Thursday, December 15, 2011

Confessions of St. Augustine

Finally, among all of my other reading, I've gotten through reading Confessions completely after starting (again) to read it again back in July. It's definitely a book that you should read if you haven't - I've learned a great deal not just about Augustine's background but also seeing how that has influenced his theology. I don't want this post to be a review of this classic, but instead I just want to post some of the things that stood out to me as I read through it. These are things that I posted to Facebook during the course of my reading. So, here are some things that stood out to me enough during my reading that I would like to keep track of the quotes. I'll preface each one with a thought or two.

This quote reveals how Augustine saw that God was drawing him and persuading him to Himself and then how God continued to lead Augustine after his conversion.
Then Thou, O Lord, little by little with most tender and most merciful hand, touching and composing my heart, didst persuade me. These things I thought on, and Thou wert with me; I sighed, and Thou heardest me; I wavered, and Thou didst guide me; I wandered through the broad way of the world, and Thou didst not forsake me.   - Confessions  6.7.
Here, we see Augustine stating that anything good that he does is only through God. And the evil deeds he did are his own. He adds that we breathe freely with the one [the good deeds] and sigh at the other. We sing hymns or we weep. And asks God to be pleased with the incense offered via the right acts. 
My good deeds are Your appointments, and Your gifts; my evil ones, are my offenses, and Your judgments....and no way forsaking what You have begun, perfect my imperfections.   - Confessions  10.5 
 This one is simple, yet profound - what is happiness in life? Rejoicing to, of, and for God!!
And this is the happy life, to rejoice to You, of You, for You; this is it, and there is no other.  - Confessions 10.32
Along the same lines is the confession of Augustine's heart -  may we have this same hope!!
This is my hope, for this do I live, that I may contemplate the delights of the Lord. Confessions
Powerful thoughts are in this quote! We often don't pray as we should or comprehend the amazing promise of Romans 8:31 that isn't just a trite promise given to us as believers but carries great weight due to what God has done for us (and what God has done for us is found in Romans 8:28-30 directly before verse 31)!
We hold the promise, who shall make it null? If God be for us who can be against us? Ask, and you shall have; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks shall it be opened. These are Your own promises; and who needs to fear being deceived, when Your truth promises?  - Confessions  12.2
This one reminded me of John 4:13-14 - Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
And now, behold, I return in distress and panting after Your fountain. Let no man forbid me! of this I will drink, and so live. - Confessions  12.10
Here Augustine tells us that we're nothing without God - both inside and out. Anything the world sees as "abundance" is emptiness if it isn't from God.
This only I know, that woe is me except in Thee: not only without but within myself also; and all abundance, which is not my God, is emptiness to me. - Confessions  13.9
I really like this one! Augustine's prayer is that God's work will reflect His majesty to the end that we would love God and that those works will reflect His majesty because we have loved Him. It's very closely related to one of his other famous passages from Confessions. "Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire." (Confessions 10.29)
Let Your works praise You, that we may love You, and let us love You that Your works may praise You. - Confessions 13.48
Augustine ends Confessions in a twofold manner. First, he states several ways we relate to God on a daily basis - asking, seeking, and knocking. He asks that those things shall come to pass - that for which we ask shall be received, for which we seek to find, and that the door be opened when we knock. All of that with an Amen and a Thank You God! This is also very similar to the quotes from 10.29 and 12.2 above.
Let it be asked of Thee, sought in Thee, knocked for at Thee; so, so shall it be received, so shall it be found, so shall it be opened. Amen. GRATIAS TIBI DOMINE - Confessions 13.53