St. Augustine: The Man Who Knew His Weakness

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


Shownotes

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.

Practical Takeaways

  1. Be patient with yourself, learn to rely on God.
  2. Become aware of your weakness, inner poverty, and frailty.
  3. Take your weakness to God and ask for his healing.

Feed Your Spiritual Life in Just 25 Minutes a Day

Join Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P. and Fr. Jacob Bertrand Janczyk, O.P. as they read and explain The Confessions of St. Augustine in Season 2 of Ascension’s podcast, Catholic Classics!

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Resources

  • Visit Dr. Sri’s website at https://edwardsri.com/ 
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  • As parishes plan for the fall, Ascension is pleased to offer our new and improved online bible study programs and sacramental preparation programs digitally to help you minister with flexibility. Go to ascensionpress.com to view all our offerings!



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.

62 Comments

  1. So enjoyed your show. I’m sending it to family members!

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  2. Thank you. I needed that

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  3. I remember years ago coming across St Augustine’s prayer “Thou was within Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,….” I never cried so hard. The words to his prayer could have easily been mine! I have never forgotten that moment. It was a long time before I could say this prayer without tears.

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  4. Thank you for enlightening me more on this great saint keep up the great work 🙏🙏

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  5. A very enlightening podcast. Thank you.

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  6. As members of Couples for Christ , we have household meetings and a lot of times I want a topic that would coincide with feast and this is perfect. A good reminder to acknowledge our weakness. Thank you Dr. Sri.

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  7. Thank you Dr Sri for you podcast on St. Augustine and his second conversion.
    Often I feel guilty by repeating the same sin over and over again and I beat myself up by saying I am not growing in Holiness or God must be so disappointed in me.
    How you expressed St Augustines conversion and that fact that he still feels the temptations (even though he is a bishop), gives me hope that I can still strive for the right path. To continually ask God for his forgiveness and keep trying to be Holy.
    Thanks Dr Sri for this affirmation and understanding.
    I am loving your insight.
    Please keep up the Great Works of God.
    Pier Scolieri (Ontario, Canada).

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  8. Thank you so much a reawakening about trust in the Lord Almighty at all times

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  9. Thanking you for a thought provoking podcast today. I am reassured that God is healing me over and over again as often become downhearted as the same old me surfaces.
    I was able to relate to your comments and apply them in my own life which is so important as it is the difference between knowing and knowing then doing.

    Reply
  10. I would like to respond to what I have heard today . This the first podcast I have listened to. I have been a ‘ born again Christian for over 22 years , I had a unique experience at a very low point in my life.
    Originally I was brought up Roman Catholic , and suffered great guilt and shame from things I had done in my life .
    I am now almost 77 years old and God has blessed me abundantly.
    I can identify with St. Augustine, I still don’t feel worthy.
    I returned to the R.C. Faith , felt directed by the Holy Spirit to receive the Priestly confession , the Eucharist , and pray the Rosary and most recently The Chaplet of the
    Devine Mercy.
    I am still struggling (not as often )with feelings of unworthiness.
    Thank you for your podcast.
    I do not feel so alone ,as I identify with not being patient with myself , catholic guilt has been so deeply instilled in me.
    I will bring my weaknesses before God , knowing He is Merciful and loves me unconditionally.
    I need to forgive myself.
    This is were I am stuck .
    Sincerely I thank you for your sharing.
    I live alone , and I feel vulnerable if I show my weaknesses before others. I want to be liked not pitied.
    I will take it to God, and trust in His healing Process.
    Once again thank you , I look forward to more of the same. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Excellent podcast, Dr. Sri.
    As a fairly recent (5 years ago this month) Christian, I can use all the help I can get to know Our Lord better, and I find you (and also Fr. Mike and Jeff Cavins) quite inspirational.
    Saints: I don’t relate particularly well to them, though I have a devotion to St Joseph, Mary Magdalen, and St. Francis. This podcast opened my mind a little more to St Augustine, so thank you.
    What draws me to Catholicism I can tell you in two words: The Eucharist. I experience for myself how receiving Holy Communion regularly is changing me, but I recognise a need to better under the whole celebration of the Mass, and so I’m now reading you book, A Biblical Walk through the Mass — great insights!
    Heartfelt thanks,
    Deirdre Arzheimer

    Reply
  12. Wonderful podcast! The sound of Prof. Sri’s reassuring voice, and his message somehow, hits home every time. I’ve participated in 2 of his Bible Studies in the past. I feel sincerely that he has helped me to deepen my faith, and will keep continuing my journey. God bless you!

    Reply

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