St. Augustine, also known as Augustine of Hippo, was a prominent Christian theologian and philosopher who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries. He wrote extensively on various topics, including love and friendship. His views on these subjects can be found in his works, especially in two of his notable writings: “Confessions” and “The City of God.” Here’s a brief overview of some of his key ideas:
Love of God:
Augustine emphasized the centrality of love, particularly the love of God, in a person’s life. He believed that the ultimate purpose of human existence is to love and be in union with God. In his “Confessions,” he famously wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Augustine saw God as the source and object of perfect love, and he encouraged people to seek their true fulfillment in their relationship with God.
Love of Neighbor:
For Augustine, love wasn’t limited to the love of God but extended to love for one’s fellow human beings. He stressed the importance of compassion, charity, and selflessness in our interactions with others. The Christian concept of loving one’s neighbor as oneself was central to his ethical and moral teachings.
Augustine discussed friendship in his work “The City of God,” where he contrasted earthly friendships with heavenly ones. He acknowledged the value of earthly friendships but also recognized their limitations. He believed that human friendships, though valuable, are temporary and subject to change and loss. However, he pointed to the idea of friendship with God as the ultimate and everlasting bond that could transcend the limitations of earthly relationships.
Friendship with God:
Augustine saw friendship with God as the highest form of love and companionship. He believed that through a close and loving relationship with God, individuals could find true fulfillment and happiness. He encouraged his readers to seek a personal connection with God through prayer, meditation, and a life of virtue.
Love as the Motive for Action:
In Augustine’s teachings, love was not merely a feeling but a driving force for action. He argued that love should inspire individuals to act justly, mercifully, and compassionately towards others. Love, according to Augustine, should be the guiding principle in making moral choices and living a virtuous life.
Overall, Augustine’s views on love and friendship were deeply rooted in his Christian faith and shaped by his philosophical reflections on the nature of the human soul and its relationship with God. His writings on these subjects continue to be influential and widely studied in theological and philosophical circles.
Holger: I just feel tempted to share the pointer
that God is not “another”, God being more intimate
and real than the belief in “me”.
“Closer than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.”