“It seems St. Augustine is telling the story of his life beginning from infancy, mainly to confess his sins, but also to chart his growth and development,” Pavel said, pausing after Chapter 8.
“I think it is interesting that he dwells mainly in his ability to communicate his desires as a baby crying for milk and as a toddler finding more effective and specific means to persuade. So far he’s not into active adventures.”
“I think rhetoric was more highly prized back then.”
Pavel returned to Chapter 9.
“He’s using rhetoric to justify his preferring to play ball in school – now he’s being active – to his studies by comparing play to business, believing that schoolmates behave better than bested businessmen. I don’t think he’s really sorry for not studying, but he still resents his whippings,” Elena said.
“Don’t all children?”
“And prison inmates. ‘I’m innocent!’”
“Everyone feels justified in doing what they do or they wouldn’t do it.”
“So does anyone deserve punishment?”
“A prosecuting attorney’s job is to make the accused seem less innocent than the victim. The defense attorney does the opposite,” said Pavel.
“So it is relative.”
“In that no one is completely innocent, or by the above logic, guilty, then yes. St. Augustine pointed out that even an infant is not innocent in that it can be jealous of another infant taking his place with his mother.”
“It’s sad that infants can be pained that way.”
“You don’t think it is selfish of the infant?”
“Even though the infant may have been satisfied, seeing another infant nurtured by his mother can make him feel threatened and unloved. I think he worries that she will forget about him when he does need her again.”
“Or at least that she has forgotten about him at present, even though he may have forgotten about her in his satiety. The other baby drew his attention back to her and made him think he was missing something. Jealousy works that way.”
“Perhaps some infants don’t feel that rivalry. They may delight in having a companion and in seeing that companion made content.”
“So are they less selfish?”
“They are at least more secure. The jealous infant seems to feel keenly the lack of something, and that is sad.”
“What if he can’t be comforted out of it? What if no matter what, he is only happy if the rival is gone?”
“It makes me wonder if he was deprived of something earlier on. Or maybe he was born that way. But if the latter, how can he be blamed for how he was born?”
“I suppose it is the cross he has to bear and he will have to learn struggle against bitter feelings. He should also pray to be delivered from it.”