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Saint Augustine

Friday, October 20, 2006
Saint Augustine focuses Book II of his “Confessions” with a humble examination of his past life prior to his Augustine draws on the critical element of self knowledge and through that examination the acknowledgment of his own sinfulness. Before Divine Light can permeate the intellect the soul must first gain a healthy fear of the Lord for it is only through knowledge of our sins and imperfections in contrast to His eternal perfection that we can hope to be infused with Light. The exact nature I feel of Augustine’s sins for the reader today (or even then) are not as important, I feel, as the fact that he openly examined his conscience and realizing his unworthiness confessed his sins and failings and begged God for His Mercy.
I found it interesting that Augustine several times brings to bear that it was not God who left his side but Augustine who turned and rebelled from the Holy One. Augustine at one point refers to knots that he has tied through the years. I find that so interesting for in the past few years since my own re-conversion I too have discovered so many ‘knots of rebellion’ that I tied. The God of Love and Mercy can untie all those knots and can create the earth (the soul) anew despite the entanglements we acquire. I think though that God does not nor, I dare say, can not untie those knots of rebellion in the soul who freely chooses the other rather than He. I feel this is the case for God will not take away free will because of His Infinite Justice. Like Augustine and so many who have strayed God waits for the soul to turn to Him, even slightly, so that He may forgive and heal the soul. God never leaves and never stops loving each of us though we can leave His Grace through our own sins. Yet, like He did with Augustine, He waits and allows us to tie ourselves in knots knowing that in time we will cry out for Divine Mercy.
Augustine goes on in Books XII and XIII to speak of the creation story. My personal view is that Augustine focused on this primarily as he was now, having confessed his sins and received Divine Mercy, a new creation. In Book III of “Imitation of Christ” Thomas a’ Kempis has a prayer for the enlightenment of the mind which part of it is fitting here. “Command the winds and storms, say to the sea, ‘Be still’; and to the north wind, ‘Blow not’; and a great calm shall ensue. Send forth Thy light and Thy truth, that they may shine upon the earth; for I am as the earth that is empty and void, until Thou enlighten me. Pour forth Thy grace from above. Water my heart with the dew of Heaven. Send down the waters of devotion to wash the face of the earth, to bring forth good and perfect fruit.”
It is quite natural that Augustine who was created anew through the mercy of God would focus so heavily on the creation story. I can only imagine that after reflecting upon his conversion and the previous years of rebellion that Augustine’s mind now infused with Divine Grace was in a state of awe at the opus Dei within his life. We like Augustine merit nothing but a sure punishment for our sins and evil ways yet to the soul who confesses and begs for mercy He washes away our tears, heals our wounds, unties our knots and brings us into His banquet of love. God did great things with and through Augustine because Augustine rebuked his own selfish pride (he died to self) and thereby it was through his weakness that God was strongest. A lesson I feel I need to take from Augustine is that I should not trust in my own ability for “I am as the earth” but in The One who grants “abundant life”.
Augustine uses the phrase in his ‘Confessions’ which I feel applies not only to him but to myself and so many of us who discover the God of Love and his mission for each of us- “Late have I loved Thee”. It is the realization that despite our own rebellion and wanderings of various sorts that He has always been there loving us, waiting for us and in many souls as Francis Thompson writes in the poem “The Hound of Heaven”- He pursues us tirelessly. “…’All which I took from thee I did but take, not for thy harms, but just that thou might’st seek it in My arms. All of which thy child’s mistake fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: rise, clasp my hand, and come!’ Halts by me that footfall: is my gloom after all, shade of His hand outstretched caressingly! ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.” I wonder if Augustine would have become such a great Saint of God had he not seen his own depravity and been allowed to venture into the darkness so that when the caught by the Hound of Heaven he could appreciate the Light even more and serve Him better. Like Augustine did in his ‘Confessions’ if we humble ourselves and stoop beneath the mighty Hand of God then He Himself will lift us up and create us anew.
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    10/20/2006 08:29:00 PM :: ::
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