Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Benny Thomas, certainties, Christianity, coincidences, fable, finite life, Heretic, moral, paradoxes, St. Augustine, stories on July 3, 2012|
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St. Augustine And The Heretic.
Aurelius Augustinus of Tagaste, North Africa was won over from his dissolute ways when he and a friend of his were holidaying and they heard a neighbor child singing a refrain,’ Tolle Lige, Tolle Lige,”(Take up and read, Take up and read). He took it up as divine guidance and read from the book of Romans wherein St. Paul’s admonition,” make not provision for the flesh,” made a deep impact to win him over from his hedonistic way of life. At that moment his friend who also heard the child did not think it anything special.
That moment nevertheless was a turning point: one going on to become the father of medieval Roman Catholicism and the other, a heretic. When the latter was at the death- bed the saint went to see him. The heretic resisted a last minute conversion saying that while Aurelius found God whose grace was irresistible he found quite something else. When the venerable Bishop asked him to spell out what he meant he merely quoted his friend’s dictum:” In essentials, unity; in non- essentials, liberty and in all things charity.” When pressed further he said, ” Allow me to die as a heretic; we both were searching for the same- we both, so I believe, found what we searched for. Heresy or liberty? Neither you nor I have time to convince the other as to the opposite. So I shall not, either in this life or in any other.”
Time presses us to shape our belief-systems in the indistinct runoff of certainties and what seem coincidences. These also switch roles. Thus what seeemed a sure thing proves to be flash in the pan. History is replete with such paradoxes.
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Continued from my previous post ‘Is God Out There?’
Time is of a vast scale and beyond our clear understanding. Nevertheless we walk the line or mark time here on the earth. Why would we then correct ourselves of mistakes we perceive them as unworthy of us if it were not so? Anyone who has some measure of self-esteem and respect for one’s true worth will strive to live in an exemplary manner. ‘When can I do better nothing less would suffice’. Time for us on the earth is to take us a notch higher day after day in moral terms as well as in our knowledge . Our mortal nature recognizes truth of nature ; but it is in context of Truth. We have a physical body but we also have a soul-our essence: our soul is what we hold as Truth transcribed into human terms. Conscience is merely our recognition of it.
St. Augustine led a dissolute life and he changed when he was convicted of such a life unworthy of him. Why would he want to do that when time is distorted for all? Yes we are finite beings and time runs for us in such a manner we tend to be distracted by superficials than by what is of our essence. For St. Augustine such a realization came from a chance hearing of verses from the Scriptures. His mother’s prayers that he would have heard often and the maternal concern for his soul resonated at the appropriate time to effect a change of ways.
Such changes work for so many in so many ways. I shall illustrate in another post how Albert Schweitzer found his way out.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, St. Francis, Buddha and Gandhi for example learned to straighten out time from distorting their life’s work.
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