Saints We Love

Sunday, April 3, 2011

St Augustine on the death of a friend , , ,

St Augustine on the death of a friend . . .

St. Augustine, who struggled to rid his life of inappropriate relationships, has written eloquently of his relationships with his friends. One passage, in The Confessions, in which he speaks of the death of a dear friend, is particularly illuminating. He writes:

“During those years, when I first began to teach, I gained a friend, my equal in age, flowering like me with youth, and very dear to me because of common interests. As a boy, he had grown up with me, we had gone to school together, and had played games together. But in childhood he was not such a friend as he became later on. Our friendship was sweet to us, made fast by our ardor in like pursuits. This man was now wandering with me in spirit, and my soul could not endure to be without him.” (cf. The Confessions, p. 97) 

Commenting on his friend’s untimely death from the fever, Augustine writes:

“Behold, you took the man from this life when he had scarce completed a year in my friendship, sweet to me about every sweetness of that life of mine. My heart was made dark by sorrow, and whatever I looked upon was death. My native place was a torment to me. Whatsoever I had done together with him was, apart from him, turned into a cruel torture. My eyes sought for him on every side. I hated all things, because they no longer held him. To myself I became a great riddle, and I questioned my soul as to why it was sad and why it afflicted me so grievously, and it could answer me nothing. Only weeping was sweet to me.” (cf. The Confessions, p. 98) 

After some time had passed, he wrote: “Lord, these things have now passed away and time has eased my wound. Am I able to harken to you, who are truth, and to turn my heart’s ear to your mouth, that you may tell me why weeping is sweet to those in misery?” (cf. The Confessions, p. 98) 

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