There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them. 13 ‘Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
Augustine saw numerous mistakes he has made and the sad consequences of succumbing to passion, both of which appeared in his life with increased intensity at that time. The talented youth spent the sixteenth year of his life searching for the meaning of life amid the indulgence of sensual pleasures. His family’s financial hardships forced him to discontinue his education. With so much free time on his hands, he spent most of it in bad company. Years later, Augustine described this stage of his life in the following way:
"There was a time in adolescence when I was afire to take my fill of hell. I boldly thrust out rank, luxuriant growth in various furtive love affairs; my beauty wasted away and I rotted in your sight, intent on pleasing myself and winning favour in the eyes of men. I was flung hither and thither, I poured myself out, frothed and floundered in the tumultuous sea of my fornications; and you were silent. O my joy, how long I took to find you. At that time you kept silence as I continued to wander far from you and sowed more and more sterile seeds to my own grief, abased by my pride and wearied by my restlessness."
There are different kinds of abandoning God: the sensational, when someone publicly, perhaps proudly, leaves the community of faith; and the private, focused more on internal life than spectacular gestures. It usually starts with a single matter or event in which we have shown poor judge or overconfidence. Even the smallest unfaithfulness influences all of our being and causes suffering. We have no control over what transpired in our past, but our spiritual history can and should serve as a lesson.
“Lord, in all my life, I see your silent, great, and loving presence of our Father God and who, in a truly mysterious way, allows us to wander away from himself yet never ceases to wait for their return.”