Augustine also posted this question: “Why would God create man whom He foresaw would sin?” Herein, Augustine, in a straight line answered “It was because both of them and by means of them He could reveal how much deserved by their guilt and condoned by His grace and also, because the harmony of the whole of reality which God has created and controls cannot be marred by the perverse discordance of those who sin…” (City of God, 14, 26) By this, the point that Augustine wanted to drive out here is that though the first man has been so constituted by sins, he or she still needs and capable of the help of God through transforming themselves wisely and justly. Augustine, likewise, marks out the importance of this area: “The point here is that the first man had constituted, that if, as a good man, he had relied on the help of God, he could overcome the bad angel, whereas, he was bound to be overcome is he proudly relied on his own will in preference to this wisdom of his Maker and Helper, God.” (City of God, 14, 27)
As a consequence of the fall, the carnal life is only living in bodily indulgences (fornications, uncleanness, lasciviousness, drunkenness, reveling, etc.) but also in the vices of the inner ma, that is to say, the soul (witchcraft, variance, hatred, emulation, strife, heresies, envy, idolatry, etc.). This is because it is but possible for a man to abstain from fleshly pleasures and yet living after the flesh. Sin, therefore, is not caused by the flesh but by the soul. The devil, for instance, has no body or flesh yet is sinful. Augustine then exemplified his experience in the following passage; “Our immediate task, then, must be to see what it means to live, first, according to the flesh and second, according to the soul which is tantamount to the spirit...” (City of God, 14, 2) Following this thought, exhorts that to live according to man means to live a life of lies and doing what man himself will. On the other hand, to live according to God means a life of truth and doing what God wills. Life according to God means happiness, for God alone is the source of perfect happiness. He simply wrote it: “Man indeed desires happiness even when he does so live as to make happiness impossible for You are the true and real source of happiness…” (City of God, 14, 4) Thus, the Epicurean view that the movements of the sensory appetites or passion are essentially vicious is again rejected and repudiated. As a result, the good Christian does not aim and desire in the state of apathy that is stilling of all his emotions and feelings but at a condition in which the passions are keeping pace by his will and so made virtuous. Nonetheless, Augustine had this in mind that corruption (death and aging) is the manifestation and a sign of punishment of man’s original sin. It is the sinful soul that made the flesh corruptible. The flesh is so good to a certain degree, for God who is all good and powerful creates it. But living according to the created good alone is not good. Augustine urged too much on this portion by empathetically saying that “we ought not, therefore, to blame our sins and defects on the nature of the flesh for this is to disparage the Creator. The flesh, in its own kind and order is good…” (City of God, 14, 5) Thus, what is not good is to abandon the goodness of God only in pursuit of some created good, whether by living deliberately according to the flesh or according to the soul or according to the entire human creation which is made up of soul and flesh and which is the reason why either soul or flesh alone can mean a human. The same hold true with that of man’s will, which makes the affectations of the soul right or wrong. Augustine held about this man’s will in the following words: “man’s will, then, is allimportant. If it is badly directed, the emotions will be perverse; if it is rightly directed, the emotions will not be merely blameless but even praiseworthy…” (City of God, 14, 6) So, none of the sins is anything but the wrongful will have committed it. The affectations of the soul including desire (seeking to possess things we wish), joy (enjoying the things we wish), fear (turning away from that which we don’t wish to happen) and sorrow (turning away from that which has happened against our will). Therefore, to live according to God is to will only the good and hate the evil. It is to hate the vice but live the man, to hate the sin and not the sinner. Augustine carefully concluded this portion: “It is clear that the man who does not live according to man but according to God must be a lover of the good and, therefore a hater of evil; since no man is wicked by nature who is wicked only by some defect, a man who lives according to God owes it to wicked men that his hatred be perfect. For once the corruption has been cured, then all that is left should be loved and nothing remains to be hated.” (City of God, 14, 7-10)
Finally, the book ends up by concluding and finishing the explanation of the two societies being issued from the two kinds of love. Augustine concluded all the way through these words: “What we see, then, is that the two societies have issued from two kings of love. Worldly societies has flowered from a selfish love which dared to despise even God, whereas the communion of saints is rooted in a love of God that is ready to trample on self.. In a word, this later relies on the Lord, whereas the other boasts that it can get along by itself…” (City of God, 14, 28) Indeed, Augustine, by writing this book, admits and declares that the City of Man loves the self even to the contempt of God; glorifies in itself, rules because of the love of ruling; delights in its own strength seeks for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both; glorifies its own wisdom, possesses pride; and worships idols. On the other hand, the City of God loves God even to the contempt of the self; glorifies God, rules in order to serve one another in love; delights in God as its strength; praises Godly wisdom, worships God alone and views reward in society of saints, angels, and holy men that God may be all in all.
