Legaspi: A sinner turned saint


AUGUST 28 is the feast of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and August 27 is the feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. In these two days, we are reminded of the maternal and filial love manifested by this mother-son tandem.

St. Augustine's early years were simply like that of any ordinary person. He enjoyed the world. He earned a hefty income from teaching. He joined popular organizations and even entered the dirty world of politics. He lived a life full of "life." He was just like any ordinary young man amidst materialism and secularism. At the backstage was his mother, and like most mothers with "basagulero children," would always dream of the conversion of their sons. So, St. Monica, a firm Christian believer, was one pious woman who devoted her life to prayer and praying for the conversion of her husband and son.

Some writers would describe St. Augustine's youth as sinful and materialistic. He was consumed by the demons and evils of his time. But, one wrote that we could not solely blame him (St. Augustine) for having lived a life like that. It was influenced by many external factors. He had to be "in" with his barkada. He has to follow his father's path, Patricius, for being a believer in Manichaeism. He had to immerse himself into the world to understand the ways of the world and men. In short, he was a famous star of his time.

Like all philosophers who embrace the truth, St. Augustine experienced the "night of the soul and the mind" and a great restlessness in his heart. He was searching for something he could not understand and comprehend. He searched for it from all the corners of his past and present, but to no avail. He tried to rationalize all the things that were happening. However, no amount of reason could enlighten what he was searching for. Until one day, he met St. Ambrose and listened to his arguments, and he was little by little convinced of the truth about Christianity. There he knew already what he was looking for. The restlessness in his heart started to calm down.

In the summer of 386, St. Augustine had a miraculous conversion. While outdoors one day, he heard children's voices singing, "Tolle lege! Tolle lege!" or "Take up and read! Take up and read!" He first dismissed the chant as some children's game but realized that this might be a call from God instead. This is the story of the great conversion of the saint. In fact, in the feasts of the Catholic Church, there are only two feasts of conversion, one is that of St. Paul, and the other is St. Augustine's. The Scriptures became his foundation for the search for truth. Internal Prayer became his weapon. He became a teacher and a defender of faith for the Catholic Church. In fact, with his fidelity to God and the Church, the great Saint was named Doctor of the Church.

St. Augustine is also known for his pedagogy. In this, he teaches that the teachers are pedagogues or “yayas and yayos." They must bring the student close to the master teacher – Jesus Christ. The pedagogue will also get the students back to their homes and let them live what they learned from school. Teachers are aides to parents.

So, as we celebrate the feasts of Sts. Augustine and St. Monica, let us all ponder and pray for the protection of families.

St. Augustine, Pray for us.


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