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“The Confessions of St. Augustine” by Sheed Essay

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Updated: Dec 10th, 2019


St. Augustine admits that through talks, one easily exposes himself to iniquity. Speaking has led him to commit felonious acts against God by ending up in “praising other men” and “deceitful riches” (Sheed). He says that through speaking, men learn to lie, yet this is against the will of God. He pinpoints occasions in his life, where his indiscipline acts were the manifests saying that his ears were tickled with humongous “lying fables” from his friends (Sheed).

Through speaking, St. Augustine learnt the art of deception. He says “…..with innumerable lies deceiving my tutor, my masters and my parents” (Sheed). This further affirms his belief that speaking is indeed sinful. The book enumerates several occasions where Augustine transgressed against God through his speech. It is thus easier to witness that he regards the actions of speaking as a leeway to sinfulness.


He allocates a good portion of book 2 to create a foreground for his sexual escapades. The tone of the admissions is obviously that of regret and ruefulness (Sheed). He clearly disapproves sex as a sin that chained him to servitude of endless lust (Sheed). He says that his concubine had become a great hindrance to his marriage and his heart was “bleeding”.

He eventually admits that his marriage was carved in courtesy of his extra marital sexual adventures. This is in book 6 of the confessions. In this regard, Augustine openly views sex as a sin. It led to the disintegration of his marriage. In book 6, Sheed says,”She returned to Afric …leaving me my son by her.”

In his teenage years, described in book 1, Sheed highlights how lust took over him. His desire for sexual pleasure took him hostage. He actually calls it the “shameless act of lust.” He acknowledges that the act of lust, leading to sexual intercourse, is rightly outlawed by the creator.

Throughout the book 2, Sheed lists how his humongous sexual desire led him astray from the love of God. He argues that sex defiles the fabrics of friendship, because, in his teenage years, he would desire to engage in sexual intercourse with his friends, thus eroding their friendship.


It’s easy to see St Augustine’s disdain for spectacles. He terms the lavish displays in very strong terms referring to them as “madness” (Sheed). Stage plays carried him away in an unprecedented manner, what he did not understand was why the images full of miseries would, in his own words “add fuel to his fire” (Sheed).

This essentially means that such activities would stimulate him invariably. While confessing that he is still far from a truly God’s life, Augustine lists “vision” as one of the culprits for that. He talks of the beauty of quotidian objects and says that most false attachments are due to worldly beauty. Artistic beauty, he says, must not be exorbitant. This highlights his disapproval of spectacles in life.

In a nutshell, St. Augustine says that sin is as a result of desire of good things in life, the insatiable need for lavish things that leads to immense desire. Spectacular things tend to draw the heart away from the creator, according to Augustine.

It is arguable that he stole the pears from the neighbor’s garden, not because of his hunger for food, but the sight of the fruits and his desire to vandalize and adventure (Sheed). This further explains how and why St. Augustine, in his confessions, categorized spectacles in life as a sin.

God’s attributes Augustine mostly desires

St.Augustine describes God as joy. He appreciates this attribute of God throughout his confessions. His assertions are based on his experiences, especially after establishing the truth in life, and converting to Christianity. He claims that he lived a joyous life soon after and affirms this as ”…Strength to enjoy thee.”

Joy forms his core desire for God (Sheed). He says that God is everlasting joy. It is evident in the book that Augustine did not find happiness in his life as a sinner, his life before conversion revealed a distressed man. Sheed explicates, “So was I speaking and weeping in the bitterest contrition of my heart…”

Perhaps the most outstanding attribute of God that Augustine seeks in the whole of his confession is that God is forgiving. The whole book is based on his confession for forgiveness. Conventionally, confession is an admission to a wrongdoing; it is inherently followed by pardon.

In the book 1, Augustine acknowledges the forgiving nature of God and his desire to be forgiven by God. He does not only beseech God to forgive him for his sins, but also intercedes for his own mother. ”…beseech thee for the sins of my mother…., hearken unto me, I entreat thee…” In book 2, he asks, “what shall I render unto the Lord?…because thou hast forgiven me these great and heinous deeds of mine.”

God is gracious. Augustine, in his confessions, shows thirsts for the grace of God. He persistently adjured God to give him grace”I beseech thee…Give me thy grace” (Sheed). He also acknowledges that God is the giver of grace, especially to sinners who confess (Sheed). In the book 9, he admits that he reads a lot of scriptures for the sole reason of receiving the grace of God. This highlights his great desire to experience God’s grace.

St. Augustine also asserts that God has given him His grace, albeit, in abundance. “To Thy grace, I ascribe.” This essentially refers to his endless desire for the grace of God. Basically, towards the end of book 2, he highlights the goodness of God that he has experienced though he did not deserve any of God’s grace.

Being merciful is what St. Augustine wanted insatiably. In his love for humanity and sympathy for the sinners, God’s mercy is made manifest. St.Augustine clearly wanted God’s favor as a sinner. The whole confession is based on his desire to be united with the love of God through his mercy.

When his conversion from atheism to Christianity was imminent, St. Augustine asked God to grant him chastity. This is because he acknowledged his trouble with being lustrous. His invariant admission of his lust led him to perpetually confession. In this sense; he seeks God’s mercy by first admitting his own weakness and asking God to grant him the capability of controlling his desires. The attribute of God as being merciful, is again illuminated by St. Augustine. “Grant me chastity and continence”.

One character of St. Augustine stands out from his confessions, this is his perpetual desire for sexual intercourse before his conversion, it is thus easy to see why he constantly pleads with God to accord him restraint.

Works Cited

Sheed, F.J. The Confessions of St. Augustine. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1943. Web. <>.

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