Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lord, you know me...Let me know you.

From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop

Lord, you know me. Let me know you. Let me come to know you even as I am known. You are the strength of my soul; enter it and make it a place suitable for your dwelling, a possession without spot or blemish. This is my hope and the reason I speak. In this hope I rejoice, when I rejoice rightly. As for the other things of this life, the less they deserve tears, the more likely will they be lamented; and the more they deserve tears, the less likely will men sorrow for them. For behold, you have loved the truth, because the one who does what is true enters into the light. I wish to do this truth before you alone by praising you, and before a multitude of witnesses by writing of you.

O Lord, the depths of a man’s conscience lie exposed before your eyes. Could anything remain hidden in me, even though I did not want to confess it to you? In that case I would only be hiding you from myself, not myself from you. But now my sighs are sufficient evidence that I am displeased with myself; that you are my light and the source of my joy; that you are loved and desired. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself; I have renounced myself and chosen you, recognizing that I can please neither you nor myself unless you enable me to do so.

Whoever I may be, Lord, I lie exposed to your scrutiny. I have already told of the profit I gain when I confess to you. And I do not make my confession with bodily words, bodily speech, but with the words of my soul and the cry of my mind which you hear and understand. When I am wicked, my confession to you is an expression of displeasure with myself. But when I do good, it consists in not attributing this goodness to myself. For you, O Lord, bless the just man, but first you justify the wicked. And so I make my confession before you in silence, and yet not in silence. My voice is silent, but my heart cries out.

You, O Lord, are my judge. For though no one knows a man’s innermost self except the man’s own spirit within him, yet there is something in a man which even his own spirit does not know. But you know all of him, for you have made him. As for me, I despise myself in your sight, knowing that I am but dust and ashes; yet I know something of you that I do not know of myself.

True, we see now indistinctly as in a mirror, but not yet face to face. Therefore, so long as I am in exile from you, I am more present to myself than to you. Yet I do know that you cannot be overcome, while I am uncertain which temptations I can resist and which I cannot. Nevertheless, I have hope, because you are faithful and do not allow us to be tempted beyond our endurance, but along with the temptation you give us the means to withstand it.

I will confess, therefore, what I know of myself, and also what I do not know. The knowledge that I have of myself, I possess because you have enlightened me; while the knowledge of myself that I do not yet possess will not be mine until my darkness shall be made as the noonday sun before your face.


Chapter 7, The Rule of Saint Benedict

Humility
The first step of humility, then, is that we keep "the reverence of God always before our eyes (Ps 36:2)" and never forget it. We must constantly remember everything God has commanded, keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and all who reverence God have everlasting life awaiting them. While we guard ourselves at every moment from sins and vices of thought or tongue, of hand or foot, of self-will or bodily desire, let us recall that we are always seen by God in the heavens, that our actions everywhere are in God's sight and are reported by angels at every hour.

The very consciousness of God in time is central to Benedict's perception of the spiritual life. Benedict's position is both shocking and simple: being sinless is not enough. Being steeped in the mind of God is most important. While we restrain ourselves from harsh speech and bad actions and demands of the flesh and pride of soul, what is most vital to the fanning of the spiritual fire is to become aware that the God we seek is aware of us. Sanctity, in other words, is not a matter of moral athletics. Sanctity is a conscious relationship with the conscious but invisible God. The theology is an enlivening and liberating one: It is not a matter, the posture implies, of our becoming good enough to gain the God who is somewhere outside of us. It is a matter of gaining the God within, the love of Whom impels us to good.





Location:Vanderbilt. University, Nashville, Tennessee

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