Augustine Confessions Quotes

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Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.
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Augustine of Hippo
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And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed. The mind commands itself and meets resistance.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I held my heart back from positively accepting anything, since I was afraid of another fall, and in this condition of suspense I was being all the more killed.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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For what am I to myself without You, but a guide to my own downfall?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Tolle, lege: take up and read.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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You are my Lord, because You have no need of my goodness.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo (Give me chastity and continence, but not just yet)!
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I was in misery, and misery is the state of every soul overcome by friendship with mortal things and lacerated when they are lost. Then the soul becomes aware of the misery which is its actual condition even before it loses them.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Free curiosity has greater power to stimulate learning than rigorous coercion. Nevertheless, the free ranging flux of curiosity is channeled by discipline under Your Law.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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You called and shouted and burst my deafness. You flashed, shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors, and I drew in breath and panted for You. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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The soul is "torn apart in a painful condition as long as it prefers the eternal because of its Truth but does not discard the temporal because of familiarity.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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What do I love when I love my God?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Your best servant is the person who does not attend so much to hearing what he himself wants as to willing what he has heard from you.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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How high a price we pay for the burden of habit! I am fitted for life here where I do not want to be, I want to live there but am unfit for it, and on both counts I am miserable.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Reading list (1972 edition)[edit] 1. Homer – Iliad, Odyssey 2. The Old Testament 3. Aeschylus – Tragedies 4. Sophocles – Tragedies 5. Herodotus – Histories 6. Euripides – Tragedies 7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War 8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings 9. Aristophanes – Comedies 10. Plato – Dialogues 11. Aristotle – Works 12. Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus 13. Euclid – Elements 14. Archimedes – Works 15. Apollonius of Perga – Conic Sections 16. Cicero – Works 17. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things 18. Virgil – Works 19. Horace – Works 20. Livy – History of Rome 21. Ovid – Works 22. Plutarch – Parallel Lives; Moralia 23. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania 24. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic 25. Epictetus – Discourses; Encheiridion 26. Ptolemy – Almagest 27. Lucian – Works 28. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations 29. Galen – On the Natural Faculties 30. The New Testament 31. Plotinus – The Enneads 32. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine 33. The Song of Roland 34. The Nibelungenlied 35. The Saga of Burnt NjΓ‘l 36. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica 37. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy 38. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales 39. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks 40. NiccolΓ² Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy 41. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly 42. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 43. Thomas More – Utopia 44. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises 45. FranΓ§ois Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel 46. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion 47. Michel de Montaigne – Essays 48. William Gilbert – On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies 49. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote 50. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene 51. Francis Bacon – Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, New Atlantis 52. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays 53. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences 54. Johannes Kepler – Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World 55. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals 56. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan 57. RenΓ© Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy 58. John Milton – Works 59. MoliΓ¨re – Comedies 60. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises 61. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light 62. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics 63. John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding;Thoughts Concerning Education 64. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies 65. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics 66. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding;Monadology 67. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe 68. Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal 69. William Congreve – The Way of the World 70. George Berkeley – Principles of Human Knowledge 71. Alexander Pope – Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man 72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws 73. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary 74. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones 75. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets
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Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
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The happy life is this - to rejoice to thee, in thee, and for thee.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century))
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All the good writers of confessions, from Augustine onwards, are men who are still a little in love with their sins.
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Anatole France
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No one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him...Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed. The mind commands itself and meets resistance. The mind commands the hand to move, and it so easy that one hardly distinguishes the order from its execution. Yet mind is mind and hand is body. The mind orders the mind to will. The recipient of the order is itself, yet it does not perform it.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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When I come to be united to thee with all my being, then there will be no more pain and toil for me, and my life shall be a real life, being wholly filled by thee.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century))
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For I wondered that others, subject to death, did live, since he whom I loved, as if he should never die, was dead; and I wondered yet more that myself, who was to him a second self, could live, he being dead. Well said one of his friend, "Thou half of my soul"; for I felt that my soul and his soul were "one soul in two bodies": and therefore was my life a horror to me, because I would not live halved. And therefore perchance I feared to die, lest he whom I had much loved should die wholly.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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For a sentence is not complete unless each word, once its syllables have been pronounced, gives way to make room for the next...They are set up on the course of their existence, and the faster they climb towards its zenith, the more they hasten towards the point where they exist no more.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I will plant my feet on that step where my parents put me as a child, until self-evident truth comes to light.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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anything which we are taught by allegory or emblem affects and pleases us more, and is more highly esteemed by us, than it would be if most clearly stated in plain terms.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Complete Works of Saint Augustine: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book Of Psalms, ... (50 Books With Active Table of Contents))
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O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul, I am your salvation. Say it so that I can hear it. My heart is listening, Lord; open the ears of my heard and say to my soul, I am your salvation. Let me run toward this voice and seize hold of you. Do not hide your face from me: let me die so that I may see it, for not to see it would be death to me indeed.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Ignorance and stupidity are given the names of simplicity and innocence...Idleness appears as desire for a quiet life.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine (Paraclete Essentials))
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Often the contempt of vainglory becomes a source of even more vainglory, for it is not being scorned when the contempt is something one is proud of.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Every day my conscience makes confession relying on the hope of Your mercy as more to be trusted than its own innocence.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Late have I loved you, Beauty so very ancient and so ever new. Late I have loved you! You were within, but I was without.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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In words which can still bring tears to the eyes, St. Augustine describes the desolation into which the death of his friend Nebridius plunged him (Confessions IV, 10). Then he draws a moral. This is what comes, he says, of giving one’s heart to anything but God. All human beings pass away. Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose. If love is to be a blessing, not a misery, it must be for the only Beloved who will never pass away.
