Week 45 | On the Road to Emmaus w/ Bishop Boyea | Read Saint Augustine’s letter to Proba

April 19, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
If we are to draw up a list of the Top 10 Christian thinkers who’ve had the greatest impact upon the Church and the world, there would be few who rank more highly than Saint Augustine of Hippo. So, who is Saint Augustine of Hippo? That’s what I want to explore this week On the Road to Emmaus as we continue our focus upon the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father. 
Saint Augustine was born in the year 354 AD in north Africa. His mother, Saint Monica, was a Christian. His father, Patricius, was a pagan. The young Augustine was a brilliant student but one who lived a wayward life. The prayers and tears of his Christian mother, however, were not in vain. At the age of 31, her son was baptized by his great mentor, Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. Ordination to the priesthood and then episcopate soon followed for Augustine including his appointment as Bishop of Hippo, a city which is now in modern-day Algeria. Saint Augustine’s great piety and great learning combined to generate a new synthesis of faith, reason and science. As his contemporary, Saint Jerome, wrote to Augustine in 418 AD: “You are known throughout the world; Catholics honor and esteem you as the one who has established anew the ancient Faith.”

As you would expect, many sought out Saint Augustine for spiritual advice and mentoring. Among them was a wealthy Roman widow, Anicia Faltonia Proba. She had relocated to north Africa with her daughter and grand-niece due to the invasion of Rome by the Gothic tribes of northern Europe. 
Proba asked for Augustine’s advice as regards prayer. To this day, we are in her debt for doing so. Why? Because the reply given is Saint Augustine’s only extended treatment on the subject of personal prayer that we still have. And what did he have to say?  Well, that’s my challenge to you this week: I want you to read Saint Augustine’s letter to Proba with its particular focus on what he has to say about the Our Father. A link to the text of the letter is attached. 
What difference will reading this letter make to your life? To help answer that question, we asked Diocese of Lansing seminarian Jonathan Bokuniewicz to read and reflect upon the Letter to Proba. Jon is a student at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. He is due to be ordained to the diaconate next month. And, most pertinently, he is also a parishioner at Saint Augustine parish in Howell.

+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing