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Confessions of St. Augustine

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Augustine's Confessions

Though we may not always realize it at the time, the Lord is always at work in the details of our lives. We are constantly being led and directed, guided and prompted to make certain decisions, or be in a particular place at a particular time--influencing later consequences, decisions and opportunities. There are two ways one can recognize the hand of the Lord in their lives: often, it's when looing back that we realize God's influence in the way events transpired, other times, we are able to identify His divine guidance during the moment we are receiving it. Either way we recognize it, this divine guidance is what directs our lives and shapes our character.

Saint Augustine's Confessions, an autobiographical sustained prayer to God, serves also as a personal reflection and recognition of God's divine guidance in his life. Augustine recognizes God's influence in making one of the most significant life-changing decisions of his life, moving from Carthage to Rome to teach, but not until a decade or two later. Augustine desired to go to Rome for various reasons: dislike of his students at Carthage, higher pay, honors, and a more peaceful and disciplined schooling environment in Rome. With these influences pressing upon his mind, and "friends who urged [him] on", he came to the decision to move (pg 83). Later reflecting on this time in his life he realizes that God "worked within [him] that [he] might be persuaded to go to Rome...to the end that [he] would change [his] residence on earth for the sake of [his] soul's salvation" (83). He now sees the hand of the Lord in the "goads at Carthage by which he [was] turned away," and the "allurements set before [him] by which [he] [was] drawn to Rome" (83-83). It was God's divine intervention by which he was guided and directed to Italy where he would meet St. Ambrose and be converted to the Catholic Church. Looking back Augustine declares, "Why I went from the one place and went to the other you knew, O God, but you did not reveal it to me" (84).

Later in his life, at the time of his total and complete conversion, Augustine recognizes God's divine guidance immediately, at the time he is receiving it. At war between his iniquities and his desires, in deep despair and reflection, Augustine is brought to weeping and ardent supplication to God. In the midst of his prayer he "heard from a nearby house, a voice like that of a boy or girl, chanting and repeating over and over, 'Take up and read. Take up and read.'" (165). "Instantly," he says, he "interpreted this solely as a command given to [him] by God to open the book and read the first chapter [he] should come upon" (165). Upon this divine guidance, he does so and is admonished by what he reads to leave his impurities, take on Christ's



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