40 Days with St. Augustine

Augustine of Hippo
by Jose de Ribera, 1636

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) was one of the great teachers of the Christian church.  The class will introduce you to his abiding wisdom as you do one short devotional reading from his writings per day for the 40 days of Lent.  Each student needs to get a copy of “Early Will I Seek You: A 40-Day Journey in the Company of Augustine,” by David Hazard (available in a printed or digital version from the publisher’s web site or Amazon or your favorite bookseller).    The purpose of the book and class is “rekindling the inner fire,” as we, to use the words of Augustine himself, “set out on the street of love together making for Him of whom it is said, ‘Seek His face always.’”   Augustine is just as good a contemporary guide to that seeking as he was an ancient one.

The first class will set Augustine in his context of the late Fourth and early Fifth Century Roman Empire (See the slides for the Introduction class below). Augustine’s era was a time of monumental change, a time very different from, yet a “distant mirror” of, our own. Augustine, bishop, philosopher, and saint, was an astute observer of human psychology, of our virtues and of our depravities. His vision was of cosmic scope. How do human beings see themselves situated in our visible universe of space and time? Augustine bequeathed to Western civilization a sense of the forward movement of history and a sense of our restless selves ever thirsting for divine love: we are pilgrims on a journey. How should we live amongst the entangled ways of the City of God and City of Man? What is good, and why is there evil? How do we come to “see” God? How are we to order our desires rightly in the light of Christ–our love of things, our love of others, and our love of God? These questions are just as alive today as they were in Augustine’s era.

The title of our text comes from the opening verse of Psalm 63 from the King James’s Bible, here in the New KJV:

"O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water."

Please do each of the short readings from Augustine, one each day between Ash Wednesday and our last class in Holy Week. These readings selected by the author come from a variety of Augustine’s many writings. Savor the passages, reflect and meditate on them. Keep a journal if you like. Pray. Read them and re-read them. Let them sink in. Let them wash over you as cleansing waters for repentance, as refreshing waters of vision, as quenching waters for unfulfilled thirst, as the living waters of the Spirit, the Giver of Life.

Except for the first class, which will situate us in Augustine’s context, we will spend our time discussing these reading. I hope many of you will be willing to contribute your own thoughts, but you are welcome simply to listen if you prefer.

  • Readings for week of Feb. 17 – Feb. 23. Registered class members may comment or ask questions at this link (password required–class registrants have it).
  1. "What is scattered in me. . ."
  2. "Late have I loved you!"
  3. "Ascending" in the Heart
  4. "Ascending" in the Manner of Jesus
  5. That Your Soul May Live
  6. Living Among Those Who Dwell in Darkness
  7. "I approach food as I approach medicine"
  • Readings for week of Feb. 24 – March 2. Registered class members may comment or ask questions at this link (password required–class registrants have it).
  1. The Origin of Evil in Me
  2. "I will pass beyond the power of memory"
  3. "Going mad on my way to sanity"
  4. A Target for Evil
  5. Our Defense
  6. Beholding the Image of God in the Inner Man
  7. Remove the "Spear"; Then Heal the Wound
  • Readings for week of March 3 – March 9. Registered class members may comment or ask questions at this link (password required–class registrants have it).
  1. God "With Us"
  2. Resurrection faith
  3. Why Some "Perceive" God While Others Do Not
  4. Becoming Clean in Heart
  5. Jesus, Image of the Invisible God
  6. Integrity
  7. God "Appears" When the Time Is Best
  • Readings for week of March 10 – March 16
  1. The God Who Is Always Near
  2. The Path of Love
  3. Our Leader on All Life’s Pathways
  4. Living in the "Light" With Each Other
  5. Our Great Debt Is Forgiven
  6. Holy Spirit: Power of Love
  7. The "Hands and Feet" Of Love
  • Readings for week of March 17 – March 23
  1. Fire that Burns Also Brings Light
  2. Joy, the Promised Fruit
  3. Becoming a Wise Servant
  4. Our New Source of Life
  5. An "Upward" Destiny
  6. Four "Traps" of the Soul
  7. The Spirit Wars Against the Flesh
  • Readings for week of March 24 – March 30
  1. Vigilance Against Evil
  2. God Is at Work for Us
  3. The "Order" of Love
  4. Love Family First
  5. Peace, Rest and Joy for the Children of God

I intend to be adding more as time goes on.