Today is the feast of St. Augustine—that “hard-nosed” fella who did his best to do and live the opposite of how he was raised by his mother Monica. (We celebrated Monica’s feast day yesterday, August 27th.)
St. Augustine, a Doctor of the Church, is probably best known for two great quotes. The first purportedly was pronounced as he was struggling against his mom’s prayers and intercession for his conversion. His heart cried out for conversion, but his body was far from compliant when he said,”Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.”
Monica refused to give up—she persisted in her prayer, her faith AND her patience, until one day her unruly kid reached a turning point as he read a passage from Rom 13:13-14, “put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” Augustine threw in the proverbial towel and yielded to God’s invitation for the more in life.
His second great quote comes from his Confessions, the tale of his sinful youth and conversion, as he so beautifully wrote:
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.
All this is a great reminder that we are each called to holiness, each called to sainthood. Augustine “kept it real” as he admitted to God that he wanted to accept God’s invitation, but it was just too darn hard! He might not have ever have given up so that he could receive all if it had not been for others’ persistent intercession and for his willingness to throw caution to the wind and step out in faith himself.
What about us? Is God “…with us in something, [something that we are] not with him?”
Do we have a desire in our heart for “something more”?