WEEK 1 REFLECTIONS
The main purpose of having come together is to live harmoniously in your house
intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart. (St. Augustine)
The Augustinian spirituality course in English, meant to deepen our knowledge about St. Augustine and his spirituality, has begun at St. Monica’s College and the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome. The course started on the 22nd of January and will end on the 6th of April. This year, we have seventeen participants; both friars and sisters. There are four sisters from the congregation of the Augustinian Missionary Sisters and four sisters from the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The course will have two sessions in the morning. His Eminence Cardinal Prosper Grech, OSA and other reverend friars, sisters and lay professors will conduct the classes, teaching different Augustinian subjects. In the first week, Cardinal Grech and Fr. Kolawole Chabi, OSA conducted the classes on St. Augustine and Scripture and the Life and Works of St. Augustine, respectively. As part of the classes, the participants visited the Basilica of St. Augustine under the guidance of Fr. Robert Guessetto, OSA where we celebrated the Mass of Inauguration in the Chapel of St. Monica. The Mass with all the participants was presided over by Fr. Robert along with Fr. Louis Marin, Fr. Pasquale Cormio and other concelebrants. Knowing more about St. Augustine will help enrich the spirit of our Augustinian religious life. The more we deepen our understanding of Augustinian spirituality, the more we become true Augustinians.
WEEK 2 REFLECTIONS
This week, Fr. David Kelly OSA presented on the history of the Order, development, circumscriptions and Fr. Enrique Eguiarte OAR taught us about Augustine: Christ and Church. Time has passed by, but both of the professors’ enthusiastic way of teaching kept living in us. Not only their knowledge about the Order, Augustine and Christ, but also the friendship and community spirit nourished the whole group as Augustinians. Certainly, this past week was fruitful both internally and externally. We learned more about Augustine and Christ, likewise, we also had quality time to reflect and ponder about our life. More than that, it is certainly a great opportunity for all of us to use this time to strengthen our relationship with Christ and our friendship with other brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, this was a significant week for all of us; we are all settled down and ready to kick off the coming weeks.
WEEK 3 REFLECTIONS
The third week of the Augustinian spirituality course presented new insights regarding Augustinian arts and culture and Augustinian formation. Dr. Louise Bourdua, a professor from Warwick University, and Fr. Alexander Longs, osa, the director of professed students at Collegio Santa Monica, conducted the classes. How to see the sculptures and paintings of eminent artists filled with Augustinian spirituality was the main theme of Dr. Louise Bourdua’s lessons. Unlike others, we must look at the images with a different attitude. The sculptures and images contain rich theology and reveal certain historical incidents which are meant to boost our faith. The participants were inspired to see the tomb of St. Augustine in Pavia, the Baptistry of the Duomo and the relics of St. Ambrose in Milan. The renewal of our baptismal promises at the baptistery where St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine was a new experience for Augustinian friars and sisters. Formation classes filled with heart touching incidents from the life of the professor was motivating for participants. Fr. Alexander Longs’ classes were full of lessons that can be experienced with our hearts. The sisters of our group nourished our classes by introducing their congregations, their missions, and their charisms. It was a time to know each other and encourage each other as members of the Augustinian family. Thank you, God, for such wonderful experiences.
WEEK 4 REFLECTIONS
Week Four came right after a weekend pilgrimage that was spirit filled getting in touch with St Augustine as we visited his tomb and the baptistery and St. Ambrose as we visited his tomb.
This week, we were inspired and stirred up with two great presenters, Fr. Paul Graham, OSA and Dr. Joseph Kelley. Fr. Paul Graham helped us to see St. Augustine in the contemporary world and society and Kelley on the other hand, enlightened us on St. Augustine in conversations with 21th century Christians. Both of these two topics are interwoven. They helped us as Augustinians to make the world a better place through following the trends of the world not as an outsider, but together with the rest of the people; through sharing our love in this one big family in our friendships, community living and married life which will all bring us to the love of God.
Graham helped us understand that during the time of St. Augustine, he lived in a similar world where there were several issues going on, such as the venders who on several occasions attacked and destroyed churches, the different heresies that he had to keep up with. In his writing in the “City of God” he compares two cities, the city of God and the earthly city, in response to the new converts who blamed the problems on christianity. He took us through the trends in the changing world and how they have affected the church and the role we need to take as Augustinians to improve the world.
Kelley shared about the works of Augustine as he journeyd through his life trying to get closer to God, and he realized that it is only through relating well with his brothers and sisters that he can get to know God and thus encourages us to do the same. This week’s presentation has inflamed the fire in us to anticipate more inspiration in the coming weeks as we continue to learn more about St. Augustine.