Saturday, September 11, 2010

Essay on Augustine and His Rule

Essay on Augustine and His Rule

The great Augustine is viewed by many as a role model. He was a man with a troubled young life and hardships. Augustine gives hope to all people that think they are lost or pinned up against the wall. Augustine was able to stay strong and persevere over his young, troubled, and confused world. Augustine wrote many pieces of works such as Confessions, which is an autobiography of his life. In this book he discusses his troubled life, and the events that led him to convert to Christianity. Another piece of work that Augustine wrote was the “Rule of Augustine.” This rule was an eight chapter work that has guidelines and rules on how to live a religious life. These rules would lead people away from the once lived life that Augustine had. Rather the “Rule of Augustine” would lead people to a healthy, unified, and a complete Christian life.

Augustine is credited of being on the greatest theologians of Western Christianity. Augustine was born in Tagaste, on November 13 354 C.E. Augustine parents were Patricuis and Monica. His father belonged to an influential class and was said to be hot tempered. His father was originally a pagan until he quickly converted to Christianity before his death. His mother Monica was a devout Christian (Kiefer 1). Monica was said to be a loving, honorable, self sacrificing and capable woman. It was Augustine’s mother that had the vision of bringing up her son as a Christian. Augustine’s father was satisfied with the progress that his son was making in the class room so he sent Augustine to study in Carthage. It was in this city were Augustine was turned away from God.

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Augustine reached Carthage around the year 370. At first Augustine prayed but had no meaning behind it. It was in this city where Augustine was distracted and was faced with many temptations. One of the reasons for this was that the Carthage was still a half pagan society (Knight 2). They did not fully accept Christianity and its values. In Carthage, Augustine was proposed with many temptations. Augustine was faced with prostitution, gambling, fame, pride and drinking. Augustine spent a few years as a teenager running around in the streets of Carthage. Augustine took on a mistress. This mistress bore Augustine a baby boy. In the summer of 372 Adeodatus, Augustine’s child was brought in the world. It was said that the child had taken on the qualities and characteristics of the mother (Augustine 2). Augustine remained faithful to his wife up and until 385.

Although faced with distractions, pressure, and a child Augustine was seen as a good and honorable student. However, Augustine was not happy and satisfied with his existence. Something held Augustine back from adopting and embracing Christianity. Not knowing what to do with him self, Augustine began to look in other directions. Augustine soon quickly embraced a new belief called Manichaeism. Manichaeism was known as a dualistic religion (Knight 2). Its two main principles are good and evil. The aspects that attracted Augustine to this belief is the way that the Manicheans criticized the scriptures, especially the Old Testament, and that they held self chastity (Augustine 2). Augustine held to the Manichean belief for about nine years.

Augustine returned back to Carthage in 382 and his belief of Manichaeism halted. Yet something was still wrong with Augustine. He still was confused and did not know what to believe in. Not knowing what to do Augustine set out for Rome. Again not being satisfied, Augustine set out looking for the meaning of his life. It was until Augustine reached the city of Milan where he had really found what he was really looking for.

While staying at Milan, Augustine met a man by the name of Ambrose. Ambrose was the bishop of Milan. Augustine began to listen to Ambrose’s preaching. Later Augustine began to be a regular at Ambrose’s preaching’s and they both became friends. It was a good feeling for Augustine to have Ambrose as a friend because it was at this point of Augustine’s life where he felt that he was in the pits and he felt that there was no getting out (Kiefer 2). Augustine still was lost and he went through a three year struggle and once again began to look for new ideas and beliefs. It was the year 386 when something hit Augustine and he truly found his calling. Augustine was confronted by a man named Pontitianus. He told Augustine how great the Monastic life was and how he could benefit greatly from it.

The sign that hit Augustine to convert to Christianity was while he cried underneath a tree. Augustine’s mind was flowing with millions of thoughts and he could not take the emotional stress so he began to cry. From a distance he heard a boy scram the words “tolle lege” which stands for “take up and read.” Augustine found scriptures near by and began to indulge himself in them (Augustine 4). Augustine now knew that Christianity was now his calling.

