Remarkable Books of St. Augustine and his Death. Vol.5 No. 23

One of the most remarkable of his books is his confessions, a masterpiece of introspective biography, which he wrote shortly after becoming bishop. With marvelous literary artistry, he charts the labyrinthine ways of his own spirit, and in a fiercely honest scrutiny of his whole past life analyzes the motives behind his spiritual evolution. It is a book concerned so much with feeling rather than ideas. Two other great works of this period are De Genesis ad litteram, a vast commentary on the book of Genesis, and De Trinitate, which reveals his genius for speculation. His book, the city of God breathes the atmosphere of Gotterdamerung that pervaded the world as the Roman Empire began to crumble. On August 24, 410, Alaric, with his Grothic army, laid Rome to a terrible sack for three days. This disaster, without parallel in her history, left the Empire in a state of absolute shock.
Augustine, wondering whether the end of the Empire was not at hand, began the huge city of God, which took thirteen years to write. History, he claims, can only be understood through the biblical revelation that discloses it as continuing struggle between two cities, one made up of those who pursue only earthly goods and live under the curse of Adam (the city of Man). There is another city destined to last forever; which embraces all those souls who live only as pilgrims in the world and have placed their hopes only in God (the city of God). The dividing line between them is invisible because ultimately it has to do with each man’s commitment to final values. They are escartholigical realities that overlap in history and will only be separated from each other at end of time. The final contribution remarkably made Augustine was his intellectual fight against Pelagius, a theologian of genius, who came to Carthage (due to the sack of Rome) with his disciple Celestius, after spending some thirty years in Rome as a fashionable lecturer on religious and spiritual matters. (we shall discuss this from next month when we shall discuss about grace and original sin).
Augustine, however live long enough to see the total collapse of Roman rule in Africa and the ruin of his diocese. It was in 429 and 430 that the vandals attacked, churches were burned, virgins and ascetics tortured and violated, bishops and clergy slaughtered, and his own city of Hippo packed to the walls with refugees. In the midst of all the turmoil and panic, Augustine fell ill with a fever he asked to be left completely alone so that he could pray, and after several days of agony, he died. He was buried on August 28, 430. A year later, Hippo was taken and sacked.

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