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Gus on Film

CNS tells of a new movie about Augustine — that’s won the praise of Pope Benedict:

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI praised a made-for-television movie dedicated to St. Augustine, saying the two-part miniseries “represents every aspect of the human life experience with all of its problems, sorrows and failures.”

Furthermore, the movie shows how “in the end truth is stronger than any obstacle,” he said Sept. 2 after viewing a shortened version of the more than three-hour-long film.

“This is the great hope that it ends up with: We cannot find truth by ourselves, but the truth, which is a person (Christ), finds us,” he said.

The movie, called “St. Augustine,” was directed by the award-winning Canadian director Christian Duguay, and was co-produced by Italian, German and Polish television companies …

The pope said St. Augustine’s life seemed to end tragically because the city of Hippo, “the world for which and in which he lived, ends and is destroyed.”

“But as it has been shown here, his message has remained and, even as the world changes, that message lives on because it is based on truth and guides charity, which is our common destiny,” he said.

The pope has often said his own thinking has been greatly inspired by the fourth-century theologian. When he was a young priest in 1953, the pope wrote his doctoral thesis on St. Augustine’s teachings, and his encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est” (“God Is Love”), owes much to the thought of this saint.

Born in North Africa, St. Augustine for many years ignored the counsel of his Christian mother and led a hedonistic lifestyle before converting and being baptized in Milan, Italy, at the age of 33.

St. Augustine’s spiritual awakening was not an overnight event but a continual process. The saint’s eyes were opened, the pope once said, by an awareness of God’s love, which is “the heart of the Gospel, the central nucleus of Christianity.”

In other Augustinian news: The Tablet (U.K.) ran a mildly irritating review of Henry Chadwick’s posthumously published biography Augustine of Hippo: A Life. The reviewer chides Chadwick for not coming to the conclusion that “the Donatists had a better claim to represent what had long been the orthodoxy of the North African Church than did the Catholics, whom they saw, not unreasonably, as an import from “overseas”, imposed in North Africa by the imperial authorities.” You can trace this line of historical thinking back to W.H.C. Frend, who saw the African schismatics as proto-Protestants much oppressed by Rome. The Chadwick book, though, sounds better all the time.
Round the feast days, Father Z ran some lovely posts on Monnica and her prodigal son. If I were a better man, I would have been linking all along.