There was laxity in Augustinian community life that was a legacy of the reduction of Augustinian membership and a diminution of entrance standards through the previous tumultuous 108 years between 1309 and 1417.
During these years there had been the Avignon Papacy (1309-1378), Black Death (1348-1352 and 1361), and the Great Western Schism (1387-1417).
Before the Protestant Reformation of 1517, paradoxically (if not unfortunately), the leadership of the Order of Saint Augustine was more effective and focussed in the years just before 1517 than it would be in the years just after it.
Between 1485 and 1506 the five successive occupants of the office of Prior General had been ineffective.
This was not necessarily through any moral flaw or ill will on their part, but through ill health, advanced age, and the lack of those skills necessary for so complex and consuming a task.
With considerable truth, it has been said that the Augustinians had elected men who were holy rather than administratively capable. And, regrettably, these were men who too often were admired rather than imitated.
Nor were the Augustinian communities places of great or public moral abuses, especially in relation to the disreputable standards often set by some members of the Roman Curia of the church.
Rather, the Augustinians had somewhat lost their way, and were being poorly directed in a climate and in a church where the temptation to personal gain (wealth and/or power) was very much present.
The tone of the friars' life was excessively worldly, and insufficiently spiritual. Even so, the majority of its 22,000 members still held fast to the ideals of Augustinian religious life.
Since 1458 Augustinian government had been unsteady and interrupted, and the members suffered from a growing relaxation of observance and from their own indiscipline.
The Order was in a state of laxity, rather than of corruption. The structure of the Order still stood a chance of being healed without having to be completely demolished and rebuilt.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right):
A camp encounter for young adults of the Parish of Saint Augustine, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Picture 1: Group activity.
Picture 2: Cooking at the camp for young adults of the parish.
Picture 3: Camp accomodation for the young adults of the parish.