Restless hearts

You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
St. Augustine, Confessions

This morning I awoke with these words running through my mind. Only after a few minutes did I remember that today is the feast of St. Augustine, convert, father of the church, author of one of the most important works in Christian literature, The Confessions.

San Agustín

San Agustín

What do I long for? For what am I called? For what – for whom – am I made?

We are made for love, for Love. In today’s reading (1 Corinthians 1: 2), Paul tells us that we are “called to love.”

In the depths of our hearts we are called to Love – to the God who is Love who loves us and calls us to love.

It’s that simple – and that complicated.

Our being is oriented to love. There is within us a “holy longing” for Love, for God. But we often stop before we encounter God.

We look at something beautiful and long for it, long to possess it, to have it. But merely possessing it does not give us real joy, real fulfillment.

But when we see it as a sign of the love and beauty of God, the love and beauty with which God has endowed the world, we no longer need to hold onto it. We can share it. We don’t need to hold onto it.

Why?

Because we see that love is not stingy, love is not something that is characterized by scarcity. Love is giving, love is life. It can set us afire.

And so we can pray as Augustine did in another part of his Confessions (Book 10, chapter 29):

O Charity, my God, set me aflame!

—-

The image is from the church in San Agustín, Copán, Honduras.

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One response to “Restless hearts

  1. Thank you for this timely reminder about Augustine, John.
    Forty-plus years ago, after Vatican II, amid the often contentious controversies concerning ‘women’s lib’ and Catholic women’s role in the Church, Augustine was not so popular among women.

    During a Jesuit retreat some years later I had an opportunity to study Augustine’s Confessions and formed a completely different opinion. (In the meantime, I had learned to be a little more objective and not so vulnerable to ‘brainwashing.’)

    Three of my favorite Augustine quotes have become very popular and are often quoted. They are:
    – You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you (Confessions 1.1)

    – There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future (attributed).

    – Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold.
    When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God.
    (Augustine, quoted in The Idea of Catholicism…, Walter J. Burghardt and William F. Lynch, Eds, Meridian Books, 1964, p.20).

    I always learn so much from your posts, John.
    Keep safe in Honduras!

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