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Augustine's Confessions and Petrarch

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Confessions is a ?must read? for all believers. Written half as an autobiography and half as a prayer, Augustine weaves in and out of dialogue with God. Throughout he sets an example of spiritual formation for all who read. For Augustine, spiritual formation begins with desire. Left to ourselves, desire turns inward on our own pleasure and lust, as Augustine experienced for years. The solution, however, is not to destroy inner desire but to transform it. Created in God?s image, we were made to desire?to reach outside ourselves toward the ?other??both God and other people. ...read more.


After reading Confessions, I want to have that same mindset that Augustine had and radically follow after Christ. Likewise, Petrarch had an influence while I was reading. The Italian poet and philosopher Petrarch is often called the ?father of humanism.? Living from 1304 to 1374, his writings explored human emotions, driven by his muse, the ever-intangible Laura. Petrarch often carried around a copy of Augustine?s Confessions. Petrarch at one point imagines a conversation between himself and Augustine as he pondered deep in his soul the allure of humanist love and Augustine?s insistence that only the spiritual mattered. ...read more.


Petrarch, however, cannot simply embrace Augustine?s rejection of earthly matters. There is something profound in the human experience, even if one agrees that materialism alone can be dangerous and addictive. Seeing Petrarch?s view on life was also helpful, even though it was wrong, because it made me ask myself what I was living for, the material things or the only thing that matters most?Jesus Christ. Petrarch suggests a solution: appreciation of true beauty, such as poetry, literature, art, or the highest of human emotions. Those are more real than collection material possessions, but our lives are still just a tiny speck in the expanse of time. If we rely on the material world for our joy or for our meaning, we will be disappointed because by nature the material world is transitory. ...read more.

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