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C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
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Give me yourself, O my God, give yourself back to me. Lo, I love you, but if my love is too mean, let me love more passionately. I cannot gauge my love, nor know how far it fails, how much more love I need for my life to set its course straight into your arms, never swerving until hidden in the covert of your face. This alone I know, that without you all to me is misery, woe outside myself and woe within, and all wealth but penury, if it is not my God.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Do not abandon what You have begun in me, but go on to perfect all that remains unfinished.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)
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O God, who is ever at work and ever at rest. May I be ever at work and ever at rest.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century))
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Lord give me chastity and self control - but not yet.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Annotated Christianity theology in Middle Age and Reformation): 13 Christianity religious books from the Middle Age of the sinful and immoral life)
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For you [God] are infinite and never change. In you 'today' never comes to an end: and yet our 'today' does come to an end in you, because time, as well as everything else, exists in you. If it did not, it would have no means of passing. And since your years never come to an end, for you they are simply 'today'...But you yourself are eternally the same. In your 'today' you will make all that is to exist tomorrow and thereafter, and in your 'today' you have made all that existed yesterday and for ever before.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I look forward, not to what lies ahead of me in this life and will surely pass away, but to my eternal goal. I am intent upon this one purpose, not distracted by other aims, and with this goal in view I press on, eager for the prize, God's heavenly summons. Then I shall listen to the sound of Your praises and gaze at Your beauty ever present, never future, never past. But now my years are but sighs. You, O Lord, are my only solace. You, my Father, are eternal. But I am divided between time gone by and time to come, and its course is a mystery to me. My thoughts, the intimate life of my soul, are torn this way and that in the havoc of change. And so it will be until I am purified and melted by the fire of Your love and fused into one with You.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I fell away from you, my God, and I went astray, too far astray from you, the support of my youth, and I became to myself a land of want.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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A sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart. Nay, even idolatry is ample evidence of this fact.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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You are not the mind itself. For You are the Lord God of the mind. All these things are liable to change, but You remain immutable above all things.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Life is a misery, death an uncertainty. Suppose it steals suddenly upon me, in what state shall I leave this world? When can I learn what I have here neglected to learn? Or is it true that death will cut off and put an end to all care and all feeling? This is something to be inquired into. But no, this cannot be true. It is not for nothing, it is not meaningless that all over the world is displayed the high and towering authority of the Christian faith. Such great and wonderful things would never have been done for us by God, if the life of the soul were to end with the death of the body. Why then do I delay? Why do I not abandon my hopes of this world and devote myself entirely to the search for God and for the happy life?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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For great are you, Lord, and you look kindly on what is humble, but the lofty-minded you regard from afar. Only to those whose hearts are crushed do you draw close. You will not let yourself be found by the proud, nor even by those who in their inquisitive skill count stars or grains of sand, or measure the expanses of heaven, or trace the paths of the planets.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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My weight is my love.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Such is the strength of the burden of habit. Here I have the power to be but do not wish it. There I wish to be but lacks the power. On both grounds, I'm in misery.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide. But who is to rid it of these things? There is no one but you
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Someone who knows enough to become the owner of a tree, and gives thanks to you for the benefits it brings him, is in a better state, even if ignorant of its height in feet and the extent of its spread, than another who measures and counts all its branches but neither owns it nor knows its creator nor loves him.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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So too let him rejoice and delight in finding you who are beyond discovery rather than fail to find you by supposing you to be discoverable.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I poured my soul into the dust by loving a man who was soon to die, as if he would live forever.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of Saint Augustine: Books I-X)
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For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions (Works of Saint Augustine 1))
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No longer was he the man who had joined the crowd; he was now one of the crowd he had joined, and a genuine companion of those who had led him there.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Is truth then a nothing, simply because it is not spread out through space either finite or infinite?" Then from afar you cried to me, "By no means, for I am who I am.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things? it's certainly not through me that You know them. But I'm stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say, great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised. I tell my story for love of Your love.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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O mortals, how long will you be heavy-hearted? Life has come down to you, and are you reluctant to ascend and live? But what room is there for you to ascend, you with your high-flown ways and lofty talk? Come down, that you may ascend, ascend even to God...
