Dear Christ Church,
This past week in staff prayer we read a selection from St. Augustine’s Confessions, which reawakened me, just in time for Lent, to my favorite of all the Church Fathers.
As we prepare for Ash Wednesday next week (details here), St. Augustine is a good reminder that the goal of the Lenten season is not to simply join in the fellowship of our Lord’s sufferings, nor merely to curb our passions, but a far more glorious and compelling goal: that the blazing beauty of our God would consume us. Yes, there is a death that must occur in us, but only for the sake of a headlong dive into the Spring of life eternal. Take a moment and meditate on these quotes from St. Augustine’s Confessions, which gets a more extensive review in this piece.
“My sin was that I sought not in God himself, but in things he had created—in myself and the rest of his creation—delights, heights, and perceptions of what was true and right, and in this way I collapsed into sufferings, embarrassments, and erring ways.”
“You, Master, twisted me back to yourself, catching me from behind, where I’d taken up a position in my unwillingness to pay attention to what I was. You stood me firmly in front of my own face, so that I could see how ugly I was, how deformed and dirty, blotched with rashes and sores. I saw, and I shuddered with disgust, but I had nowhere to make off to.”
“Come, Master, and act, rouse us and call us back, set us alight and ravish us; blaze for us, grow sweet to us. Let us love you passionately, let us run to you.”
“I took too long to fall in love with you, beauty so ancient and so new. I took too long to fall in love with you! But there you were, inside, and I was outside—and there I searched for you, and into those shapely things you made, my misshapen self went sliding. You were with me, but I wasn’t with you. Those things, which wouldn’t exist unless they existed in you, held me back, far from you. You called and shouted and shattered my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you put my blindness to flight. You smelled sweet, and I drew breath, and now I pant for you. I tasted you, and now I’m starving and parched; you touched me, and I burst into flame with a desire for your peace.”