Confessions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 21)

Confessions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 21)

Translated by VERNON J. BOURKE
Copyright Date: 1953
Pages: 514
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  • Book Info
    Confessions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 21)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1121-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xxxii)

    Throughout the Confessions it is evident that St. Augustine is addressing his words directly to God. As he himself says: ‘The thirteen books of my Confessions praise the just and good God, both on the basis of my good and of my evil deeds, and they elevate the human understanding and affections to Him.’¹ Thus, the Confessions is at once a profession of religious faith, a meditation on the wondrous workings of Providence, and a hymn of divine praise.²

    That Augustine had human readers in mind is also evident. He had left North Africa in 383, an adherent of the...

    • 1: Augustine’s Boyhood
      (pp. 3-32)

      Thou art great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised.’¹ ‘Thy power is great and of Thy wisdom there is no number.’² To praise Thee is the wish of man who is but a part of Thy creation, man who carries about with him his own mortality, who carries about the evidence of his sin and the evidence ‘that Thou resisteth the proud.’³ And yet, to praise Thee is the wish of man who is but a part of Thy creation. Thou dost bestir him so that he takes delight in praising Thee: for Thou hast made us for Thee...

    • 2: A Year of Idleness
      (pp. 33-48)

      I want to recall to mind my foul deeds of the past and the carnal corruptions of my soul—not because I love them, but in order that I may love Thee, O my God. I do this in the love of Thy love, mentally reviewing my nefarious ways in bitterness of personal recollection, so that Thou wilt bring sweetness to me, O Sweetness who are not false, O Sweetness happy and safe, who gatherest me in from the dispersion wherein I was divided and sundered, when I turned away from Thy Unity and wasted myself on the many.¹


    • 3: Life in Carthage
      (pp. 49-72)

      To Carthage I came, and a hissing cauldron¹ of shameful loves seethed around me on all sides. I was not in love, yet I loved to love and, in the hidden depths of unsated desire, I hated myself for my partial lack of desire. I sought some object that I might love, loving the very act of love; I hated peace of mind and a path unbeset by pitfalls.² For, though I was hungry within me with the lack of that inner food which is Thyself, my God, I experienced no longing as a result of that hunger. Rather, I...

    • 4: Nine Years a Manichaean
      (pp. 73-100)

      During this same period of nine years, from my nineteenth to my twenty-eighth year, we were led astray and we led [others] astray, deceived and deceiving¹ through a variety of passions; openly, through teachings which they call liberal; secretly,² through the false name of religion. In the former, we were proud; in the latter, superstitious; in all, vain. On the one hand, we were pursuers of the emptiness of popular glory, even of applause in the theatres, poetry contests, the competition for garlands of grass, the follies of stage shows, and the immoderation of lusts. On the other, desirous of...

    • 5: Teaching in Rome and Milan
      (pp. 101-128)

      Accept the sacrifice of my Confession as the offering of my tongue, which Thou hast formed and stimulated to confess unto Thy Name. Heal all my bones and let them say: Lord, who is like unto Thee?¹ Not that he who confesses to Thee teaches Thee anything of what goes on within him, for the heart that is closed does not shut out Thine eye nor does the hardness of human beings stay Thy hand. Rather, Thou dost soften it, when Thou desirest, either in compassion or in punishment. There is no one who can hide himself from Thy heat.²...

    • 6: Moral and Religious Indecision
      (pp. 129-160)

      Where wert Thou, ‘O My Hope from youth,’¹ and whither hadst Thou retired afar Off?² Hadst Thou not made me and distinguished me from the beasts of the earth, making me wiser than the fowls of the air?³ I was wandering about through the darkness and over slippery ways,⁴ seeking Thee outside⁵ myself, not finding the God of my heart.⁶ I had come to the depths of the sea.⁷ I lost confidence and was in despair of finding the truth.

      My mother, strong in her piety, had already come to me, following me over land and sea, safe in Thee...

    • 7: Through Philosophy to Christ
      (pp. 161-194)

      My evil and wicked adolescence was now dead and I was passing into manhood.¹ The more mature I grew in age, the more ugly did I grow in my vanity. For, I was unable to think of any substance except that kind which is customarily seen through these eyes. I did not think of Thee, O God, in terms of the shape of the human body, from the time that I began to hear something about wisdom (this I always avoided and it was a matter of joy for me to discover the same attitude in the faith of our...

    • 8: Struggles of Conversion
      (pp. 195-226)

      My God, may I recall and confess Thy mercies to me, in the act of giving thanks to Thee. Let my bones be bathed with Thy love and let them say: O Lord, ‘who is like to Thee?’¹ ‘Thou hast broken my bonds: I will sacrifice to Thee the sacrifice of praise.’² How Thou hast broken them I shall tell, and all men who worship Thee will say, when they hear these things: Blessed be the Lord in heaven and on earth; great and wonderful is His Name.³

      Thy words had clung tightly within the depths of my heart, and...

    • 9: Augustine’s Baptism; Monica’s Death
      (pp. 227-262)

      O Lord, ‘I am Thy servant: I am Thy servant and the son of Thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds; to Thee will I offer the sacrifice of praise.¹ May my heart praise Thee and my tongue, and all my bones say: ‘O Lord, who is like to Thee?’² Let them say it, and do Thou answer me and say to my soul: ‘I am Thy salvation.’³

      Who am I and what am I? What evil has there not been in my action; and, if not in my action, then in my speech; or, if not in my speech,...

    • 10: Searching for God in Memory
      (pp. 263-326)

      I shall know Thee,’ O Knower of mine, ‘I shall know Thee even as I have been known.’¹ Virtue of my soul, go deep into it and make it fit for Thee, that Thou mayset have and possess it ‘without spot or wrinkle.’² This is my hope and that is why I speak, and in this ‘hope I rejoice,’³ when my joy is sound. As for the other things of this life: the more tears they receive, the less are they deserving of tears; the less tears are shed over them, the more do they deserve tears. ‘For behold Thou...

    • 11: God and the Beginning of Time
      (pp. 327-366)

      Since eternity is Thine, O Lord, dost Thou not know what I am saying to Thee, or dost Thou see what is going on in time, in relation to time? Why, then, do I tell Thee the detailed story of so many things? Certainly, not for Thee to learn them through me, but to arouse my feeling of love toward Thee, and that of those who read these pages, so that we may all say: ‘Thou art great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised.’¹

      I have already said it,² and I shall say it again: in the love of...

    • 12: The Author of Heaven and Earth
      (pp. 367-406)

      In this poor life of mine, my heart, struck by the words of Thy Holy Scripture, is puzzling over many things, Lord. So, oftentimes, the poverty of human understanding is expressed in rich talk. For, inquiry talks more than discovery; petition is longer than the final concession; and busier is the hand that knocks than the hand that takes. We have the promise: who shall break it? ‘If God is for us, who is against US?’¹ ‘Ask and you shall receive:’² ‘Seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and...

    • 13: The First Seven Days
      (pp. 407-456)

      I invoke Thee,¹ O my God, my Mercy,² who hast made me—Thou didst not forget even when Thou wert forgotten. I invoke Thee into my soul, which Thou dost prepare to receive Thee through the desire that Thou inspirest into it.³ Do not abandon me as I invoke Thee now, Thou who didst come to my aid before⁴ I uttered any invocation, and who didst repeatedly instruct me by many sorts of calls, so that I might listen from afar off and be turned back, and call upon Thee as Thou wert calling me.

      Indeed, O Lord, Thou hast...

  5. INDEX
    (pp. 459-481)