May 12, 2016
Saint Augustine remains one of the greatest saints within the history of the Church. Augustine was born in a small town in Northern Africa, merely 300 after Jesus’ death. After leaving home at the age of 17, Augustine lived a narcissistic lifestyle for the next 14 years: he chased pagan philosophy, philandering his way through the schools of Europe, even fathering his own child. Augustine embodied all that is the story of the Prodigal Son. However, much to the intercession of his mother Monica, Augustine had a life-changing conversion in his early 30's. He went on to be one of the greatest theologians and bishops of the past 2,000 years.
As Saint Augustine chronicles his conversion in his great work
Confessions. There, he writes: "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was without, and it was there that I searched for you. ... You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. ... I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."
Saint Augustine tells us that his whole life was focused
without: his entire focus of life was on things outside of him ... the "world", the pursuit of pleasure, the relentless thirst for "more". Yet, God was
within nudging at his heart ... inviting Augustine into the very peace he longed for. It was within Augustine that he found God speaking to him.
Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. is famous for asking us: "When you look at the culture you and I live in, do you think most people live within or without?" We, like Augustine, live in a world frenetically consumed with without. From iPods to texting to smartphones we are constantly tempted to occupy our time doing something, listening to something, or distracting ourselves with something. Pope Benedict XVI once said: "The world in its frenetic activism often looses its direction. Its action and capacities become destructive if they lack the power of prayer, from which the waters of life irrigate the arid land." Life feels frenetic when we only live without. If we only live without we get tired, lives grows ever empty, and life "looses its direction."
When you look at Augustine's words, ask yourself: do you live more within or without?
We, like Augustine, also yearn for God. The
Catechism states: "Man is in search of God. In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence. All religions bear witness to man’s essential search for God."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2566)
We want God ... and God, just like He did with Augustine, is calling us from within.
What would have happened if Augustine would not have paid attention to the stirrings within him? What would have happened if the first Apostles would not have paid attention to the longings "for more" within him? What would have happened in my life if I would have not listened to the voice of God within me?
Slow down today. Turn off the radio. Don't turn on the TV. Shut off the computer. In the quiet ... listen ... within ... how is God calling you?
Deep within ... very deep within ... God is with you. What are the things that challenge you in living “within”? As you reflect upon your patterns, why and when do you notice God calling you to “within” only to see your resistance to that invitation to “within”?