During my self-dictated Lenten studies, Confessions was my Tuesday night reading. But it didn’t take long for me to read it other days as well, being immediately engrossed. As a convert soon approaching the day of Confirmation, this was exactly the book I needed at that point in my life. And it’s not merely for converts, either—it can be a renewal of love for God, support in the darkest times, and a guide to understanding the love one already holds for Him.
It was during Holy Week that I finally got to the part of his actual conversion, as he literally cried to God. It was the long-overdue understanding that He is everything, and that Augustine had been wasting his life on mere human pleasures.
(Way to punch me in the gut, St. Augustine.)
My journal is littered with quotes from his confessions, of which I’ll share a portion, because there’s no way I can improve upon these perfect and often heart-shattering words.
I do not know where I came from when I was born into this life which leads to death—or should I say, this death which leads to life?
My God, how I burned with longings to have wings to carry me back to you, away from all earthly things, although I had no idea what you would do with me!
While my hunger was for you, the Truth itself, these were the dishes on which they served me up the sun and moon, beautiful works of yours but still only your works; not you yourself, not even the greatest of your created things. For your spiritual works are greater than these material things, however brightly they may shine in the sky… But I gulped down this food, because I thought that it was you.
Blessed are those who love you, O God, and love their friends in you and their enemies for your sake. They alone will never lose those who are dear to them, for they love them in one who is never lost, in God, our God who made heaven and earth and fills them with his presence, because by filling them he made them.
How could someone who lived nearly 1,500 years before me know the most intimate yearnings of my heart? It’s as if we were in the garden together, struggling between the earthly and Heavenly worlds, simultaneously hit with that love and desire for God in all His glory.
Part of me wants to read this one again, right away, but I have a whole other stack of books I want to get through first.