A question on the Twittosphere today by NoWealthButLife: “What do you think is most romantic line in all of literature?”
Right away to my mind come the words of Saint Augustine from his book, Confessions:
“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.”
These words for Augustine are thought after living a life involved with much pleasure seeking, trying like many young people today, to find his happiness in what the society of his day offered. He had a live-in girl friend, he partied, and had a child out of wedlock. He was educated at some of the finest universities of his day, and was recognized as an intelligent young man. He allowed his ‘wisdom’ to get the best of him, and fell into error of the Manichæans, all the while dismissing the Catholic faith of his childhood as being intellectually lacking.
His quest for truth was confronted in listening to a sermon by Bishop Ambrose of Milan, noting how the bishop reasoned his case for Christ without contradiction. This won the young Augustine to question more deeply the faith of the Christian life under the instruction of Bishop Ambrose.
This pattern is confirmed too in the words of the late Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Fides et ratio:
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart the desire to know the truth — in a word, to know himself — so that by knowing and loving God, men and women can come to the fullness of the truth about themselves”
The Confessions is a book in which Saint Augustine describes this process of coming to know himself through reconciling his understanding of God, and how that reconciliation led him to give his life in service to God and His Church. May we today live these words of Saint Augustine, and may we too ‘hunger and thirst for more’, and find ourselves won over by God’s immense love.