Knowing that Christianity was the right fit for Augustine, he decided to receive the sacrament of baptism. To do this, Augustine asked his long time friend Ambrose to do the blessing for him. Now being converted Augustine began to read, pray, and write. Augustine was now a new man. This was a different Augustine from the past. Augustine realized that he wanted to be in a monastery so he went to the city of Hippo in Africa. Knowing the true meaning of his life, Augustine now wanted to share his thoughts and beliefs with everyone. Augustine began to convert and baptize people to Christianity. With his great works and deeds, Augustine soon became the bishop of Hippo.

Augustine’s conversion was one that took time and long years of moral and emotional strain. Augustine realized what he had done in his life was huge and he wanted others to realize that anyone who has hardships or any kinds of dilemmas in their lives can always turn to God. In doing this, Augustine wrote the Rule of Augustine.

The Rule of Augustine was written in the year 400. It was an eight chapter document that was a guide for a religious life. The piece of work gives a basis of how people who are seeking a religious life should act and what preparations they should do in order to reach the life that they desire. The first chapter is headed “Purpose and Basis of Common Life.” In this chapter Augustine stresses that everyone should be treated like a brother. No one should be selfish and one should act in a humble fashion. If the poor have trouble give them help, and that the wealthy should help others out and distribute their wealth. He stresses that everyone should live their lives with an open mind and heart and one should be able to accept anyone (Russell 1). The second chapter is called “Prayer.” Here Augustine says one should prayer in an appropriate and fashionable matter. The third chapter is labeled “Moderation and Self-Denial.” Here Augustine stresses that one should approach their behavior with moderation and with limits. He says one should not indulge in excess food and only let themselves eat during mealtime periods. People who are sick and receive help and aid, others should not be jealous that they are receiving aid, but rather they should be happy and grateful that they have good health (Russell 2). The fourth chapter “Safeguarding Chastity, and Fraternal Correction” Augustine talks about how people should carry their actions and behavior in the public. Here Augustine says that people should not act gaudy or do anything to attract attention to them selves, rather that they should carry themselves as humble individuals. When going out in groups of people should stay together and not do anything to bring offense to others. Augustine says that when a man sees a woman he should treat her with respect and not think of lust or anything offensive in respects to that woman. Also Augustine says if one sees another man looking at a woman inappropriately he should bring it to that person’s attention and try to correct their behavior (Russell 4). The fifth chapter is called “The Care of Community Goods and Treatment of the Sick.” Here Augustine talks about how any goods whether being clothes or food should be equally distributed amongst everyone in the community. Anything that is in the monastery will we shared amongst the brothers. If someone becomes ill, one should try to help them physically and if that’s not possible then one should reach out to god and say a prayer for that person. In chapter six “Asking for Pardon and Forgiving Offenses” Augustine says that the best way to stop a fight or quarrel is not to start one at all. It there is no quick solution to the problem, the problem should be then quickly solved as possible. If wrong is done to another individual then an apology is needed as quickly as possible as well. When you have done wrong you must think of what you had done wrong, and learn from it before asking God for forgiveness (Russell 6). The seventh chapter labeled “Governance and Obedience” Augustine states that God is the superior power and that he should be obeyed. When referring to God, he should be respected and treated with dignity. When someone has spoken out of line about God, they should refer to a priest and ask for forgiveness. The eighth and final chapter called “Observance of the Rule” is almost like a summary of what should be done to be lead to a religious life. It briefly states that god is forgiving and that he can look over the past. People learn from there mistakes and when they can look at themselves differently and they are ready to accept God then God will be ready to accept them.

Augustine is viewed as a role model to some. Living a troubled teenage life, one with problems and temptations like prostitution, gambling, drinking, pride, and fame, he was able overcome those obstacles and find his true meaning. It wasn’t an easy conversion but with time, patience, and friendship, especially Ambrose, Augustine was able to find himself. Augustine showed others that the mind and especially faith can help troubled people who do not know what they are looking for can always rely on God. From learning from his mistakes Augustine wrote the “Rule of Augustine.” This self written piece of work is a set of instruction or others call it a guideline on how to fix one’s life and what actions one must to do call for a spiritual or religious life. Augustine was able to base these rules from his past experience. Learning from his past, Augustine was able to make strong, close, knit instructions that would lead people away from the life that he had as a young troubled man.


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