By Tom Quiner
“If there was ever a man who could be said to have adored sex, it was Augustine.”
This quote comes to us from the always quotable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Sex is all the rage these days.
It’s in the news.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just revealed that sexually transmitted disease has reached epidemic levels with 110 million Americans having contracted a STD, about a third of the nation. This, by the way, comes in an era when “protected sex” has been heavily promoted.
Half of the new infections took place in our youth (15 to 24 year olds).
If anyone would understand this lust for, well, lust, it would be St. Augustine. As Archbishop Sheen said about this beloved Catholic saint:
He said that he never could distinguish between ‘serene affection and black lasciviousness.’ His youth he described as ‘the hellish voluptuousness of adolescence.’
We have a lot of our American youth enslaved by this same “hellish voluptuousness” today.
Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician who wrote “Your Kids Are At Risk,” detailed the consequences of promiscuity being promoted by Hollywood and the culture. Here is the quick overview, according to Dr. Meeker:
- 20 million Americans contract a new sexually transmitted infection every year in the US and about 50% are in kids and young adults.
- 1:5 people over age twelve tests positive for genital herpes
- 1:4 teens (all teens- not just those having sex) get a sexually transmitted infection every year
- HPV causes 99% of all cervical cancers and teen girls are more prone to getting cervical cancer if infected because of differences in their anatomy
- 40% all girls 14-18 y/o state that they have sex that they don’t want to have because they don’t want to let their boyfriends down
- According to a medical study released in Sept 2001, if we don’t dramatically change course (teach our kids to put the brakes on), by the year 2025 (how old will your grandchildren be?), 30 % of all men and 40% all women will test positive for genital herpes.
St. Augustine would totally understand the average American today, because he committed the very same sins that are so in vogue, including “concupiscence of the flesh,” renunciation of Christianity, and a lavish embrace of modernism (heresy).
Like many Americans, he cohabitated with his girl friend and fathered a child out of wedlock. He regularly cheated on her because of his lust for lust. He opposed the Church in the public forum using his considerable rhetorical gifts.
To rationalize his lustful nature, Augustine embraced a philosophy known as Manichæanism. Sheen explains it this way:
“The conflict between flesh and spirit in him was resolved by the heresy of Manichæanism because it enabled him to pursue a voluptuous life without ever being held accountable for it. He could say that the evil principle within him was so strong, so deep, and intense that the good principle could not operate.”
In other words, he embraced an attitude of “I can’t help myself.” This is the same attitude embraced by our culture regarding our youth when it comes to sex.
Augustine underwent a radical transformation to prove that an uncontrollable lust for lust can, in fact, be controlled. He came under the
influence of the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose, who was the intellectual equal of Augustine, and his spiritual superior. Under his influence, Augustine began to let go of modernism. He renounced Manichæanism:
“Manes is an impostor. The Almighty calls me. Christ is the only way and Paul is my guide.”
He embraced Christianity. Yet he still lusted. He heard about a saint, St. Anthony of the Desert, who overcame his libido. Augustine despaired, because he was not achieving the same success. Alone in a garden, he cried out:
“When shall I achieve salvation, when shall I cast off my fetters? Tomorrow perhaps, or the day after? Why not this very hour?”
He heard a voice. It was a voice of a child that said, “take up and read.”
Augustine raced into his room. He randomly opened one of St. Paul’s epistles and read this passage:
“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh.”
In that moment, his lust for lust vanished.
Augustine cried out in anguish for all the wasted time in his life:
“Too late, O Ancient Beauty, have I loved Thee.”
Today is Holy Thursday. On Holy Thursday on April 22, 387 AD, Augustine began his last, and lasting, love affair with his true love, the Church.
He went to the Basilica and recited the Credo (“I believe”).
Bishop Ambrose prayed over him and baptised him.
What happened next was extraordinary. Here’s how Sheen describes the scene:
“Then, in accordance with the custom used only in the church in Milan, Ambrose got on his knees and washed the feet of Augustine. The two saints were united for perhaps the last time on earth. The elder humbled himself before the younger, the more famous before the more obscure.”
Augustine’s life underwent dramatic change. His joviality for life returned. And he was overwhelmed with a sense of inner peace.
Today’s sins are the same as yesterday’s sins.
Are you looking for inner peace? Follow St. Augustine’s example and live for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not yourself.
As St. Augustine might say to modern man about modern sin: been there, done it.