in the spirit of St. Augustine


B. Activities

Augustine actively engaged the cultural and Christian crises of his time – active in dialogue, honest and unpretentious in the way he presented himself, he was deeply aware of the needs of his time and of his Church. Three examples:

  1. When Augustine arrived in Hippo, he found a Catholic community cowered by the majority, a group of Christian separatists. He joined with the other Catholic leaders in seeking to work with Catholics to strengthen their faith and identity. At that time, North African bishops were notoriously indepen­dent, jealous of their power. He worked with Aurelius of Carthage (administrator) and Alypius of Thagaste (legal and political matters) for 30 years, developing a vision of Church that was collaborative, not combatitive. As the resident theologian he provided the rationale of a practial collegiality.
  2. A member of his community, Januarius had property which he failed to give up when he became a member of Augustine's community. Eventually he was found out; he then deeded his property to Augustine’s Diocese. Augustine was blind-sided and embarras-sed. But he told everything to the people of Hippo; he refused to take the legacy; he required everyone in the monastery to divest themselves of any wealth they had or leave the monastery. Augustine’s full account can be found in Sermons 355 and 356.
  3. Augustine made some errors in judgment, for example, in the story of Antoninus, a man that he appointed - too hastily - as bishop of Fussala. Antoninus was a member of Augustine's community, but once appointed as bishop, he developed a kind of extortion racket that releived local people of their property and other things to build himself a grand residence where he lived a less-than-exemplary life. The people were afraid to talk, but when the truth eventually came out Augustine accepted responsibility for his error in judgment, relieved him of his position and then had to counter the influence that Antoninus had in Rome to make sure that he was removed.

The Augustinian Institute