Monthly Archives: August 2015

Late have I loved you…

The feast of St. Augustine follows the feast of his mother, St. Monica – so beautifully and appropriately. She who was so devout prayed for years that he return to the Faith she had taught him as a child.

Augustine’s father was apparently more interested in his studies than his faith and Augustine soon became enamored of worldly things. However, he never stopped searching for the truth. While living in Milan, out of curiosity, he went to hear the sermons of St. Ambrose and eventually became convinced of the truth of Christianity.

This did not result in an automatic conversion for him, however, because he did not find it easy to give up the things of the world that were not good for his soul. And perhaps it is for this that he is best remembered and most loved. Who among us cannot relate to this struggle?

While his Confessions are now considered a classic, at the time they were written they were virtually scandalous in that his admission of struggle and weakness was uncommon among those who embracing the relatively new Faith known as Christianity.

Last night, as I listened to a recording of an excerpt from his Confessions, I was moved to tears. This morning, I wanted to read the words in my own voice. I share my recording with you here – but suggest that you too may find yourself wanting to read the words aloud, so as to enter “into the inmost depth” of your soul along with Augustine.


From the Confessions of Saint Augustine

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light. It was not the ordinary light perceptible to all flesh, nor was it merely something of greater magnitude but still essentially akin, shining more clearly and diffusing itself everywhere by its intensity. No, it was something entirely distinct, something altogether different from all these things; and it did not rest above my mind as oil on the surface of water, nor was it above me as heaven is above the earth. This light was above me because it had made me; I was below it because I was created by it. He who has come to know the truth knows this light.

O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”

I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you.
But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all, God blessed for ever. He was calling me and saying: I am the way of truth, I am the life. He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

The Beloved

Christ the Bridegroom Icon

In the Roman Catholic tradition, we celebrated today the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. I have recorded some beautiful words from one of his sermons about the love between Christ and the soul, the Bridegroom and the bride.

What he preached speaks so profoundly of this intimate love, this marriage between the Divine heart and the human heart, that I dare not try to add anything to it. Instead, I read, I listen and I pray.


Text: (from a sermon by St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?

Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists.

A little something new

Just a quick note to announce that I have started another blog. Guess I decided I didn’t have enough to do with just one. 🙂

This blog will continue as a place where I write in whatever way God directs me for as long as He directs me. To Him be glory.

The new blog is primarily for images. As its title suggests, it too is guided by the Spirit. With less emphasis on words, it is meant to move us through our eyes and hearts. You are welcome to take a look, though I’m just getting started:


The Feast of the Transfiguration is deeply meaningful to me, though I am not sure that I can explain just why. As with many things of Faith, by God’s grace, my understanding develops and changes over time. In a sense, it is “transfigured”.

I read somewhere the idea that Christ Himself did not change when He, Peter, James and John went up the mountain. Rather, it was the disciples’ vision that changed. In that moment we call the Transfiguration, they were able to see who Jesus was in His fullness and who He had always been. All at once, their eyes had been opened.

I do not know if that is true – but I can relate to the idea. As I have written here more than once, I often find myself suddenly seeing something that seems to have always been right there. I did not know I had been going about with my eyes closed, but apparently I had.

Sometimes it seems that I have to bump into things and feel pain before I realize that this is what I am doing. Otherwise it is simply too easy to keep wandering through life with closed eyes.

Were the disciples like me in this sense, thinking they knew who Jesus was but needing to have their eyes opened? Or did God plan a special revelation to these three for some other reason?

Perhaps such a distinction does not matter. God is continuously revealing Himself to us. For Him, “a moment” is as nothing – or it is eternal. He need not start or stop anything. But we, we who are stuck in time and blinded by sin, we often cannot see what is always being shown to us.

On that mountain, a great revealing occurred. Indeed, a revealing of such extraordinary proportions that, aside from the Resurrection itself, little more is of greater significance in the tide of human history.

As I may have mentioned before, one of the things I sometimes struggle with as a lifelong Catholic Christian is that over-familiarity with certain Scriptures results in my no longer responding with amazement to what is truly astounding.

And so this evening, I was grateful to have experienced a bit of Scripture freshly, despite having undoubtedly heard it many times before. Apparently, while walking about with my eyes closed, I often have my ears closed as well.

Before reading and reprinting this short passage for you, I might add that I just completed my reading of, When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers, by Marcellino D’Ambrosio Ph.D. (I hope to eventually write a review of the book on Amazon – 5 stars without a doubt.) As I read of the people and dilemmas of the early Church, I discovered that my relationship with the Church was being transformed.

Now, when I read or hear a passage written by one of the Apostles or Church Fathers, I am impacted in a manner that is notably different. Somehow, it feels as though I have received a communication about the Faith from a old friend whom I trust. Characters who had been two-dimensional to me before have now become three-dimensional – and alive.

And so today, I heard from Peter, one of the three who was on the mountain with the Lord:

Text: (2 Peter 1: 16-19)

It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honored and glorified by God the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor.” We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain. 

So we have confirmation of what was said in the prophecies; and you will be right to depend on prophecy and take it as a lamp for lighting a way through the dark until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds.
My friend, Peter, tells me that he was there, on the holy mountain, and he saw this with his own eyes. No doubt he did not fully understand what it meant at the time and surely he was still weak and afraid.

But his life was changed. How could it not be?

And so my life too is changed. Seeing through his eyes, my own eyes become just a little more open.

Longing to see, longing to hear, I await the Lord’s word: “Ephphatha” (“Be opened.”)

May it be so.