One man who forever will count himself lucky for having discovered in time the secret of everlasting happiness, thanks to his mother, is St. Augustine of Hippo. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break.
Augustine spent many years of his life in wicked living and in false beliefs. Though he was extremely intelligent and though he had been brought up a Christian, his sins of impurity and his pride darkened his mind so much, that he could not see or understand the Divine Truth anymore. Through the prayers of his holy mother, St. Monica, and the marvelous preaching of St. Ambrose, Augustine finally became convinced that Christianity was the one true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted on reading the life of St. Antony, and he felt terrible ashamed of himself.
Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine flung himself out into the garden and cried out to God, "How long more, O Lord? Why does not this hour put an end to my sins?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!" Thinking that God intended him to hear those words, he picked up the book of the Letters of St. Paul, and read the first passage his gaze fell on. It was just what Augustine needed, for in it, St. Paul says to put away all impurity and to live in imitation of Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life.
We are all on the move towards the great banquet of life. Some of are carrying only oil for the present moment. All their investments are in this present life. Others have some extra oil in reserve. They too are concerned with the present, but also with the future. They carry the extra oil of faith and home in God and love of all that he commands. The good news of today's gospel is that it is not too late for any of us. Those with no extra oil can acquire it and still be in time for the banquet of life. Those whose reserves are going down can refill. Those trapped by some vice have Augustine for proof that for God nothing is impossible.
Today St. Augustine's Institute for ongoing formation of priests in Uganda celebrates its feast. I request for your prayers for the renewal of priests through this institute, and in the whole world.