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His baptism - 01

St Augustine : Augustine

The turning point for Augustine in his conversion to the Christian religion happened in a garden of a house in Milan.
Its location is no longer known.
This happened late in the summer in the northern hemisphere in the year 386. 
Augustine then had many months to spend before his baptism at Easter 387.
To prepare for it, he went to a the house of a friend in the countryside at Cassiciacum near Milan as a place of retreat.    
He also wrote to the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, to apply for baptism at Easter the following year.
Augustine then received this preparation from Ambrose.
The catechumenate (RCIA) program known to many Catholics internationally today owes much to the practices of the early Church, particularly to Ambrose of Milan.
Augustine received baptism through the catechumenate program of Ambrose, and many Augnet readers today will see that the program today is generally identical with it.
At the beginning of Lent in the year 387, Augustine, Alypius, and Adeodatus (the son of Augustine who was then aged fifteen years) had their names inscribed on the list of catechumens seeking baptism at Easter that year.
In Latin they were called competentes, or "seekers."
This required them to attend the religious instruction that the bishop Ambrose diligently gave daily to such persons.
These instructions were know as the Scrutinies, and thereby Ambrose came to know personally those seeking baptism.
(Paulinus, a contemporary who became the biographer of Ambrose, commented, "Ambrose used to do so much for the competentes as scarcely five bishops could do after his death.")
At each Scrutiny, Ambrose taught and also carefully tested the disposition of each candidate.
(At the time, the Christian religion was legally the required religion within the Empire, and Ambrose sought to delay any person who as yet was approaching baptism largely for non-spiritual reasons.)
Ceremonies followed the instructions: signing the candidates with the cross, exorcisms, the touching of the ears, and the giving of a copy of the Gospels.
Close to Easter itself there was the liturgical presentation of the Creed.
The practice in those times was that the copy was also ceremonially returned, symbolising that the candidates had all learned the profession of faith by heart and would preserve it from falling into the hands of non-believers.

(Continued on the next page.)

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