What does a 4th century bishop have to say to a 21st century girl in her twenties about such an (apparently) contemporary issue as eating disorders?
In my first summer of recovery, I read Confessions by St. Augustine, because I’d heard it was one of the most important books of the history of Christianity. Instead, I came across one of the most important books of my personal history. The impact was so deep that the next thing I did was devouring City of God, and then I chose him for my end of degree project’s topic, so I could get to know a lot more of his works. He’s been the saint I’ve turned to most in my recovery, and that’s why he’s the patron saint of this blog.
Why St. Augustine?
I relate to St. Augustine mainly for two reasons: because he was a truth-seeker, but at the same time he was lost in things that weren’t the truth and that enslaved him; when he found the truth, he had to painfully move away from those things that were his life, and he couldn’t, and he wanted and didn’t want to at the same time, until he realized that the only way was not doing it by himself, but letting it to God’s grace. All of this is very similar to the process of choosing and starting recovery.
Before, when I was deep into my anorexia, I was convinced that it was the good thing and others were wrong. And I believed I was very close to God. St. Augustine, in his quest for truth, also ended up in a false religion: Manichaeism. He tells us how instead of truth they offered him lies, “And yet, because I supposed them to be You, I fed upon them”, he believed they were God. However, they were actually the opposite of God. “How far, then, are You from those phantasies of mine”. “Woe, woe, by what steps was I dragged down to the depths of Hell, toiling and turmoiling through want of Truth” (III, VI).
Another detail we had in common is a mother that saw how wrong we were and did all she could and prayed to get us out of our mistakes. How much did we make our mothers suffer! But they too rejoiced beyond measure when we finally got out of the hole.