St. Augustine was born in Tagaste in modern Algeria on November 13, 354. This famous son of St. Monica spent many years in wicked living and in false beliefs. He was one of the most intelligent persons who ever lived. Augustine was brought up in a Christian atmosphere by his mother. Unfortunately, he became so proud and immoral that eventually he could not see or understand spiritual truths anymore. His mother Monica prayed daily for her son's conversion. The marvelous sermons of St. Ambrose made their impact too. Finally, Augustine became convinced that Christianity was the true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted after reading the life of St. Anthony of the Desert. We celebrate his feast on January 17. Augustine felt ashamed. "What are we doing?" he cried to his friend Alipius. "Unlearned people are taking heaven by force. Yet we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!"
Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine went into the garden and prayed, "How much longer, Lord? Why don't I put an end to my sinning now?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!" Thinking that God intended him to hear those words, he picked up the Bible and opened it. His eyes fell on St. Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 13. It was just what Augustine needed. Paul says to stop living immoral lives and to live in imitation of Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life.
He was baptized and ordained a priest and bishop. He was a famous Catholic writer and founder of the Augustinian order. He became one of the greatest saints who ever lived. On the wall of his room, he had the following sentence written in large letters: "Here we do not speak evil of anyone." St. Augustine overcame strong heresies, lived simply and supported the poor. He preached very often, and prayed with great fervor right up until his death. "Too late have I loved you," he once cried to God. But Augustine spent the rest of his life in loving God and leading others to love him, too.
Let us pray for conversion of hearts, that many souls will know the heart of Jesus.