Augustinian Studies

Volume 45, Issue 2, 2014

Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J.
Pages 227-246

Ravishing Ruin
Self-Loathing in Saint Augustine

Why are we sometimes drawn to our own pain, fascinated with our own melancholy? How is it that we can choose to injure ourselves and to rebel against our innate hunger for wholeness and perfection? This article discusses St. Augustine’s understanding of self-loathing and how it stems from the Fall and a consequent false love of self. Augustine analyzed sin as a way of establishing myself as my own sovereign, creating an idol which must eventually be pulled down if I am to be made whole. For Augustine, then, sin destroys that which had already become tarnished through his own bad choices. However, he also taught that the incarnate Word steps into this vicious cycle of self-destruction in order to call each person into a conscious and confessional relationship with himself.