We Augustinians take our cues from Saint Augustine of Hippo, the 5th century bishop in North Africa. What was essential to Augustine when he gathered the first members of his community was capturing the spirit of the first Christians found in the Acts of the Apostles: a community that came together and shared all things in common, all the while ministering to God’s People.
Our common life is built on mutual acceptance and respect, kindness and concern, as well as a willingness to listen to others and to open oneself to them.
Rooted in Augustinian Spirituality
Augustinian spirituality is a unique lens through which one can discover God. Stemming from Saint Augustine’s own life, his writings, and his teachings, Augustinian spirituality can largely be summed up as the act of journeying together in search of the truth that is God. This journey, as Augustine’s own life gives example, was not merely a communal and internal journey toward God, but rather a communal and outward journey. Augustine took scripture as a guide for truth, and specifically followed the example of the first Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. As such, he and the communities in which he lived followed Christ’s outward model of love through service to others.
The Rule of Augustine
The basic principles of the Augustinian spirituality of religious community life can be found in Augustine's Rule. This brief document presents Augustine's vision of the values that underlie the life of a vibrant and holy religious community.
The Rule of St. Augustine was written around the year 400. It is the oldest monastic rule that we have today. The Rule of St. Benedict came approximately 120 years later. The Rule of St. Francis of Assisi was composed more than 800 years later.
In spite of its ancient origin, the Rule of St. Augustine endures because it expresses enduring principles and manifests an understanding of the human condition. It is not concerned with regulating small details such as the daily schedule, the arrangement of furniture or the kinds of food that may or may not be consumed at meals. Rather, Augustine’s Rule outlines what is essential for a religious life in community which is guided by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In reading the Rule, one must occasionally make allowance for references to certain time-bound customs of Augustine's fifth-century culture. These include, for example, attitudes about bathing in the public baths of Roman Africa (which, in Augustine’s time, had become centers of immoral activities), and the “one-size-fits-all” clothing style that was the norm (see Chapter Five)