*** References Augustine. The City of God. Edited with an introduction by Vernon J. Bourke. New York: Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc. 1958. Vernon J. Bourke. Augustine’s Quest of Wisdom. Milwaukee, Wis. The Bruce Publishing Company, 1947
THE CONFESSIONS A Synopsis
The Confession is the last product of Augustine’s youth and the first work of his maturity. It is one of the three major works of Augustine containing thirteen books, written at around 397 AD. This work is clearly divided into parts or division. The first nine books contain much of Augustine’s autobiographical memories covering the years 354 to 387 AD. The tenth book deals with Augustine’s present state of life, describes as the fruit of his second thoughts and his continuing discussion of the nature of memory and as well as for a frighteningly scrupulous examination of conscience. Finally, the last three books contain an allegorical and figurative exposition of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, particularly Genesis 1:1-31, that concerns with the existence and the nature of man wishing only to know God more fully and, of course, wishing also to know first his destiny in life as a human being. Besides, the Confessions is a deeply moving account of a brilliant but dissolute man and his encounter with God and His grace. Thus, it is often classified next to the Bible that is the most widely read and influential Christian book were written. No doubt, it is the most studied of all Augustine’s works in the 20th Century. It is literary, theological and a philosophical masterpiece. It is a work of a long, passionate prayer. It is also a poetic kind of work whose authorship is being acknowledged by many as the greatest Father of the Church. Because of this, the facts of Augustine’s youth are better known than those of any figure in antiquity. Henceforth, in the long run, the Confessions is the theory of the life of man in general and the theory of life for Augustine in particular. That is why the truth that Augustine made in the Confessions had eluded him for years. It appears before us as a trophy worn out of grip of the unsayable after the prolonged struggle on the frontier between speech and science. The truth of which Augustine spoke in the Confessions is not merely a quality of verbal formula, but rather, the veracity itself, a quality of a living human person. Because for Augustine, to write a book, then, supposed to make truth not merely a reflection upon the actions of his life but pure act of itself, thought and writing becomes the enactment of ideas. Behind this fundamental act of the self lay powerful and evident anxiety—evident on every page of the Confessions. Augustine is urgently concerned with the right use of words language, longing to say the right thing in the right way. Besides, the first page of the text is tissue of uncertainty, because to use a word or a language erroneously is to find oneself praising a god who is not God. This anxiety is being intensified by the time he discovers that he possess an interior world cut off from other people, and that, he realizes it all lies open before God . There is nowhere to hide away and nowhere to run away. Indeed, such work as the Confessions runs even deeper to everyone’s life. Augustine believes that human beings are solid and knowledgeable to themselves no less than to others. We are not who we think we are. One of the things Augustine had to confess is that he was and had been himself sharply different from who he thought he was. Not only was this true of his youthful days, but it remained true at the time of confessing—he did not know to what temptations he might next submit.
