Ever Ancient, Ever New

I am indebted to Saint Augustine for his book, Confessions, detailing the human experience of corruption and conversion; the taming of a soul so to speak. It is a poignant reminder of how God calls us, and by grace changes us by our desire for Him.
 
For this, I look forward each year to his feast day (August 28th) and to read from the office of readings the following quote from Confessions. I hope you do too, and if something strikes you, please share in the comments, thank you:
 
 

 

“Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light. It was not the ordinary light perceptible to all flesh, nor was it merely something of greater magnitude but still essentially akin, shining more clearly and diffusing itself everywhere by its intensity. No it was something entirely distinct, something altogether different from all these things: and it did not rest above my mind as oil on the surface of water, nor was it above me as Heaven is above the Earth. This light was above me because it has made me; I was below it because I was created by it. He who has come to know the truth knows this light.

O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”

I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you. But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all, God blessed for ever. He was calling me and saying: I am the way of truth, I am the life. He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.

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 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.”

Confessions, Lib. 7, 10, 18; 10, 27: CSEL 33, 157-163, 255

4 thoughts on “Ever Ancient, Ever New

  1. Sr. Lisa Marie
    This was a wonderful read on St Augustine, I feel he understood the light and glory that emulated from God. His own soul touch the very heart of our lord….St. Augustine spoke like poetry.

  2. St. Augustine knew what he had missed all his life when he turned to God who touched him so profoundly. His mother’s prayers and tears were not in vain. We look for love all in the wrong places and because of the hardness of our hearts we can be impervious to God’s saving grace.

  3. the paragraph beginning “O Eternal Truth…” is my favorite…St Augustine is a saint for today. He “gets” us. Too bad sometimes some of us think that all saints were saints from birth. Augustine teaches us the truth, for today, for all times. Wonderful post, Sister, thank you.

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