St Augustine’s Conversion


How did St Augustine stop sinning?

Did he just simply stop after he’s intense weeping in the garden?


I think it would be wrong to say that he stopped sinning (i don’t know) but when he read one of the letter’s of St. Paul it said to put on Christ. Prior to this he thought it impossible to follow christian teaching. This is the moment he made a conscious effort to stop sinning.


I am replying because I saw the name Augustine. I just started reading the book

Confessions of St Augustine. I jumped forward a bit…

I would say his conversion was less than simple. How he stopped sinning I believe

he fell in love with God. and this is a simple answer,

It is maybe a book to read…

especially as your forum name is Augustine - that is a sign:)



As you know, we all are sinners (cf. 1 John 1:8) and St. Augustine continued to sin after his conversion, however post-conversion he amended his life and stopped living in sin, e.g. he stopped having extra-marital relations (in fact any sexual relations at all), stopped attending the theater (which, unlike today, was pornographic and idolatrous… come to think of it maybe that isn’t so different from today :)), etc. If you haven’t read Confessions, I highly recommend it, as well as City of God, which I’m a couple hundred pages into at the moment. St. Augustine is a brilliant writer, one of the best theologians in Church history, and a great example for converts!


Could more posters expound on this topic?


St Augustine was blessed by the Holy spirit into a radically changed life. The Church recognizes this type of conversion but admits that it is not the normal way to salvation. The Holy spirit blesses as she chooses, not based on man’s merit. The normal way to salvation is through our baptism when the Holy Spirit is given. Our spiritual growth proceeds from there. St Augustine’s conversion has been a great blessing for the Catholic faith. He was a tremendous contributor in establishing our Doctrine of faith. His writings inspire us to the possibility of a ‘closer’ relationship with God and a desire for perfection of faith.


Please note, the Holy Spirit is (and has always been) referred to as “He” as are both the Father and the Son. Remember we believe in one God, not two gods and a goddess. You can the see appropriateness of this in the Latin, Spiritus Sanctus (not Spirita Sancta) and in other languages such as Italian, Santo Spirito, not Santa Spirita.

We can see the antiquity of this usage from, for example, the Latin of the Nicene Creed when we say:

Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem:

Which is in the masculine accusative case. Compared to:

Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.

Which is in the feminine accusative case.

Admittedly, this is harder to see in the English translation.

If that was just a typo, please accept my apologies. :slight_smile:

May God bless you.


Certainly didn’t mean to offend you PietroPaolo . As I was writing my post, I was remembering readings from Sirach. It is a beautiful book. I generally use the DR version of the bible. Maybe the author wasn’t referring to the Holy Spirit but certainly at least some aspect called wisdom. I’ll only quote from chapter 1 but chapter 4 is my favorite.

Sirach 1

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

1 All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time.

2 Who hath numbered the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of the world? Who hath measured the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss?

3 Who hath searched out the wisdom of God that goeth before all things?

4 Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting.

5 The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways are everlasting commandments.

6 To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed, and who hath known her wise counsels?

7 To whom hath the discipline of wisdom been revealed and made manifest? and who hath understood the multiplicity of her steps?

8 There is one most high Creator Almighty, and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God of dominion.

9 He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.

10 And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.

I’m sorry you read my post and felt that my use of the word ‘she’ was the only part worth commenting on. I’ll try to do better.


I’m glad you brought up Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus) as it perfectly proves my point. The ambiguity is only in the English. The word “wisdom” has gender in most languages, including Latin, Hebrew, and Greek (it doesn’t in English). The gender it has is feminine, which is why (again in those languages) one must use ‘she’ when speaking of ‘wisdom’. This can be easily seen in the above quoted Sirach 1:9 in the Vulgate (the DR is a translation of the Latin Vulgate) where Holy Spirit/ Holy Ghost (spiritu sancto) is clearly in the masculine while ‘wisdom’ is referred to as illam (her):

*ipse creavit illam **spiritu sancto** et vidit et dinumeravit et mensus est*

Or in the DR translation:

He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.

