St. Augustine’s Confessions Registration
Reading St. Augustine’s Confessions with Robert Royal
A five-week online course (January 5 – February 2, 2022)
About the Course
St. Thomas Aquinas is widely recognized as perhaps the greatest pure thinker in all Christian history. But there’s another current of Christian thought – not as abstractly intellectual but powerful and influential all the same – whose most prominent representative is St. Augustine of Hippo. His Confessions is an intensely personal and emotional account of how he grew up in North Africa; then because of his sheer brilliance and eloquence quickly passed through prestigious schools in Carthage and Rome; and finally arrived in the circle of the great Archbishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, where he was converted to Catholicism. It’s a story – some think it the first ever autobiography – of sin and struggle, error and truth, restlessness and ultimately peace. As Augustine says, speaking to God, on the very first page of Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
St. Augustine may very well be the most influential thinker in all of Western Christianity, a figure who had an enormous impact not only on the Church but the world as well. In this course, we will focus primarily on Confessions, but we’ll also take some brief excursions into his other works, including his massive and massively important City of God. There are many editions of Confessions easily available, some free online. But we will be using (and recommend) the translation by the great Frank Sheed, with notes by a sometime contributor to The Catholic Thing Michael P. Foley, and an introduction by one of the great historians of early Christianity Peter Brown. See it by clicking here. When you enroll, you can choose to do so either with or without a copy of the book as indicated above.
The course will be offered online, Wednesday evenings 7-8:30 Eastern Time (Students who cannot participate in the live sessions can request access to recorded videos by writing to Hannah Russo at email@example.com.) This is a reading only course, there are no exams, papers, or grades.
The schedule for reading Confessions and discussion is as follows:
January 5: Books I-III (Augustine’s Early Life)
January 12: Books IV-V (Turmoil in Carthage, Rome, Milan)
January 19: Books VI-VIII (The turning point, conversion of mind and heart)
January 26: Books IX-X (Death of St. Monica, Augustine’s mother, and a look back)
February 2: Books XI-XIII (Creation, Time, Heaven, and Earth)
You do not need any prior acquaintance with Augustine to take this course, only a desire to make contact with one of the great hearts and minds of the Catholic tradition.
Hope to see you there.