I walked this morning to Starbucks, as I usually do on Sundays, and decided to take a break from reading the Lord of the Rings series. Much as I love Tolkien’s epic, sweeping tales, I wanted to go for something more intimate and philosophical – enter St. Augustine.
His book The Confessions, has been a profound influence in my life. I think I first read him when I was 20 and find him endlessly relevant to our times. Yes, who knew a 1500 year-old book could compete with an AI chatbot? Below is an excerpt from Book 10, Chapter 27:
Late have I loved you,
O Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside,
and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you;
yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me;
I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
I have no words to follow this poem. Anything I would dare to add would not do it justice. Thus, I’ll end this post here and provide an excerpt on St. Augustine where you can learn more about this titanic figure of Western civilization. I hope to find more of my Augustinian readers out there 🙂
Also, you might be wondering why I posted an image of a child laughing. I chose it because that’s exactly how I feel when reading Augustine -joyful and completely at ease. His life fits inside the mold of my soul. Reading him talk so eloquently brings me an extraordinary sense of pride for my faith and affirmation that everyday of our lives we can build, brick by brick, the foundations of love that hold up the eternal City of God.
St. Augustine, born in Roman N. Africa to a devout Catholic mother and a pagan father, was a notoriously rebellious Catholic teenager who cohabitated with a girlfriend, joined an exotic Eastern cult, and ran away from his mother.
Augustine became a brilliant and renowned teacher of public speaking and was appointed by the emperor to teach in Milan, Italy, at that time the administrative capital of the Western Roman Empire. While there, he happened to hear the preaching of the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, who baptized him in 386.
St. Augustine ultimately renounced his secular career, put away his mistress, and became first a monk, then a priest, then the bishop of Hippo, a small town on the N. African Coast. The voluminous writings of this Early Church Father span every conceivable topic in theology, morality, philosophy, and spirituality. St. Augustine of Hippo is commonly recognized as the great teacher in the Western Church between the New Testament and St. Thomas Aquinas. He died in AD 430. (bio by Dr. Italy)