A Psalm Makes Us Love the Future

Augustine’s Doxology and the Christendom to Come

“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end.  Amen.”

“God granted that the life of this holy man should be a long one, for the benefit and happiness of holy Church, and he lived seventy-six years, nearly forty of them as priest or bishop.  In the course of them he often told us that the reception of baptism did not absolve Christians, and especially priests, however estimable, from the duty of doing fitting and adequate penance before departing from this life.  He acted on this himself in his last and fatal illness.  For he ordered those Psalms of David which are specially penitential to be copied out and, when he was very weak, used to lie in bed facing the wall where the sheets of paper were put up, gazing at them and reading them, and copiously and continuously weeping as he read.”

Thus Possidius of Calama describes the last days of his friend Augustine of Hippo.  In that August of A.D. 430, Hippo Regius was practically the last Roman municipality of any size in Africa still being defended against the Vandals, Goths, and Alans.  For 14 months, the city was under siege, deprived of its coast, and in the year after Augustine died, it was abandoned and burned to the ground by those “subverters of Romanity,” as Possidius calls them.

The completion of the life’s work of Saint...

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