Confessions

St. Augustine, trans. Henry Chadwick

Oxford University, 1992

p. 29

Augustine describes famously that, as a youth, he had stolen pears not because he really wanted them but because it was perversely exciting to rebel against God’s justice.  “I stole something which I had in plenty and of much better quality.  My desire was to enjoy not what I sought by stealing but merely the excitement of thieving and the doing of what was wrong.  There was a pear tree near our vineyard laden with fruit, though attractive neither in color or taste. . . . I and a group of naughty adolescents . . . carried off a huge load of pears.  But they were not for our feasts but merely to throw to the pigs.  Even if we ate a few, nevertheless our pleasure lay in doing what was not allowed.”

p. 140

Augustine describes his self-imposed bondage of the will.  “I . . . was bound not by an iron imposed by anyone else but by the iron of my own choice.  The enemy had a grip on my will and so made a chain for me to hold me as a prisoner.  The consequence of a distorted will is passion.  By servitude to passion, habit is formed, and habit to which there is no resistance becomes necessity.  By these links . . . connected one to another . . . a harsh bondage held me under restraint.”