Theologically, you hit the nail on the head - wisdom is an aspect of God. Some fall into error by thinking the Holy Spirit and wisdom are identical, which they are not. The Holy Spirit is not the wisdom of God, but simply God - as are the Father and the Son. Each person of the Divine Trinity is all of God, none are a part of God (e.g. the Holy Spirit is not the wisdom of God as if the Father and the Son lack wisdom or as if the Holy Spirit wasn’t the power of God).

Linguistically, if you were a Latin, Greek, or Hebrew speaker and you were referring to the wisdom of a man you would still use the feminine pronouns for wisdom, of course you would not be calling the wise man a woman! In much the same way the feminine pronouns are used in Sirach when referring to wisdom without implying that the Holy Spirit is a “she” instead of a “he.”


PietroPaolo…Ok you win. I can only read English. Your knowledge far exceeds mine. Certainly not worth arguing with you about.
Augustine3…When you read down to here, please go back and re-read my first post and disregard this “s”:slight_smile:


Thanks everyone for your posts :tiphat:


Read St Augustine’s “Confessions”. While it has much material that is theology or philosophy, it also fleshes out his conversion. It was a long and gradual process fueled by scripture, his own reason, the prayers and witness of his mother St Monica. He knew and studied scripture before his conversion, but was aloof from the faith, studying it academically. He had no relationship with Jesus Christ or the Church. It’s a very good read, although the finer points of theology and philosophy do require some prayerful thought. It is not what I would call light reading.


clem456…yes it truly is a great book. I may not be understanding you properly but it seems as if you are saying that his conversion was a result of his study and reason. Am I correct?


I hate to say something definitive as it has been a couple years since I read the book, but he was a gifted student and thinker from a young age, so it seems yes his faith was well reasoned. And I believe he was already a student of scripture and believer before he truly abandoned his lifestyle.
Some please correct me if I am messing that up.


clem456… I don’t think everyone has to get the same thing when reading, so 'messing up" is something we’ll leave for others to decide. When I read ‘Confessions’ I saw a man of great intellect, with all the skills of reasoning, comparable to Socrates and Plato. Even with all his abilities, he was unable to grasp the basic foundation of faith, It was only through a direct intervention of the Holy Spirit that he was able to come to ‘know’ God. When he was blessed by the Holy Spirit, it was in the same way that Paul was blessed and became a totally changed man. Augustine didn’t change from sinner to Saint because he had great self control to stop sinning. He changed because he had ‘become a new man’ exactly as St.Paul was speaking about. Our Church recognizes this type of conversion as a blessing that comes as God wills, not something we can willfully achieve. Christ established the Church through St Peter to establish (with the help of the Holy Spirit) a path for our salvation.
It is Augustine’s ability to put his reasoning process on paper that makes his writings so compelling. I particularly love his description of where God ‘is’. His analysis of time is fascinating, there is so much in his writings! Many of his homilies written after he became a bishop are on-line. His book ‘City of God’ gives inspiration to many people. Does it sound like I’m a big fan of St Augustine? He’s my chosen patron saint.


Yes good stuff.
Funny you mention his analysis of time. It would be easy to gloss over this section in a bored stupor, but it has much to say to us about the folly of worrying about the past and future, or of being stuck in small t tradition and the expense of the present.


Ok I’m about half way reading through St Augustine’s “Confessions” (remarkable book, I love it!). I found it interesting that Augustine had struggled and knew from his youth that sex outside of marriage was a wrong. He prayed to God while he was a youth “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet”. During Augustine’s transition from Platonism to Christianity, Augustine knew in his heart the Catholic Church was the truth but he kept making excuses to hold off his conversion in order to further enjoy carnal pleasure as he was still a slave to it. The final straw was when a friend of his “Ponticianus” shared his story of two men who had read the story of St Anthony of the desert and decided to give up their services to the state and the Emperor’s friendship in order to follow Christ. Augustine could no longer lie to himself and thus finally gave up his life of carnal sin.

What a tremendous saint and gift to the Church! St Augustine pray for us!


Thought this commentary on Augustine’s conversion might be suitable here. I myself love Augustine’s confessions.


I’m reading a book that said that after his conversion, Augustine was involved in some heresy for a number of years. Can’t remember which one.


I read the book a number of years ago and I can say that it I loved reading about his life and conversion! So inspiring! He had such a brilliant mind! I am so glad that God chose this great saint for all of us! :slight_smile:

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