Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Augustine of Hippo

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo. Doctor of the Church, saint, and preeminent philosopher and theologian, he articulated for all generations the deepest questions (and sketched some answers) of the human heart and intellect. And, remarkable for the ancient world, he wrote his deeply introspective Confessions for our pleasure and growth in charity.

Some commentators (which we all are) find him "dark" or "judgmental," but I can hardly understand this censure for a man so obviously aware of his own shortcomings as well as his outstanding brilliance of mind. One who can hold both extremes--wretchedness and greatness--up to the light of God in sight of all the world cannot be "dark."

Best reads: Confessions, On the Trinity, City of God, and any sermons/homilies you can get your hands on.

But here, from the mouth of the man himself:

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever 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 have not 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." ~The Confessions, St. Augustine

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