An Act of Hope

St. Augustine: Act of Hope

For Your mercies’ sake, O Lord my God,
tell me what You are to me.
Say to my soul: “I am your salvation.”
So speak that I may hear, O Lord;
my heart is listening;
open it that it may hear You,
and say to my soul: “I am your salvation.”
After hearing this word,
may I come in haste to take hold of you.
Hide not Your face from me.
Let me see Your face even if I die,
lest I die with longing to see it.
The house of my soul is too small to receive You;
let it be enlarged by You.
It is all in ruins;
do You repair it.
There are thing in it,
I confess and I know,
that must offend Your sight.
But who shall cleanse it?
Or to what others besides You shall I cry out?
From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord,
and from those of others spare your servant.

Amen.

Second Prayer of St. Augustine

Telling our stories

TheConfessionsSt. Augustine of Hippo begins his great work The Confessions with a question: “How shall I call upon my God and my Lord, when by the very act of calling upon him I would be calling himself into myself? Is there any place within me into which my God might come? How can God who made the heaven and earth come into me? Is there any room in me for you, Lord, my God?” (I:2)

As Augustine continues to write you can sense his feeling of frustration or bafflement grow until he asks the ultimate question to God that we all should ask of ourselves: “What are you to me?” Then wonderfully Augustine continues, “Have mercy on me, so that I may tell you.” (I:5) Augustine then proceeds with the rest of The Confessions in which he finds God in the telling of his own story – not in the universe or theological books – but in his own story. Continue reading

Telling our stories

TheConfessionsSt. Augustine of Hippo begins his great work The Confessions with a question: “How shall I call upon my God and my Lord, when by the very act of calling upon him I would be calling himself into myself? Is there any place within me into which my God might come? How can God who made the heaven and earth come into me? Is there any room in me for you, Lord, my God?” (I:2) Continue reading

Becoming what you see

Bread-of-Life-John-6The reading from Old Testament, 2 Kings, and the Gospel both described miraculous multiplications of bread that nourishes the people – such a small offering – a couple of barley loaves – yielding such tremendous results, feeding thousands upon thousands. Truly miraculous…but what effect did it have on the people who were fed? The gospel reading is just the first part of The Gospel According to John, Chapter 6 – over the following four weeks, we will read the remainder of that chapter in its entirety. We can actually take a peek ahead and answer the question. The recipients of that wondrous bread – well, they wanted more. They wanted to make Jesus king so they would always have bread. Jesus will keep trying to explain to them the meaning and the implications on what has just happened, but once they figure out that Jesus’ meaning is Eucharistic… well, they walk away. I guess it would be fair to say the whole thing did not have the effect Jesus wanted. Continue reading

Buidling New Barns

Thoughts on Luke 12:31-21, the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Inheritance and riches being stored up – certainly two strong images from this Sunday’s gospel. Themes not uncommon in the gospels. St. Luke also tells the story of the man who comes to Jesus and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  After learning from the man that he had followed all the commandments Jesus tells him, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. (Luke 18) It is a recurring message from Jesus that wealth, riches – in themselves not bad – just have a way of getting in the way of the true inheritance. The man goes away sad – he just can’t let go of his wealth, can’t let go of the one thing that keeps him from following Jesus. He is likely a good person – both in his own mind and in the thoughts of others – yet there is a hidden, unseen greed operative in his life. A covert greed that has become, as St. Paul says, an idolatry keeping him away from true and right worship. Continue reading

Admonition Twenty-Three

“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance” (St. Augustine, Letter 18). At the root of Francis of Assisi’s on-going conversion was the movement towards a fuller realization of humility in his own life: from son of a privileged, wealthy merchant to a lesser brother following the footsteps of Christ.  From one well-dressed and flamboyant as a young man to one who asked to be laid naked upon the ground at the time of his death. From one hiding from God, to one laid bare, knowing that what he was before God he was that and nothing more.  Along the way he discovered and lived all the other virtues. Continue reading