Below is the synopsis of the Confessions. Book One and Two typically describes Augustine’s infancy, childhood and the beginning of his adolescent life. In both books, Augustine is portrayed as a sinner. No wonder in the opening of the Confessions, Augustine begins and addresses a prayer to God confessing his sins by saying “Great art Thou, o Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and of Thy wisdom there is no other.” (Confessions, 1, 1) In this, Augustine embodies his own principle from Christian Doctrine that he who speaks of religion should rely on the language of sacred scripture itself. To add, the content of these lines is praise: a humble mortal enunciates the greatness of God, greatness of action and contemplation, of power and wisdom, embracing all that is. Hence, the kind of great prayer he asks who the real God is all the more important since it revealed to human beings above every other things. The events of infancy and childhood are also described on this part, not by memory but rather from the nature of infancy and childhood in general, as observed in other children. He recalled himself as a prodigal wandering far from his homeland. He is likely o be called Odysseus on a voyage. No doubt, he prays again to God saying that “As a boy, I fell into the way of calling upon You, my Help and my Refuge; and in those prayers, I broke the string of my tongue—praying to You.” (Confessions, 1, 9) Commonly, Augustine in this text will return to the theme of the vanity of his education and to the false values that were imparted to him. Thus, this kind of prayer set the stage for the journey upward to God. The same holds true with his adolescent period. As Augustine recalled and discovered in it the roots of the disordered life he was going to lead. This period of his life brings to him fullscale of happiness and beauty in life through the pleasures of the senses and of the mind. He then brings the gift and need for friendship. However, this kind of friendship is clouded with lust and the self-centered use of others. Thus, Augustine only becomes aware of the beauty, material and intellectual pursuit of life even the bonds of friendship in its strictest sense of the word. Finally, also in this part of his life where he recognized the development of his personal qualities, love of truth and goodness that will eventually bring him closer to the loving knowledge of God in the following years of his life since God always speaks to him through his young life. The second book of the Confessions ends with Augustine facing his own adolescent act in all its trivial magnitude saying “Who can disentangle that twisted and intricate knottiness? Foul is it: I hate to think on it, to look on it… I sank away from Thee, and I wandered, my God, too much astray from thee my stay, in these days of my youth, and I became to myself a barren land.” (Confessions, 2, 10-18) Book Three narrates the central events of his life as a student in Carthage. As he began to make his way in the new place, the tensions that had marked his childhood took on new forms and created new anxieties. He was beginning a life as a teacher and a student of ancient literature, committed on the propagation of the ancient ideas of man, nature and the divine that was rooted in the literary tradition. Cicero was his favorite guide in these years and it was the Hortensius of Cicero that was the spur to all his searches for truth. During this time, he recalled himself that he already excelled in his intellectual undertakings. He later wrote: “I was not yet in love, but I loved love itself. I sought something to love. To love and to be loved was sweet to me…” (Confessions, 3, 7)
Such encounter of Cicero’s Hortensius lead him to read the Sacred Scriptures much in the manner that his encounter with the words of St. Paul. As a result of reading this book, he tells us: “My spirit was filled with an extraordinary and burning desire for immortality of my wisdom. I was on fire then, my God. I was on [sic] fire to leave earthly things behind to you nor did I know what you would do with me; for with You is my wisdom.” (Confessions, 3, 56-57) Book Four gives details about the tine when Augustine joined the Manicheism movement. This is a movement founded by Mani, who viewed himself as a prophet and perhaps even the Holy Spirit himself. Augustine, moreover, by this time took up with the Manichees and pursued the life of perfection it offered. Manicheism was a self-absorbed movement on the periphery of Christianity that crossed the line separating church from cult. It seemed to offer a more rational, scientific picture of the world than did the simple Augustine may have thought superstitious, orthodox teachings. He joined and stayed this sect and made became a member for almost nine years. Like everyone else, Augustine was searching for answers and meanings of life. Nonetheless, for some years later, Augustine, remaining to his own principle in life, rejected Manicheism precisely because it could not offer answers to his questions in life. On another sphere of the book contains the grief of Augustine over the death of his friend. Here, Augustine uses the story from his life to explain what friendship is, by implication and what is not. In one of his experiences, he emphasized the importance of a friend in the following passages: “Behold, my heart, my God, behold what is within it! I marveled that other men should live, because he, whom I had loved as if he would never die, was dead. I marveled that I, his second self, should live when he was dead for I thought that my soul and his soul were but one soul in two bodies.” (Confessions, 