I'm beginning to think that if I could recreate myself I'd wish to be a scholar of St. Augustine. As that is folly, I'll do second best, and marvel time and again at certain treasures of his that I wish I had discovered when I was 40 years younger!
What do you make of that phenomenon called atheism, when you come across such lines as these at the opening of St. Augustine's commentary on Psalm 14?
"2. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (ver. 1). For not even have certain sacrilegious and abominable philosophers, who entertain perverse and false notions of God, dared to say, "There is no God." Therefore it is, hath said "in his heart;" for that no one dares to say it, even if he has dared to think it. "They are corrupt, and become abominable in their affections:" that is, whilst they love this world and love not God; these are the affections which corrupt the soul, and so blind it, that the fool can even say, "in his heart, There is no God." [St. Augustine (2010-03-28). St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms ( Psalm XIV; Kindle Locations 2408-2413). Kindle Edition.]
The great and saintly Bishop of Hippo cannot be accused of naivete; he had, as his Confessions attest, been "around the block". Perhaps we need to tremble more when we encounter "atheists" today, relying on the diagnosis of the great Doctor of the Church and seeing such souls really as corrupt and only (?) therefore so foolish as to deny God? In doing so, I think we might appreciate better the dangers to the soul of anyone given over to practical atheism, of living for the day (carpe diem), of living as if there were no God. Such is dissolute living and perhaps draws the soul closer to the edge of the abyss than debauchery?
There is no doubt in my mind behind the method to the madness of the Bolsheviks and Soviets here in this part of the world, who for decades raged and foamed at the mouth over simple folk who insisted on praying. I often think of the etymology of the Italian word for "bad": cattivo, as from the Latin captivus diaboli, in the grasp, a captive of the devil. I think we need to pray harder for those who lose their faith than the Forgiving Father in Luke 15 must have prayed for the return home of his Prodigal Son.
AB OMNI MALO, LIBERA NOS, DOMINE!