St Augustine's Confessions
Walking down the road near my house yesterday I passed a young man reading 'Confessions' by St Augustine. 'How refreshing,' I thought! I don't imagine that 'Confessions' is widely read in Brighton, but it is a page turner I can tell you. What is beautiful about 'Confessions' is his honesty and his evidently earnest, profound and burning love for the God who rescued him so many times. Were the whole World to read it at the same time those words on the page, it is his prayer, his prayers still alive with spirit and yearning.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, and so new. Late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made — the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace. Amen.
O Lord my God, how eternally great are your hidden depths
And how far have the consequences of my sins dragged me from them!
Heal my vision that I may rejoice with you in the light.
Indeed, if there existed a mind so gifted
In abundant knowledge as to know all things, past and future,
As I know all things, past and future,
As I know all the notes of a song,
It would be wonderful thing and to be held in awe,
Because nothing past or future would be concealed from it;
Just as when I sing
I know how much I have already sung since the beginning
and how much remains until the end.
Nonetheless, I would be in a sorry state if I thought that you, the creator of the universe, Creator of our minds and bodies,
Had no more knowledge than this of things to come and of those past!
You are far more wonderful, far more mysterious!
For you, who are eternal and unchanging, the ever-living creator of our minds, it is not merely a successions of impressions or prolonged sensations,
As for someone who sings or listens to music.
Just as you knew heaven and earth in the beginning,
without any change in your knowledge,
So you created heaven and earth in the beginning
without any change in your actions.
Whoever understands this exalts you,but so too do those who do not understand.
How great you are! Even the most humble are part of your family:
You indeed, lift those who have fallen, and those
Whose place their own greatness in you never fail. XI.31
Happy is he who loves you
And loves his friend in you,
And loves his enemy in your name!
It is surely he alone
Who never loses a dear one
Because all are dear to him,
Through him who is never lost,
Through our God;
God who created heaven and earth
Fills them with his presence,
Just as he created them
By filling them with himself.
No one can lose you
If he does not go away from you;
And if he does go away from you,
Where will he go,
Where will he escape, far from your goodness,
Except to run into your anger?
And then in his anguish he will find your Word,
Your Word which is truth,
And the truth is you. IV.9.
It is as if all that he ever searched for in Creation, all that he tried to grasp, all the beauty he wanted to possess was to be found in the Creator, his Creator and Redeemer, and over time he was seduced by Love Itself.