In May, we celebrated Saint Monnica, mother of Augustine. Now at last we have arrived at the saint day of her son.
It is hard to estimate the influence of this one North African bishop on Christianity. Augustine gave us way too much to think about on the topic of original sin, an outgrowth of his lifelong struggle against lust (we still have a theological hangover from his work on original sin). He also gave us the just war theory, which teaches us not so much whether or not to enter conflict, but what is an ethical way of conducting one's part in the conflict. As Rome fell to barbarian invaders, he wrote the massive City of God, which explained how the Church, the "city of God" would eventually win out over human empires -- "the cities of men."
Augustine was a Berber, not a Roman, an outsider, a genius rhetorician, a wild and crazy guy, who after years of resisting his mother's prayers and the grace of God, gave in. He heard a child in a garden singing, "Take and read, take and read." He picked up the Letter to the Romans (which has gotten more people riled up for Jesus than any other book in the Bible ... like Martin Luther and John Wesley for starters.) and was converted.
"Thou hast made us for Thyself," he wrote later in his Confessions, "And our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."