Augustine’s life as a young man was characterized by loose living and a search for answers to life’s basic
questions and for truth from the beginning and throughout his life. Although Augustine followed various
philosophers even towards moderate skepticism only to become disillusioned with their teachings, he always
marked a profound attraction to Christ which had been cultivated in him by his mother Saint Monica. He
even claimed that Christianity was an imposed faith and was not founded on reason. For nine years he was
associated with the Manicheanism, the religion of fashion at that time. Essentially, he argued that there are
two principles of all things, dualism, a principle of good and another of evil. The first has created spiritual
things and the second the material things. He was struggling to cope with his evil desires as far as human
development is concerned. However, he gradually became aware that Manicheanism was unable to provide
satisfactory answers to his inquisitive questions.
Although the Philosophy of Plato had showed him the existence of the Logos (Word) and had brought him
subsequently nearer to Christ only after “taking and reading” the letters of Saint Paul which revealed to him
the truth in the faith of the Catholic Church: “let us live honourably as in the day, not in reveling and
drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:13-14), that his pride of
being intellectually superior was melted into humility. Reason was never an aid to know God who is love.
Love is an experience which is beyond rationality. He confesses, “Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever
old and ever new. Thou hast burst my bonds asunder.” When Augustine “took and read” the scripture he
understood that that Word was addressed to him. Consequently the word has dissolved the shadows of doubt
and he finally found himself free to give himself completely to Christ. The interior struggle of Augustine can
be seen in his autobiography, The Confessions, on which Pope Benedict XVI comments that Augustine’s
conversion was neither instantaneous nor complete from the beginning, but can be better defined as an
authentic journey, that became a model for each one of us. The path of Augustine’s conversion humbly
continued until the end of his life. Augustine believed that to know love by means of the mind unites the soul
in centering its love towards the eternal love of God. The discovery of faith in Christ made him understand
that God, who was seemingly so far, in reality, He was not. Only a God who has made Himself tangible, one
like us, was finally a God to whom one can pray, for whom and with whom one could live.
Soliloquies of Augustine defines what love is: “What is not loved in its own right is not loved.” This
statement describes the purity of love for itself not egotistical in its selfishness but altruistic in its
unselfishness. In love there are two discerning factors to consider dependent upon the object pursued. There
is the object of material love, which is transitory, and the object of eternal love, which is enduring. In regard
to these two loves, Augustine remarks that it is the object of love that affects its lover with something of itself
(cf. Different Questions 33). Augustine describes the evil encountered in the object of material love as
attempting to either eliminate or protect oneself from all impediments (cf. On Free Will 1.4.10). Such
behaviour frequently involves domination or removal of those who may pose a threat to the security of their
material enjoyment. The social consequence of such behaviour inevitably sets one person against another.
The social ills (corruption, consumerism, indifference) of contemporary society, and our human history,
demonstrate the negative consequences of such behaviour.
St. Augustine’s life is still a strong witness for youth in the search for truth today amid life’s distractions.
Many youth are in need of this ideal because they live at a very low level influenced by uncontrolled
entertainments/enjoyments/genietinge. St. Augustine always sought to fly above searching passionately for
the truth until it brought him to the arms of God. Do likewise.