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 | By Sr. Patricia Benson, OP, PhD, and Father Bill Ashbaugh

A spiritual exercise inspired by St. Augustine

St. Augustine, who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries, spent his youth indulging in sensuality and pleasures. His mother, St. Monica, prayed tirelessly for his conversion to Christianity. Eventually, her prayers were answered and Augustine became a Christian at the age of 31. He began to write homilies, treatises, and what has now become a classic spiritual writing, The Confessions of Saint Augustine. In this autobiographical work, he writes about his conversion. Let us take time to reflect on just one passage from the Confessions, as Augustine looked back on his earlier life.

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. (10.27)

Augustine calls God “Beauty” in this passage. Let us take some time and think about whether, with all the busyness of our lives, we take time for Beauty – for God. Is there a time we could set aside to quiet ourselves to make room for God to reveal his self to us?

Augustine came to see that all created things are in God. He learned how to have a deep, lasting, rich, fruitful prayer life with God. So can we. Let’s take some time to go through an exercise that can help us slow down to touch God not only in prayer, but also in the ways God is reflected in the beauty of creation.

1. All relationships need an investment of time.

Make an investment of time to talk to God, perhaps 15 minutes to start.

2. Find the place where you can pray to God.

This is a quiet place where you can be alone with just you and God. Be yourself.

3. Consider to whom you are talking.

Questions may arise, such as: “How can I speak to God?” “What do I say?” Consider this: You are God’s child. God loves you. God does not change his mind about that. God is not fickle, one day loving you and the next not.

4. Begin your prayer “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit ... ”

Begin by praying the Our Father. Jesus gave us this prayer; it has everything in it we need.

Take time today to let Beauty (God) touch your heart.