This week, the Catholic Church celebrates the great feast of St. Augustine. Many of us are familiar with his first conversion story but we often forget his second conversion story. Today, Dr. Sri shares St.Augustine’s ongoing conversion and how we can learn from this saint’s complete reliance on God in his weakest moments.
Snippet from the Show
“It is not as though I do not suffer wounds , oh Lord, but I feel rather that you heal them over and over again”- St. Augustine
Many of us are familiar with the first conversion story of St. Augustine, the moment when he left his decadent life of pleasure, riches, influence, and power in pursuit of a life of holiness. St.Augustine had it all according to the standards of this world but his heart was restless until it finally rested in God and returned to his Catholic faith.
However, not many of us are familiar with his second conversion. His second conversion is very meaningful for living our everyday Catholic life and persevering in our struggles as disciples of Christ. In St. Augustine’s second conversion, he becomes aware of his own weakness, frailty and need of God’s ongoing grace and healing. Even after leaving his worldly pleasures and becoming a priest and bishop, St. Augustine realizes that he still struggles in many areas. He still found himself lured by the passions of the world, and struggled with sins such as lust, gluttony, comfort, pride, and vanity.
When St. Augustine returns to Carthage in North Africa and preaches to the people there, he said:
“Whoever thinks he can do it on his own, doesn’t understand himself or Him whom he seeks.”- St. Augstine
The Ascent to God vs. God’s Descent
St. Augustine’s second conversion reveals to us the mystery of God’s descent. When it comes to the spiritual life, many of us think of the ascent up to God- the process by which we become sanctified and transformed by the very life of God as we begin to follow Christ and leave our sinful habits behind. As we journey up to God, we start to become more like God. However, there is more to holiness that just our willpower and our efforts to carve away our weaknesses. The mystery of God’s descent is the reality of a God coming down to meet us in our utter weaknesses, frailty, and lowliness. This mystery came first and it is most beautifully revealed in the incarnation when God becomes man to save us from sin.
The mystery of God’s descent reminds us that we are in constant need of God’s mercy. Conversion is an ongoing process and we don’t become saints overnight by our own strength. Our souls are works in progress and we must rely on God completely as we continue to struggle with sin. It often takes many years for the Lord to heal us and help us break away from our sins and sinful tendencies. Our struggles are humbling because we realize that we constantly need God’s mercy, grace, strength, and courage. When we realize our own weaknesses, we can also be more patient and merciful with the weaknesses of others. Most importantly, we must allow God to meet us in our lowliness and heal the broken parts of hearts.
- Be patient with yourself, learn to rely on God.
- Become aware of your weakness, inner poverty, and frailty.
- Take your weakness to God and ask for his healing.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.
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