“You say, the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times. The times have never hurt anyone. Those who are hurt are human beings; those by whom they are hurt are also human beings. So, change human beings and the times will be changed.”

—St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 311, 8

Growing up on the northernmost edge of the African continent, young Augustine had never known a life without trouble and conflict. Whether between political factions within the Roman Empire, his pagan father and Catholic mother, or even divisions within the Church herself, Augustine’s world abounded with cultural, ideological, and spiritual contradictions. Then there were the battles that waged within—those between flesh and spirit, intellect and faith.

Choosing a path of self-indulgence, Augustine hurt the ones he loved the most: his pious mother, socially unacceptable lover, and out-of-wedlock son. Miserable and hollow, he sought and found a new life with Christ. His transformation forever changed the Church and his example continues to guide us through our own troubled, burdensome, and miserable times.

By Sharon Reiser & Ali A. Smith

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Read the first chapter here.