4, 11-12) From this experience, Augustine began to learn that he must not place his ultimate happiness in any human being—but on God who does not change. The desires in life must ever be directed higher—to love all things in God is the only way to keep them but God’s love must be first. Hence, the book portrays carefully the faith of Augustine illustrating a very well basic Augustinian teaching that we can only find our way to life and eternal happiness through Christ, our divine Mediator. Book Five covers Augustine’s 28th year of his life at Rome and Milan. Augustine here depicts his escape from the Gnostic sect, the Manichees and his old dissolute companions by going to Rome, where he almost died of an illness. However, such time allowed him to win the position of Professorship of Rhetoric in Milan, the Imperial court and then met there the great bishop St. Ambrose. Also by this time, he was inspired by his readings of the Sacred Scriptures and by the wisdom of Ambrose of Milan whom he admired most because of his great oratorical skill. Augustine listened to Bishop Ambrose’s sermons, at first out of curiosity, but later, he was influenced by Bishop Ambrose’s words. Thus, this was to be a major step towards Augustine’s baptism along with his mother’s incessant prayers encouraged his conversion by Bishop Ambrose in 387 AD. As he later wrote, “I came to Milan… and to Ambrose, its bishop—a catechumen loosely attached to the Church.” (Confessions, 5, 13-23) Indeed, such was the time of his life that he was being drawn to the faith in Christ and signs up as a catechumen although he still lived in an immortal kind of life. As he later wrote, “I determined therefore so long to be a catechumen of the Catholic Church, to which I had been commended by my parents, till something certain should dawn upon me, whither I might steer my course.” (Confessions, 5, 1425) Writing shortly after his meeting with St. Ambrose, Augustine puts his doctrine of our ascent
to God into this following prayer “Accept the sacrifices of my confessions from the hand that is my tongue, which you have formed and aroused to confess to your name… Heal my bones and let them say, ‘Lord, who is like you?’ No man who makes a confession to You teaches You what takes place within him, for a closed heart does not close out our eyes, nor does man’s hardness turn back your hand. You loose it when you will, either in mercy or in vengeance and there is no one that can hide himself from Your heart. Let my soul praise You, so that it may love You and let it confess Your mercies before You, so that it may praise You.” (Confessions, 5, 1) Book Six illustrates the central part of the whole work of wherein Augustine was 29 years old. Herein, Augustine contemplates the events that led him to his new life. Much has been selected, edited and rearranged to make this picture. The description Augustine gives of these crucial events in his life is meant to be theologically and spiritually accurate, arranged according to principles other than those of strict chronology. With that caution I mind, the pattern an truth of these books becomes evident. In this book, Augustine comes to Milan with his mother and his mistress, his mind constantly searching for God. He listened to Bishop Ambrose and begins to appreciate both the Catholic faith and the vanity of world affairs. By this time then, Augustine was forced to send his mistress of fifteen years back to Africa, but he cannot remain chaste until his planned marriage. Hence in these years of struggle in life, he prayed to God saying “Praise be to You, glory to You, o fountain of mercies! I was becoming more wretched, miserable and broken-hearted and you drew closer to me…” (Confessions, 6, 15-16) Book Seven and Eight narrates or seems to narrate about the stylized division of Augustine’s conversion. Accordingly, this is the most studied part of the book. It is adhered that Book VII is his intellectual conversion while Book Eight is his moral conversion. Book Seven has been important in Augustine’s life for as he recounted it, it was his decisive encounter with the thought and belief of Platonism. By this time, he confidently believed many Neoplatonic doctrines to be constant with Christian teachings. In this book, Augustine describes a number of weighty and substantial issues that come to his mind as he prepares for conversion. Problems such as the origin and nature of evil, free will and the nature of God preoccupy the mind of Augustine in his time. Hence, all the more of these beliefs, he also realized the absolute need fro Christ moved by the humility of Christ and His promise to lead on the way. Only Christ could bring him salvation. The bottom line is that it is the new pilgrim way towards the life of Christ. As later wrote: “So it was with the most intense desire that I seized upon the sacred writings of Your spirit, especially the Apostle Paul…” (Confesions, 7, 21-27) Book Eight dealing with Augustine’ moral conversion is the climax of the work. Almost every pictorial cycle of his writings throughout the history of his life contains a depiction of the conversion in the Milanese garden. In this book contains also the most powerful account of a Christian conversion since the New Testament description of the conversion of St. Paul. By this period, he received a divine admonition. In a technical sense, Augustine reads the Sacred Scripture, most especially, Paul’s letter to the Romans saying “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in concupiscence.” (Romans 13:13-14) His mother,
