Posted by: mattcolvin | July 22, 2013

That Cad, Augustine


Rebecca West remarks:

It has always interested me to know what happens after the great moments in history to the women associated by natural ties to the actors. I would like to know what St. Monica had to do after her son, St. Augustine, heard the child in the garden say, “Tolle lege tolle lege,” and was converted to Christianity; how she treated with the family of the little heiress whom St. Augustine was then obliged to jilt, how she dismissed the concubine with whom he had been passing the difficult time of his engagement…

I have always believed that Augustine should not have become a bishop, and certainly not a monk. He testifies himself that he had not the gift of continence, that even in his episcopacy, he was assailed by lustful thoughts and imaginings. Vows of chastity were sin for him. And even if he had been blessed with that charism, he was not free to make such vows: it was sin to break his engagement, and worse sin to cast off the woman on whom he sired a son, and with whom he lived in implicit marriage for thirteen years. This was a man who was objectively, outwardly, audibly called – by his own hormones, by his situation, by God, and by the desperate cries of the common-law wife he abandoned, whose name he has wrongfully effaced from history — called to be a father and husband. He rejected that calling. A pity, for his eloquence might have produced such a literature of the Christian family as to stem the tide of clerical celibacy that was already on its way to overspreading Christendom. Such a literature would not appear until after the Protestant Reformation.


Responses

  1. Amen.

  2. […] as Matthew Colvin rightly points out, “St” Augustine sinned when he broke off his engagement with the woman who sired his […]


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