Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance
What did St. Augustine mean when he said, “Please God, make me good….”?
St. Augustine (354–430) considered himself profligate in his youth, much to the distress of his mother, Monica. In his Confessions, which recounts some of this early history, he is famous for having written what is often repeated as: “Please God, make me good, but not just yet.” However, some scholars think that a more accurate translation of the Latin is: “Oh, Master, make me chaste and celibate—but not yet!” They also think that Augustine was not so much talking about his past self as he was ironically criticizing all who lack resolve about developing their virtues and devoting themselves to God.
Augustine’s sins were probably not as great as his oft-quoted remark has led many to believe. As a youth, before his conversion to Christianity, Augustine was fond of drink and women. He had an illegitimate son in 372, but was in a 15-year relationship with the child’s mother, which would have been considered perfectly respectable at the time.