however, rejoiced with triumphant exultation knowing the fact that Augustine was already converted. Thus the book therefore is true and real conversion took place in Augustine’s life. At this point, there can be no doubt as he later quoted a masterpiece containing a description of profound spiritual statement: “Lord, hear my prayer… that I should fund more delight in You that in all the temptations that one distracted me, that I should love You more intensely and hold on to Your Hand with all my heart, strength and that I can be delivered from evil to the end of my days… for You converted me to Yourself so that I no longer sought a wife nor any of this world’s promises, but stood upon the same rule of faith in which You had shown me to my mother so many years before… Thus You converted me and changed me… A Joy far richer than to wish, a joy much dearer and purer that I had thought to find out…” (Confessions, 8, 11-12) Book Nine records the period immediately after Augustine’s conversion until the death of his mother in late 387 AD. The apex of this book is about the vision at Ostia. By this period, he and his mother Monica share a deeply contemplative experience at Ostia. He does make use of this experience to illustrate the individual ascent to God, the focus of everyone’s heart and mind. His most important teaching, namely, that we will rise from the beauty of the senses and the splendor of the mind to the contemplation of God is powerfully illustrated by this experience: “When the day was approaching on which she was depart this life—a day that you knew though we did not—it came abut, as I believe by Your secret arrangement… There at Ostia on the Tiber we talked together, she and I alone, in deep joy: and forgetting the things that were behind and looking forward to those that were before, we were discussing the presence of Truth, which you are.” (Confessions, 9, 10) Indeed, such beautiful experience of mother and son in the garden of Ostia had brought to this point, that any pleasure whatsoever of the bodily senses, in any brightness whatsoever of corporeal light, seemed to them not worthy of comparison with the pleasure of Eternal light and Truth, that is God. Augustine in his part was overwhelmed with grief but is also filled with hope. Such above-passage gives no only his loving thoughts of his mother but also a picture of the attitude of a devout Christian towards those who had died in Christ. That is why in the last part of the book, Augustine wrote a prayer for his beloved parents: “Now that my heart is healed, in which there was perhaps too much of earthly affection, I pour forth to You, O our God, tears of a very different sort for Your handmaid—tears that flow for a spirit shaken by the thought of the perils there are for every soul that dies… So let her rest in peace, together with her husband, for she had no others before nor after him, but served him, in patience bringing forth fruit for Thee, and winning him likewise for Thee. And inspire, O Lord, my God, inspire Thy servants, my brethren… that as many of them as read this may remember at Thy altar Thy servant Monica, with Patricius, her husband, by whose bodies Thou didst bring me into this life, though how I know not.” (Confessions, 9, 13) Book Ten provides a literary transition from the first nine books to the last three books. Augustine’s autobiographical writing ends with this book. It has a meaning in itself. Besides, Augustine here confesses his present mind. If the Confessions as a whole work may be described as an ascent to the mind of God, then Book Ten is the microcosm of the whole work. In this book, Augustine shows that by means of intellect, senses and the ascent of faith in Christ Jesus he has been enabled to pray to the true and real God. That is why he begins this book by joyfully praying and hoping to God by these words: “I shall know You, my Knower, I shall know You, even as I am known, Power of my soul, enter into it and fit it for Yourself so that
You may have it and hold it ‘without spot or wrinkle.’ This is my hope. Therefore I speak out and pray and in this hope, I rejoice when I rejoice in a wholesome day.” (Confessions, 10, 1) By this, Augustine has a great statement of faith towards God. He realized that God has given him faith and even love. He evidently felt that this love as a positive concept for all Christians is the focal point of life. He held, “Your love Lord, pierced our heart like an arrow, and we bore within us Your words, transfixing our innermost being.” (Confessions, 10, 1, 2) After a short introduction, Augustine ascended from the material creation to the self. He distinguished the human self by an acute, but lengthy analysis of memory in its search for happiness in God. He wrote: “Great is the power of memory, exceeding great it is, O God, an inner chamber, vast and unbounded! A profound and immeasurable multiplicity; and this thing is my mind, this thing is am I, What then am I, O my God? What nature am I?” (Confessions, 10, 8, 15) Thus, he then described his life and temptations as bishop by the use of triple concupiscence—his mind, will and intellect. Within these pages of the book contained the famous prayer and song: “Late have I loved Thee, O beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved Thee! For behold Thou were within me, and I outside; and I sought Thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that Thou hast made. Thou were with me and I was not with Thee. I kept from Thee by those things, yet had they not been in Thee, they would not have been at all.” (Confessions, 10, 27) the following prayer-poem may be said to put in a nutshell the rest of the life of St. Augustine, his years of struggle, labors