St. Augustine’s conversion shows us that God’s grace is within everyone’s reach

December 15, 2021 • 5 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 288
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Another no less remarkable example is that of St. Augustine, who, in his “Confessions,” tells us that when he began to think seriously of leaving the world a thousand difficulties presented themselves to his mind.

On one side appeared the past pleasures of his life, saying:

Will you part from us for ever? Shall we no longer be your companions?

On the other he beheld virtue with a radiant countenance, accompanied by a multitude of persons of every state in life who had led pure lives, and a voice said to him:

Can you not do what so many others have done? Was their strength in themselves? Was it not God Who enabled them to do what they did? While you continue to rely upon yourself you must necessarily fall. Cast yourself without fear upon God; He will not abandon you.

In the midst of this struggle the Saint tells us that he began to weep bitterly, and, throwing himself upon the ground, he cried from the depth of his heart:

How long, O Lord! how long wilt Thou be angry? Remember not my past iniquities. How long shall I continue to repeat, To-morrow, to-morrow? Why not now? Why should not this very hour witness the end of my disorders? [Confessions L. viii. c. 11.]

No sooner had Augustine taken this resolution than his heart was changed, so that he ceased to feel the stings of the flesh or any affection for the pleasures of the world.

He was entirely freed from all the irregular desires wdiich formerly tormented him, and broke forth into thanksgiving for the liberty which had been restored to him:

O Lord! I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant and the son of Thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds. I will sacrifice to Thee a sacrifice of praise. [Ps. cxv.]

Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee. Let all my bones say: Who is like unto Thee, O Lord? Where was my free-will all these years, O Jesus, my Redeemer and Helper, that it did not return to Thee?

From what an abyss hast Thou suddenly drawn it, causing me to bend my neck to Thy sweet yoke and to take upon me the easy burden of Thy law?

How delighted I am with the absence of those pleasures which I formerly sought with so much eagerness! How I rejoice no longer to possess those follies which I formerly trembled to lose!

O Thou true and sovereign Good! Thou hast driven all false pleasures from my soul; Thou hast banished them and hast Thyself taken their place, O Joy exceeding all joy! O Beauty exceeding all beauty!" [Confessions L. ix.]

Behold the efficacy of grace! What, then, prevents you from imitating the example of these great Saints?

If you believe what I have related, and that the grace which wrought such a change in St. Augustine is at the disposal of all who earnestly seek it, what is there to prevent you from breaking your sinful bonds and embracing this Sovereign Good Who so solicitously calls you? Why do you prefer by a hell on earth to gain another hell hereafter, rather than by a paradise here to gain Heaven hereafter?

Be not discouraged. Put your trust in God, and resolutely enter the path of virtue. Have an unshaken confidence that you will meet Him there with open arms, to receive you as the father received his prodigal son. [St. Luke xv.]

Were a charlatan to assert that he could teach the art of changing copper into gold, how many would be eager to test his suggestion! God offers to teach us the art of changing earth into Heaven for our welfare, of converting us from flesh into spirit, from men into Angels, and how many there are who refuse to hear Him! Be not of their unhappy number.

Sooner or later you must acknowledge this truth, if not in this life, surely in the next. Think, therefore, of the confusion and anguish which on the day of judgment will overwhelm all those who will then have been condemned for abandoning the path of virtue.

Too late they will recognize how excellent is this path, and how far it exceeds that of sin, not only for the happiness it affords in this life, but for the security with which it leads us to eternal joy.

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