August 28, 2012
St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor
Matthew 23: 23-26
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!“ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
“Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in thee.”
This line from St. Augustine’s Confessions is deservedly well known, and it captures so much of this great man’s life and work. For he was a man who had long listened to his heart, followed it where it would take him, and often into deep trouble. Like St. Ignatius, Augustine of Hippo was a man of great desires, whose sheer energy of heart would be dangerous for himself and for the world, were it not directed toward God. Like the good servants in today’s Gospel, Augustine used well what God had given him.
One of those gifts was a restless heart, a keen sense of being unfulfilled, unsettled. This led him to search eagerly for the truth that would satisfy his mind and ease his conscience. After searching through various philosophical sects, each unsatisfying and unhelpful, he eventually returned to the religion of his youth – Catholic Christianity. In the Holy Scriptures, Augustine found an image of God different from what the philosophers could offer, an image which could satisfy his restless heart. And the rest, as they say, is history.
That image of the restless heart may be a helpful one to hold on to, since it so often corresponds to the reality of our lives. To begin to seek God does not require us already having found Him, but just the desire for Him, a desire born out of our restless heart. In other words, the first step in deepening our relationship with God is simply recognizing our need for Him. St. Augustine, pray for us.
—Mr. Timothy Kieras, SJ
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may always be holy.
— St. Augustine of Hippo
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