St. Augustine, patron saint of guys
I used to be a guy. The “guy” is a relatively new phenomenon in the species of homo sapiens. Well, better to say that the “guy” phase of the adult male has increased considerably in duration from what used to be a few years to what can now be one or two decades. It used to be that adolescence ended prior to a young man’s leaving home; that his maturity advanced to the adult stage and he could be counted on to be level-headed, responsible, and hard-working. But thanks to the sexual progressivism of the 1960s and aided in large part by contraception, men regressed such that maturity could be put on hold until a sufficient number of years of drinking, partying, dating, and playing video games could be completed. Enter the “guy” phase.
I’ve never been good at anything male (I dislike football, following sports in general, beer, hunting, cars), and therefore my “guy” phase was pretty tame. But being a guy isn’t about what you do; it is the mindset that realizes childhood restrictions are gone and adult maturity need not yet be embraced. Guys can pray the early Augustine prayer: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” That mindset fit me pretty well.
So perhaps today and tomorrow we can pray for a special intention that today’s guys may (rather quickly) follow St. Augustine out of the “guy” phase into spiritual adulthood. Now, to be clear, I know more about St. Augustine, Florida than I do about St. Augustine himself: I’ve visited there twice but have only read the Confessions once. But what little I do know about him leads me to think he is a perfect patron for today’s guy. Consider
- He had a Christian education (most guys probably had to go to CCD or PSR as kids)
- He was a partier
- His wish to stave off chastity was allowed: he fathered a child out of wedlock
- He later took the intellectual life more seriously, though he embraced the heresy of Manichaeism and its promise of a philosophy without faith. You might say he wanted to be “spiritual but not religious”
- He drove his mother crazy
But, the guy phase only lasts so long, especially when your mother prays for you and when you have a rock-solid bishop to listen to. After trying for so long to satisfy his desires with earthly things, he realized “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” Our culture is ingenious at inventing new ways to keep the hearts of guys restless: new things to do, places to go, girls to date, cars to drive, and games to play. If there is a guy in your life, let us ask for the intercession of St. Monica, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine and pray for their conversion, that they will find Him.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me , but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
Luckily, a new feature film is being released on the life of St. Augustine. Restless Heart is being distributed by Ignatius Press, and you can help bring it to a theater near you. Anyone in the Shreveport area want to host it here?