and sufferings as bishop. Never did he lose sight of the fact that he had been lost and found again by God. Never did he rely on his own strength of virtue. And, as a result, never did he run away from what God commands and gives us strength to do. The book concludes with a soteriology of Jesus Christ as a true mediator between human beings and God. Likewise, at the time, he was passionately devoted to Christ, and so he stayed in the world as a minister of the Gospel and sacraments, as a priest and bishop, to befriend all who seek for Christ. He was fulfilled to say these words in the last part of the book: “But the true mediator, whom in your secret mercy you have shown to be humble, whom you have sent to them, that by his example they also might learn humility, that mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus…” (Confessions, 10, 43, 68) Book Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen takes account in the Bible, practically on exegesis, principally an allegorical in nature that of Genesis 1:1-31. Truly, Augustine noted out in these three books the apex of the ascent to god insofar as human being can know him in this life. Since, the ascents of Book Seven and Nine ended in fleeting or partial vision. These three books, however, contained human knowledge of God by means of the treatments of time and eternity (the distention of the soul), creation, the Trinity, the various meanings, interpretations and discussion of biblical texts, and love as the weight of the soul by which the soul finds it place in the universe of God. Henceforth, the last three books are thus an emblem of all scriptural study, since they treat in detail a passage of scripture that stands for the whole works. Book Eleven highlights a new view of the divine present. Augustine now sees himself standing in time, facing the eternal divinity. As he empathetically wrote it: “Lord, since eternity is yours, are you ignorant of what I say to you, or do you see only at a certain time what is done in time?” (Confessions, 11, 1-1) At the end of his journey through memory in the praise of God, Augustine in this particular book finds himself left with the scriptural text itself from the Bible,
the visible form of the divine revelation, through which to perform his sacrifice of praise and prayer. Augustine prayed: “O Lord my God, be attentive to my prayers, and in your mercy graciously here my desire, for it burns not for me alone but desires to be for the use of fraternal charity.” (Confessions, 11, 2-3) Because for Augustine by means of the Word of God inspires quest and praise to begin, and the fullness of that quest in this life is a return to the words of God in scripture. In this book, Augustine discusses about the core of Christian doctrine that contained in the first line of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth, and in the spirit of God was over the waters.” The fathers saw allusion here to all three persons of the Trinity. The words “in the beginning” are the same as those that begin John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word,” which all Christians took to denote the second person of the Trinity. Since even Augustine would know that the Greek version of the phrase could indicate not merely circumstance but even instrument (“by means of the beginning”), it was easy to assume that the deeper sense of the opening line revealed the three persons of the Trinity were actively and aggressively present in the act of creation from the outset. Within the book Augustine denotes time as inherent in the created intellect, a category for describing the apparent transience and impermanence of reality. Time is not even a created thing for it is a creation of created things. He said: “It is in you, O my mind that I measure my time. Do not interrupt me by crying that time is. Do not interrupt yourself with the noisy mobs of your prejudices. It is in you, I say, that measure tracts of time…” (Confessions, 11, 27-36) Intelligent created beings see the world around themselves in a framework of their own invention, which they call time. This characteristic distinguishes their experience from that of their creator. God as creator sees all things simultaneously in a single vision, perceiving process and change but, freed of experiencing those things in temporal succession, he does not experience time. The creator lives outside created things and therefore, a fortiori, outside time. Time cannot be, Augustine concludes, without created being. This book, therefore, seems to deal with the fact of creation in the scriptural text and the problem of time as theological impediments. But these two tasks are one and the same. The book is thus devoted to the question of creation itself, looking at all times to the first person of the Trinity, God, the Father of all things, eternal being who creates all contingent, temporal being. In short, Book Eleven therefore is called the book of creation Book 12 entails Augustine’s exploration of the form and matter. In this he couched: “Assuredly, this earth was invisible and without order, and there was I know not what profound abyss, upon which there was no light, because there was no form in it. Whence you commanded it to be written that ‘darkness was upon the deep…’ Yet, all these Lord, was not absolutely nothing: there was a certain formlessness devoid of any specific character.” (Confessions, 12, 3, 3) By this book, therefore, is by contrast the book of God’s words, that is, of scripture, that is, of knowledge—for all authentic knowledge comes from the divine revelation. The formal pretext for the discussion of this book is the distinction between heaven and earth, which Augustine takes allegorically to represent the difference between spirit and matter—between things as they are and things as they seem. God’s knowledge, manifested to us, reveals this distinction. Otherwise we would be caught forever in the world of appearances. He supposed: “Wondrous is
