“Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Saint Augustine knew well the acute misery of being separated from God by his sins. At a very young age, it became clear that Augustine had great scholastic abilities. So, he left his home when he was a teenager and set out for Carthage to pursue a rigorous study of rhetoric. Along the path of intellectual pursuit, he fell face first into a life of worldly pleasure-seeking and soon fathered a child. Eventually, he traveled to Milan and met Bishop Ambrose under whose guidance – along with the fervent prayers of his mother, Monica – Augustine began to see the truth of Christ. One day, plagued by the misery of his sinfulness, Augustine heard the words “take up and read” and upon doing so he read a passage from Romans 13:13-14 “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Augustine turned his life over to Christ; he became a priest and bishop of Hippo. He wrote extensively, but Augustine is most known for his works, “The Confessions” and “The City of God”.
Augustine’s life exemplifies our human need for Christ Himself. He says in the quote above, “Belated have I loved you”. He allowed the desire of his flesh to interrupt his happiness and fulfillment in the life of Christ. Saint Augustine calls the forty days before Easter a time significant of our misery and sorrow. By misery and sorrow he refers specifically to the sinfulness in our lives. For, lent is a time to purge our sinfulness and purify our hearts through prayer and fasting….but we are sinning all year round! We do not have to wait for lent to practice sanctity. In fact, we can and must begin striving for holiness today through regular prayer and fasting, surrendering ourselves to Christ, and entrusting our hearts to the Blessed Mother who will bring us to her Son. It is never too soon to love Christ, to rush to him, and thirst evermore for His precious body and blood… “O beauty so ancient and so new”.
- The City of God, by St. Augustine
- The Confessions, by St. Augustine
- The Restless Flame, by Louis de Wohl
- Restless Heart, The Confessions of Augustine
Learn more on St. Augustine here….