Me & Auggie Part 1: Conversion & High School
A little more personal story of me and Auggie, or better known as Saint Augustine of Hippo.
I think someone who wanted to know much more about my conversion had better read my Christology series that I wrote last year.
When I was in my senior year of high school, getting back into Church, it turned out most of my stoner friends were dropping out of school. I was quitting drugs and all the sleezy things that I was doing. I started going to the library and spending a couple hours a week reading ancient philosophy. I started with reading an overview text of Western Philosophy, and connected to Augustine.
I was also in my second year of Confirmation. I was one of the oldest kids to do it, because I was always afraid of being brainwashed, and I finally gave in, imagining I would not have gone through with it. Things were getting intense though, between me and God for the first time. I was in love, it was so scary.
So I would walk around high school holding a really neat hardbound, goldtrim philosophy text of Plato, Aristotle, and eventually Saint Augustine’s City of God (albiet an abridged version). No, I DID NOT start with the Confessions, and I think it was because City of God must have been a more intimidating, or daunting philosophical work, that I decided to jump in.
At that time, I was kind of odd. I had a lot of friends around campus, but I started losing them. I was challenging them on their womanizing, on the materialism. I was deeply disturbed by the overt individualism and relativism embedded in my generation, that felt so much more appealing because it absolved us from ever being required to have any moral courage whatsoever. Moreoever, I think I was craving a common narrative and set of values that was inherent to humanity, but also led us out of ourselves toward community. Most of all, I wished that God was not so easily and nonchallantly dismissed. I was making people nervous. So I basically never would hang out with the same group of people everyday, and would rotate.
Of course, considering how unchaste I had been, I understood some of their nervousness. If I could change, it indicted them. But God still had a lot of work to do in my heart. It was easy for me to do so externally, but internally I was yearning for me. Yet, here was this guy, this saint, Augustine, who apparently struggled with chastity, and God glorified him. That is what I needed to know was possible.
At the end of the year, I was becoming the biggest fan of Augustine. I had read half of that abridged addition, highlighting like a fiend. I took Augustine as my Confirmation Saint Name, and smiled with bittersweet satisfaction at the bishop as he called someone for once who wasn’t named Michael or Teresa.
Despite the climactic satisfaction in Sacrament, I had already been undergoing a trial since I had committed to our Lord earlier in the year. It was like, God wanted me to be a man, and was going to put me through some trials and tribulations to earn the rep. I graduated, and really felt compelled to leave everything of high school behind. There was no facebook or myspace, KIT meant was wrote our phone number in each other’s yearbook, and maybe call (we didn’t have text messaging). Most of the time we didn’t.
I had to stick with the plan, with the conviction, with the deep, abiding, and dangerously flaming love and passion that God illumined in my heart. It was mad, but most of all it was worth it.
If I were to sum it up, most of my connection to Augustine was third hand. It was like the moment in the Confessions where Augustine feels inspired hearing about the lives of the Saints, particularly Saint Antony. Augustine craved this for himself, and was inspired by it. Soon, my connection to Augustine would be so much more personal, as I would read the Confessions, and they would bring beauty to my brokenness.