the depth of Thy words! Whose surface, behold is before us, inviting the little ones. Yet are they a wondrous depth, O my God, a wondrous depth! It is awful to look therein, an awfulness of honor and a trembling of love.” (Confessions, 12, 14-17) Revelation then is ambivalent and multi-leveled thus, the enrichment of human knowledge is a constant shift from the surface knowledge to inner knowledge, from letter to spirit, from material appearances to spiritual, inner reality. Just as Book Eleven contained a long exploration of the problem of time itself, with full consideration of objections and alternatives, so too the matter of Book Twelve is elucidated in an imagined debate with those who would argue with the Christian interpretation of scripture: “With these would I now parley a little in Thy presence, O my God, who grant all these things to be true, with Thy truth whispers unto my soul. For those who deny these things, let them bark and deafen themselves as much as they please. I will essay to persuade them to quiet, and to open in them a way for Thy word. But if they refuse, and repel me, I beseech, O my God, be not Thou silent to me.” (Confessions, 12, 16-23) The book per se matters that, for Augustine, he recognizes the will of God that makes all things possible to happen. God’s continuing providence and administering designs is what determines events. Hence, all creatures in this world are valid provided that they do not depart from the apostolic rule of faith given by God—the source of everything. As a result, for Augustine, if there are irrationality and meaninglessness in life, they are placed there by God’s divine providence to a signboard for the deeper meaning of life. Book Thirteen brings light in Augustine’s mind for the final explanation of the creation of the world. On the track of the book he held saying: “I call upon You, my God, my Mercy, who made me, and did not forget me, although I forgot You. I call You in my soul, which you prepare to accept You by the longing that You breathe into it…” (Confessions, 13, 1-1) By this, Augustine characterizes that all of creation depends on God’s love and goodness, and God chose to create because of the abundance of his goodness for us all. Moreover, the book brings about the goodness of god explained in the creation of things and the Trinity as found in one of the verses of Genesis; “The Spirit over the waters.” Here, as human beings, knowledge, and will is but a part of one person, so the Holy Trinity has those qualities but is one upon God. Besides, Augustine’s allegorical explanation of the story of creation or concerning the origin of the world can be applied to those things, which God works for sanctified and blessed men. In other words, the book all in all interprets, examines and scrutinizes the rest of the Genesis creation story. In this book, Augustine would never have wanted the verse to be anything other than prayer and confession for anyone. By leading in the last books to the abstract and difficult discussion of the Trinity and its image in man, he makes it possible for every reader to duplicate the process through which he has gone, to go through that process for himself. The very difficulty of the verse frustrates logical detachment and hastens the reader along. As a result, read in this way, the book is no longer Augustine’s book, but our own book. Thus the creature in the image and likeness of God whom we learn to know from the last book is no longer Augustine, but ourselves, creatures like Augustine Finally, the book ends up by imploring and beseeching the eternal rest of human life from God. Our peregrinatio, or our journey in life, therefore, is always a constant, a continuous hoping and praying to rest in the great blessing of God, the author of human life. Thus God is
good in need of no other good and by Him we can find our eternal rest: “Therefore, we see these things which you have made, because they exist, but they exist because you see them. We see outside ourselves that they are, and within that they are good. But you saw them as already made, there where you saw them as to be made. At one time we have been moved to do good, after our heart conceived this out of your Spirit, whereas at a former time, having forsaken you, we were moved to do evil. But you, O one God, have never ceased to do well. There are certain works of ours, done indeed out of your gift, but they are not eternal. After such things, we hope to find rest in your great sanctification. But you, the Good, needful of no good are forever at rest, for your rest is yourself…” (Confessions, 13, 38-53) ***
The Confessions, then, present to each and every one of us a book about God, and about Augustine: more Augustine at the beginning, and more God at the end. It is the use of Augustine‘s life and confession of sin, praise and most especially of faith in God as an illustration of the theory of man. Thus Augustine does no disappear in this work. Properly speaking, Augustine is redeemed, and insofar as he is redeemed and reformed according to the image and likeness of God, he becomes representative of all humankind. In every way, therefore, the work is both and act of confession, and at the same time a model and pattern for other acts of confession, by Augustine and by us all, at other times and places.
