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Analysis of the Confessions of St. Augustine

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Analysis of the Confessions of St. Augustine

In the Confessions, by Saint Augustine, Augustine addressed himself articulately and passionately to the persistent questions that stirred the minds and hearts of men since time began. The Confessions tells a story in the form of a long conversion with God. Through this conversion to Catholic Christianity, Augustine encounters many aspects of love. These forms of love help guide him towards an ultimate relationship with God. His restless heart finally finds peace and rest in God at the end of The Confessions. Augustine finds many ways in which he can find peace in God. He is genuinely sorry for having turned away from God, the source of peace and happiness. Augustine is extremely thankful for having been given the opportunity to live with God. Augustine uses love as his gate to God's grace. Throughout The Confessions, love and wisdom, the desire to love and be loved, and his love for his concubine, are all driving forces for Augustine's desire to find peace in God. The death of his friend upsets him deeply, but also allows him to pursue God to become a faithful Christian. Augustine often experiences darkness, blindness, and confusion while attempting to find rest in God, but he knows that when he eventually finds him his restless heart will be saved. Augustine started out in childhood with a restless heart because he had to live in two different worlds. These worlds consisted of that of his mother's religious faith, and the world of everything else. These two worlds confused and disturbed Augustine as a child. In his mother's world, talk consisted of Christ the Savior and about the mighty god who helps us especially to go to heaven. In the other world, talk was about achieving. It seems as if Augustine felt that if he were to live in both of these worlds, his life would turn out to be nothing. He believed he would not accomplish anything he would be remembered for. He became unhappy with the idea of his life amounting to nothing. This is why Augustine turned to love. He felt that love might help him have a direct purpose in life and would help him through his conversion. Love should not be that of evil. Saint Augustine searched for the answer of a question that asked if love reaches out hopelessly and harmfully, how can it turn around to be productive and wholesome to the human soul? Love became a necessity for all people. For Augustine, the answer to this question was love. The first love must be for the love of God in Augustine's mind. It must come before all other forms of love. Augustine states that, "The thought of you stirs him so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises you, because you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you" (I, 1). Augustine talks of many different forms of love. Another form that he talks about and demonstrates many times in The Confessions is the desire to love and to be loved. Augustine's relation to his mistress focuses on the problem of restless loves, while showing that Augustine had the desire to love and the desire to be loved. For one thing, he went to Carthage wanting to be in love. He evidently was not in Carthage long before he found his mistress. Many young men stayed with a woman until the time came to marry them back then. This is what Augustine did. He states that, "In those days I lived with a woman, not my lawful wedded wife but a mistress whom I had chosen for no special reason but that my restless passions had alighted on her. But she was the only one and I was faithful to her" (IV, 4). Wisdom itself meant that the one true order of the world is what makes everything stick together. Augustine later recognized this as God's truth and word, by which God had made all things. This wisdom came into the world as Christ. Augustine's conversion is clear in outline and was greatly influenced by different variations of love. From childhood he had loved the name of Christ and associated with his mother about this and about her love for him. Also, when he read Cicero it summoned him to embrace the truth and love the wisdom of knowing the truth. He later experienced renewed love for the church and for Catholic things from Ambrose. Once God had come to him in compelling love, his surrender to a new life simply replaced, if it did not completely abolish, the old tormented division. The death of a very close friend of Augustine's made him realize that all love should be rooted in God. All our love starts with God's seed, and over time, new branches of love will grow and flourish. Augustine's friend became critically ill with a fever. While he lay unconscious, his friend was baptized a Christian. Eventually, Augustine's friend passed away and Augustine felt extreme remorse and grief. Augustine reflected that all human love is destined to perish unless this love is grounded in the eternal God who never changes. While love exists for those individual souls

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