An Afternoon with Saint Augustine

July 10th, a Tuesday.

This day had been a hurricane of thoughts and ideas, thoughts of massive proportions and ideas of a distinct and sophisticated kind. The kind of thoughts that you wouldn’t find in common places in common parts of the world but in rare people who possess a kind of brilliance, a genius like no other, a mark of a great thinker. From the pile of my cluttered thoughts, I know I should start somewhere and with Saint Augustine of Hippo I shall begin.

With all honesty and as far as the basic details of Saint Augustine’s life is concerned, there is not much that I could speak of. But if there is something that connects me and pulls me close to Saint Augustine, it would be the fact that he was a Christian.

I have developed a strong reproach in all people and in all things ‘Christian’. This was after I’ve renounced my confidence in the Judeo-Christian morality a few months ago. And with Saint Augustine being one of the most widely-known figures in Medieval Philosophy, (alongside Saint Thomas Aquinas), it was plain and simple: a promising career on my unjustified abhorrence towards Saint Augustine was well on its way. 

I have to admit, I hate him. I hate his philosophy. I hate his idea of a city where a God who is all-omniscient and all-omnipotent resides and where all his angels fly in awe-inspiring beauty, like some kind of a make-believe fantasy. I hate every inch of his thoughts. I hate when I remember.

But who is this girl who scorns Saint Augustine to death? Well, I’d like to say that she is a true-blooded atheist by birth and blood who lived in her own little sphere where no gods and goddesses exist but ironically, she wasn’t. This girl was baptized a Christian at the age of 12 and was very active in the Christian ministry for years. She knew God the way little girls know their fathers; a relationship she cherished with her all throughout her growing years. She held the Bible with utmost faith and hoped for all of the promises in it. She bled for the book of Revelations as she patiently waited for the coming of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’. But the waiting wore off as the years went by and as life turned more difficult, more cruel.

Every day when I look in the mirror, I see myself lost, terrified. There is nothing left of that young spirited girl in me; no remains or traces of her innocence and sanity. She has been dead for years now and her demise was a self-constructed misfortune I’ve been trying to forget.

But today on Ethics class, as I patiently listened to the words of my most-adored Ethics professor, something in my heart was miraculuosly restored to life, awakened from the deadly slumber. Something in me sparked a light of hope and flashed a kaleidoscope of colors in my world of black and blue. Something in me was alive. For the first time in such a long time, I am alive.

Saint Augustine’s belief in a God who created the whole of mankind out of His great love and gave them the will to choose on their own served as a painful reminder of the things that I have once known and forgotten. I am grateful to Saint Augustine for making me remember at least a part of who I was and who I have been. To him I write this essay with most honor and gratitude.

When all is said and done, I look back to the memories of that young girl and realize both more and less. I stand in no position to say what one ought and should believe in. I claim no power to decide for others the way I decide for myself. I am still in a work in progress, in an uphill climb to get to the better view of things. The answers are yet to be constructed. The answers must be in the attempt.

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