St. Augustine of Hippo’s Feast Day is on August 27.
Conduct a lesson on one of Augustine’s most famous works, The City of God, which he wrote in the wake of the Visigoth sack of Rome in 410. The City of God takes a sweeping view of human history. It divides history into a massive struggle between the sinful inhabitants of the City of Man, exemplified by the dying Roman Empire, and the pilgrims or believers in God who live in the City of God. Citizenship in these cities depends on one’s love. Augustine points out, however, that the Church is not automatically the City of God. Because the Church includes sinners, it must always cooperate with God’s grace and work diligently to be a sign of God’s active love in the world.
Use one or more of these exercises to increase the students’ familiarity with this influential but difficult text.
View and discuss the online video overview of St. Augustine’s City of God. (You can sign up for a free trial or purchase a membership to this website.) This video outlines three purposes that St. Augustine had in writing The City of God: 1) to refute those who blamed Christians for the fall of Rome; 2) to show how peace is possible on earth; and 3) to emphasize the reality of hell.
Have the students research the influence of this text—how it was received by different groups at the time and how theologians regard it today.
Read a chapter of the book with your students, pausing to discuss and process the text. You might find it helpful to read the text while concurrently listing to and audiobook version. Search YouTube for several free options.