Confessions Book 1.viii(13) – 1.xiii(20)
During his boyhood Augustine was like most other children. His interest lay in games, not in school. Unfortunately, for a boy with Augustine’s interests, the educators of his day were given license to use whatever means necessary to maintain order and focus. This usually meant corporal punishment. Near the close of this section he discerns “the root of this aversion must simply have been sin and the vanity of life” (Chadwick, ed. 15). Though the days of his youth were spent in (as we would see it) relative innocence, Augustine knows that the real problem is his own sinfulness and “the vanity of life”. He hated study and loved entertainment because he was moved by his sinful passions.
In 2 Timothy 2 and 3 Paul describes the nature of godlessness. He includes, in his list, many things that we would accept without question as acts of godlessness. Yet, he also includes many things that are characteristic of young children; they are disobedient, without self-control, lovers of pleasure. Sin manifests itself even in the youngest of children. Augustine was no different. His sin was great.
As yesterday, today I think of the infant Jesus. In his infancy and his boyhood, he committed no sin. Much of the precocious things of children that go without punishment are sin. Yet, Jesus was free of guilt in even the behaviors of “normal” children. Augustine’s experience is our experience and his need of a savior is our need. Considered a saint, though he is, his path to sainthood is the very well-trod path that I and others walk today. It is the path paved with the blood of Christ. That same path which carries us to the cross, through the empty tomb and down the sweet, easy road to glory.