The impetus behind this handbook was a man named Laurentius.
He had implored Augustine to write a short work on the proper worship of God, the meaning and the fulfilment of the chief purpose of our lives, and the proper foundation of Christian faith.
Laurentius specifically asked for a "handbook": one to be carried in the hand, and not left unopened in a library.
One later manuscript called Laurentius a deacon, and another a legal officer of the city of Rome.
He was probably a layman.
Just a year earlier, Augustine had restrained the brother of Laurentius, who was a Roman tribune, from being too zealous in fighting the heresy of Donatism.
In view of the various prevailing heresies and accompanying confusion, Laurentius wanted a brief positive description of Christian living that he could carry with him on his Christian walk.
Though small in size, the Enchiridion certainly deserves its position as a classic in Christian writing.
The Confessions and Enchridion are two beacons, which were written twenty years apart.
At the time of writing the Confessions, Augustine stood on the threshold of his career in the Church.
In the Enchiridion, he stood as triumphant champion of Roman Catholic Christian doctrine.
And so, in these two works - the nearest equivalent to a summation in the whole of the written output of Augustine - is to be found all his essential themes and the characteristic tone of his thought.
Enchiridion On Faith, Hope, and Love. Online. Newly translated and edited by Albert Outler Ph.D., D.D.
Enchridion. The entry that appeared in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1903. A summary of each chapter is provided.
The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, by Augustine of Hippo. "The Enchiridion, literally meaning a book one holds in the hand, is the mature thought of unquestionably one of the most influential theologians of the western church, Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Augustine discusses the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. . . . Those seeking an excellent introduction either to the thought of the mature Augustine or those needing material for catechetical instruction in the parish would do well to consult this timeless classic." (From a review in Theology Today.) New City Press, New York. ISBN 1-56548-124-0, Paper.