Conversion of St. Augustine
April 24th is the anniversary of Saint Augustine's baptism.
Augustine's life as a young man was characterized by loose living and a search for answers to life's basic questions.
He would follow various philosophers, only to become disillusioned with their teachings. For nine years he was associated with the Manichean sect. But he gradually became aware that Manicheism was unable to provide satisfactory answers to his probing questions.
At this time, Augustine was teaching rhetoric in Milan. He initially went to the city to hear the preaching of Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. At first he went only to hear Ambrose's eloquent style of speaking, but the Bishop's preaching led Augustine to a new understanding of the Bible and the Christian Faith.
Some time in the year 386, Augustine was out on the town when he heard the voice of a child singing a song, the words of which were, "Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it." He thought at first that the song was related to some kind of children's game, but could not remember ever having heard such a song before.
Then, realizing that this song might be a command from God to open and read the Scriptures, he located a Bible, picked it up, opened it and read the first passage he saw. It was from the Letter of Paul to the Romans. Augustine read:
Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. -Romans 13: 13-14
Reading this scripture, Augustine felt as if his heart were flooded with light. He turned completely from his life of sin. He would go on to be Baptized by Ambrose during the Easter Vigil April 24, 387.
Later, reflecting on this experience, Augustine wrote his famous statement:
You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.