Augustine was born in Tagaste, in North Africa, in the year 354. He received a Christian education thanks to Monica, his devout mother, but left the faith as a young adult. In Italy, he studied philosophy and rhetoric, and at one time joined the Manichean sect. At the age of 33, he converted to Christianity, drawn back to the faith by the preaching of St. Ambrose, then bishop of Milan.
Augustine’s education in philosophy served him well as a priest and bishop (of Hippo, in North Africa). He remains one of the most prolific writers of the Catholic Church; his works include sermons (of which more than 400 survive), refutations of heresies, his Confessions and theological masterpieces such as City of God, On the Holy Trinity, and The Enchiridion. Although the Order of St. Augustine was not founded until 1244, he also wrote a rule prescribing a way of life for men and women who desire to live in a religious community. This guide is now known as the Rule of St. Augustine. Augustine died in 430 in Hippo.
Justice and Peace
Augustinian friars, sisters, and their lay associates work with the poor, the hungry, the uneducated, refugees, and others in need. Their efforts are inspired and encouraged by St. Augustine’s many writings and sermons on justice, peace, poverty and wealth.
“You give bread to a hungry person; but it would be better were no one hungry, and you could give it to no one. You clothe a naked person. Would that all were clothed and necessity did not exist.” –Homily on 1 John, 8.8
“Let the hungry Christ receive what the fasting Christian receives less of. Let the self-denial of one who undertakes it willingly become the support of the one who has nothing. Let the voluntary want of the person who has plenty become the needed plenty of the person in want.” –Sermon 210
“Take stock then: not only can you manage on a few things only, but God himself asks very few from you. Ask yourself how much he has given you and then pick out what you need; all the rest of your things lie there as superfluities, but for other people they are necessities. The superfluity of the rich is necessary to the poor. If you hold onto superfluous items, then, you are keeping what belongs to someone else.” –Exposition of Psalm 147, 13
“We have brought nothing with us when we were born. You came in the world and you found a table well prepared. For Earth and all that it contains belong to the Lord. …God has given the world both to the poor and to the rich.” –Sermon 39
A person is “just when he seeks to use things only for the end for which God appointed them, and to enjoy God as the end of all, while he enjoys himself and his friend in God and for God.” –City of God 15:22
“(God)gave you both this life as a single road to travel along. You have found yourselves companions, walking along the same road; he’s carrying nothing, you have an excessive load; he’s carrying nothing with him, you are carrying more with you than you need. You are overloaded: give him some of what you’ve got; at a stroke, you feed him and lessen your own load.” –Sermon 61, 10
“What about you? Do you hope to find something in your hands hereafter? Then do not disdain the poor man’s outstretched hand today. Take heed to empty hands, if you wish to find your own hands full. The Lord said, I was hungry, and you fed me; I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger, and you made me welcome, and so on. And the righteous will reply, When did we see you hungry, thirsty, or in need of shelter? His answer is plain, When you did that for even the least of those who are mine, you did it for Me.” –On Mt 25: 35, 38, 40
“When He bestows his kingdom, will His words then pertain to you: ‘What you did to one of the least of mine, you did it to me’? …He is truly in need, not in His Head, but in His members. Where is He in need? He suffered in His members when He said: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” –Sermon 239, 6