Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions”: Day 5 (Honoring and Glorifying God through Reading and Writing, and Thinking and Scholarship)

Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions”: Day 5 (Honoring and Glorifying God through Reading and Writing, and Thinking and Scholarship)

“Even now I cannot fully understand why the Greek language, which I learned as a child, was so distasteful to me. I loved Latin, not the elementary lessons but those which I studied later under the teachers of literature. The first lessons in Latin were reading, writing, and counting, and they were as much of an irksome imposition as any studies in Greek…But in the later lessons I was obliged to memorize the wanderings of a hero named Aeneas, while in the meantime I failed to remember my own erratic ways. I learned to lament the death of Dido, who killed for love, while all the time, in the midst of these things, I was dying, separated from you, my God and my life, and I shed no tears for my own plight…

This traditional education taught me that Jupiter punishes the wicked with his thunderbolts and yet commits adultery himself. The two roles are quite incompatible. All the same he is represented in this way, and the result is that those who follow his example in adultery can put a bold face on it by making false pretences of thunder…

You, O Lord are my King and my God, and in your service I want to use whatever good I learned as a boy. I can speak and write, read and count, and I want these things to be used to serve you, because when I studied other subjects you checked and forgave me the sins I committed by taking pleasure in such worthless things. It is true that these studies taught me many useful words, but the same worlds can be learnt by studying something that matters, and this is the safe course for a boy to follow….

Grant my prayer, O Lord, and do not allow my soul to wilt under the discipline which you prescribe. Let me not tire of thanking you for your mercy in rescuing me from all my wicked ways, so that you may be sweeter to me than all the joys which used to tempt me; so I that may love you most intensely and clasp your hand with all the power of my devotion; so that you may save me from all temptation until the end of my days.”

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