Reference Augustine. The Confessions. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by John K. Ryan. New York: Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc., 1960.
Synopsis One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Randle Patrick McMurphy, a criminal serving a short sentence on a prison farm for statutory rape, is transferred to a mental institution that is anti-authoritarian with a history of violence, but he exhibits no sign of mental illness and also, pretending to be mad in prison. Part of the beginning of the story starts when Nurse Ratched, was employing a group therapy for mentally challenged patients. McMurphy observed that almost all of the patients are afraid of Nurse Ratched. McMurphy befriended other patients. They are Billy Bibbit, a nervous stuttering young man; Charles Cheswick, a man disposed to childish fits of temper; Martini, who is delusional; Dale Harding, a high-strung, well educated patient; and “Chief” Bromdem, a silent and mostly ignored patient but is respected because of his size, at which McMurphy marvels at first sights, were among the patients he came to know. On the ward, McMurphy is having fun playing cards with other patients, acting as dealer and humorously narrating and entertaining them while gambling with cigarettes and basketball with his fellow inmates but the head nurse is after him at every turn. He also makes a show by betting with the other patients that he can escape by lifting the hydrotherapy console and stealing a school bus bringing along with him the party girl Candy. Later, McMurphy, the Chief and Charles Cheswick were detained for fighting with the other lies following one of Ratched’s group humiliation sessions. Cheswick undergoes ECT while McMurphy offers the Chief a piece of juicy fruit gum. The Chief says thank you and this shocked McMurphy for the Chief hasn’t talked to anyone for a long time. After the ECT, McMurphy shiftly walks back to the ward feigning catatonia, before humorous by animating his face and loudly greeting his fellow patients, assuring everyone that the ECT was unsuccessful as an attempt to subdue him. That night, McMurphy sneaks into the nurse’s station and calls Candy and another lady friend. They went to a party and Billy flirts with Candy. At the end of the night, McMurphy and the Chief decided to escape and leave with the girls by climbing through the window but Billy however refused for he still wants to date Candy. McMurphy then left. Billy slept with Candy after a night of drinking. The next morning, Nurse Ratched arrives and discovers the scene. She ordered the attendants to clean the patients and conduct a head count. Billy was found undressed with Candy and was applauded by the other patients as a result. This is also the time when Billy kills himself by slitting his throat because Nurse Ratched threatened him that she will tell his mother what he has done and Billy panicked and his stutter returned. McMurphy, enraged by what Nurse Ratched has done, almost killed her by choking her if not for the male attendants that knocked him out. Nurse Ratched gasped for breath and is coughing on the floor. After some time, the patients in the ward returned back to their normal state and is playing cards and betting cigarettes but without McMurphy. Nurse Ratched, still recovering from
her neck injury sustained from her encounter with McMurphy, is forced to use a microphone in the nurse’s station to be heard by her patients. Late that night, the Chief sees McMurphy being escorted back to his bed and he thought that McMurphy returned to so that they can escape together, which is now ready to do since he feels as big as a mountain. However, when the Chief looked closely at McMurphy’s unresponsive face, he was shocked to see that McMurphy received a lobotomy. Unwilling to let McMurphy to live in such a state or be seen this way by the other patients, the Chief smothers McMurphy. The Chief then carries McMurphy’s escape plan by lifting the old hydrotherapy console off the floor of the ward and hurling the massive fixture through the grated window, climbing through and running off the distance
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