Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today’s readings
(Mass for the school children.)

“You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

This is one of the most famous lines from Saint Augustine’s writings. We celebrate his feast day today, and it is somewhat of a miracle that we celebrate his feast at all. He was the son of a Christian woman and a man who was a pagan, and a crabby pagan at that! His mother, Saint Monica, was persistent in prayer, and eventually her husband was converted to Christianity.

But Augustine, a young man now, had not converted. He lived a rather immoral life, and had come to follow a particular heresy known as Manicheanism, which took ideas from all kinds of different religions and put them all together. He was a very smart man, and became a professor in Milan, Italy. His mother followed him there from where they lived in Africa, and continued to pray for him.

Eventually Augustine came to know the man who would become known as Saint Ambrose, who was the bishop of Milan at the time. He learned a lot from Saint Ambrose, and was very taken by the way that he preached. Eventually through his preaching and Saint Monica’s prayers, Augustine was converted and was baptized at the Easter Vigil.

After that, Augustine and his mother returned to Africa, where he lived a quiet life for about three years. Then he heard the bishop of that area, Valerian, talk about the priest shortage, and the people of the area said “Let Augustine be our priest!” So he became a priest, and eventually became the bishop when Valerian died.

So when Augustine wrote that “our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” he knew what he was talking about. His life was a crazy mess until Saint Monica’s prayers were answered and he was baptized. Then the true purpose of Saint Augustine’s life was revealed, and he followed God’s call. God will call all of us to do something at some point in our life. It might take a while to figure out what that call is, but once we know, we absolutely will never be happy until we follow it.

Today, Jesus tells the story about the wise virgins who were ready for the wedding feast, and the unwise virgins who didn’t come prepared. This is a story that is really about looking to God for our happiness. If we are ready and we wait for the Lord to lead us in our lives, we will be able to come in and feast with him in the life to come. Just like Saint Augustine, if we calm ourselves down and hear the voice of the Lord calling us, we can know a peace and happiness that nothing else in life can ever give us.

“You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

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