chapter  9
17 Pages

SNATCHED UP TO PARADISE

When Augustine wrote the Confessions he had already had a decade to reflect upon the events of his conversion. He had come to that garden in Milan a reader of the libri Platonicorum and more recently of Saint Paul. Later, in the Cassiciacum treatises, his initial enthusiasm for contemplation is evident and with it a conviction that the soul’s sustained access to transcendence was within the scope of human discipline. The accounts of the Confessions deny this, for reasons made plain in Book Ten. There the frustrations of continued temptation recall the soul to a more modest sense of its contemplative achievement. For Augustine avers that, whatever he had initially thought, transcendence was at best a momentary excursion for his soul. His moral state was not entirely renewed, nor could it be. He was back where he had begun, changed in his spiritual convictions and bound to a higher understanding at the core of his being, yet still the human person that he was, embodied and on a pilgrim’s path in the hope of salvation.