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“Too late have I loved you.”- St. Augustine
I’ll never forget the first time I heard those words sung during a communion meditation. I was a student at Franciscan University, and one of my leaders in Music Ministry, Martin Doman, had written a song based on the writings of St. Augustine. St. Augustine was singing a song of longing for his soul to be united with Christ’s. He had realized too late in his life how much of his life was spent pursueing the desires of the flesh, and the beauty of creation, but truly missing the adoration due the creator.
St. Augustine realized that the Lord was calling him to leave behind the desires of the flesh and the worldly life he had been living. He spoke about hearing a young child’s voice encouraging him to “take up and read,” and when he opened up scripture he found Romans 11:13-14, which states, “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” This scripture was a huge catalysis in his conversion story.
Through his relationship with St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, also known as St. Augustine of Hippo, had come to see that Christianity was the ONE, true religion. He worked tirelessly to convert the people of Hippo preaching what some believe was from about 6,000-10,000 sermons, with 500 currently accessible. He sacrificed his time to constantly preach the gospels and to draw others to Christianity through the gift of His intellect and persuasive arguments. The Lord was asking him to recognize the sacrifice involved in living a life for Christ. St. Augustine’s complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to those who struggle with a vice or bad habit as he left behind a former life of partying, entertainment, and worldly ambitions to be a disciple for the Lord. He would later donate his family’s wealth to the poor, and seek a monastic life for him and his friends.
His mother, St. Monica, shows us the importance of offering sacrifices for the conversion of our children as well. St. Augustine’s early life was not faith-filled, but his mother prayed daily and sacrificed that he would come to know the Lord. Little did she know that He would become a doctor of the Church and his writings, such as The Confessions, would be the most influential writing in all Western thought.
“I reach out for creation, not creator,” Martin sang, and the words pierced my heart. We have all sought out love and have found the lesser versions of it. We have been temporarily “smitten” by relationships, hobbies, financial gain, or the lure of popularity and fame. We try to fill up our hearts with temporal things, while our soul desires the only love that can satisfy. St. Augustine said “my heart will not rest, until it rests in you.”
The Lord has been showing me in the past few years how important it is to pray and fast for the conversion of souls. There are so many souls who long for the love that Christ offers but have no knowledge of who Christ is. St. Therese understood this need to save souls. She often sacrificed her own desires for the greater benefit of her sisters. St. Therese once said, “My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience.” While the Lord was not calling her to preach to the masses like St. Augustine, St. Therese, also a doctor of the Church, taught by the way she lived her life, and her simple writings of the Little Way.
Where is God calling us to abandon our worldly desires to seek His heart? Where are we settling for a love that will not truly bring us the joy and rest we seek? God desires your heart.
“Our hearts will not rest, until they rest in Him.”