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It has that within which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it. But who shall cleanse it? or to whom should I cry, save Thee? Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults, and spare Thy servant from the power of the enemy. I believe, and therefore do I speak.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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What matters it to me if someone does not understand this? Let him too rejoice and say, β€œWhat is this?” Let him rejoice even at this, and let him love to find you while not finding it out, rather than, while finding it out, not to find you.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of Saint Augustine)
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As the flattery of friends corrupts, so often do the taunts of enemies instruct.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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It was foul, and I loved it. I loved to perish. I loved my own β€” not that for which I erred, but the itself. Base, falling from Your firmament to utter destruction β€” not seeking anything through the shame but the shame itself!
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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To what place can I invite you, then, since I am in you? Or where could you come from, in order to come into me? To what place outside heaven and earth could I travel, so that my God could come to me there, the God who said, I fill heaven and Earth?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I inquired what wickedness is, and I didn't find a substance, but a perversity of will twisted away from the highest substance – You oh God – towards inferior things, rejecting its own inner life and swelling with external matter.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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There is no health in those who are displeased by an element in Your creation, just as there was none in me when I was displeased by many things You had made. Because my soul didn't dare to say that my God displeased me, it refused to attribute to You whatever was displeasing.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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a thing is good and pleasant only because it is connected to Him. Use it apart from its Source, and it will come to taste bitter. Since the good thing is His, how can it remain worth loving if you forsake Him to get it?
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)
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I heard Your voice from on high. "I am the food of the fully grown. Grow and you will feed on me. And you will not change Me into you, like the food of flesh eats. But you will be changed into Me.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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I probably felt more resentment for what I personally was to suffer than for the wrong they were doing to anyone and everyone. But at that time I was determined not to put up with badly behaved people more out of my own interest than because I wanted them to become good people.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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When it happens that I am more moved by the song than the thing which is sung, I confess that I sin in a manner deserving punishment
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Augustine of Hippo
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My questioning was my attentive spirit, and their reply, their beauty.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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This is what we love in friends. We love to the point that human conscience feels guilty if we do not love the person who is loving us, and if that love is not returned - without demanding any physical response other than the marks of affectionate good will.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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You have been professing yourself reluctant to throw off your load of illusion because truth was uncertain. Well, it is certain now, yet the burden still weighs you down, while other people are given wings on freer shoulders, people who have not worn themselves out with research, nor spent a decade and more reflecting on these questions.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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And if all could with one voice be asked whether they wished to be happy, there is no doubt they would all answer that they would. And this would not be possible unless the thing itself, which we call "happiness", were held in memory.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century))
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What is going on in our minds, then, that we should be more highly delighted at finding cherished objects, or having them restored to us, than if we had always kept them safe?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Thus I remained to myself an unhappy lodging where I could neither stay nor leave. For where could my heart fly from my heart? Where could I fly from my own self?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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It is the part of a wise man not to seek for evil, but to endure it.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Complete Works of Saint Augustine: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book Of Psalms, ... (50 Books With Active Table of Contents))
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My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide. But who is to rid it of these things? There is no one but you.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Nonetheless the memory of you stayed with me, and I had no doubt whatever whom I ought to cling to, though I knew that I was not yet capable of clinging, because the perishable body weighs down the soul, and its earthly habitation oppresses a mind teeming with thoughts.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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The mind commands the body, and obedience is instant; the mind commands itself and meets resistance. The mind tells the hand to move, and all goes so smoothly that it is hard to distinguish the command from its execution. Yet the mind is the mind, and the hand is a body. The mind tells the mind to will; one is the same as the other, and yet it does not do what it is told.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions: Livre XI)
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In seeking him they find him, and in finding they will praise him.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Run to and fro everywhere, holy fires, beautiful fires; for you are the light of the world, nor are you put under a bushel. He whom you cleave unto is exalted, and has exalted you. Run to and fro, and be known unto all nations.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Furthermore, what profit was it to me that I, rascally slave of selfish ambitions that I was, read and understood by myself as many books as I could get concerning the so-called liberal arts?...I had turned my back to the light and my face to the things it illuminated, and so no light played upon my own face, or on the eyes that perceived them.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Why then should I be concerned for human readers to hear my confessions? It is not they who are going to β€˜heal my sicknesses’ (Ps. 102: 3). The human race is inquisitive about other people’s lives, but negligent to correct their own.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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Time takes no holiday. It does not roll idly by, but through our senses works its own wonders in the mind. Time came and went from one day to the next; in its coming and its passing it brought me other hopes and other memories. [quoted in Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo, p. 54]
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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. . . I would learn to discern and distinguish the difference between presumption and confession, between those who see what the goal is but not how to get there and those who see the way which leads to the home of bliss, not merely as an end to be perceived but as a realm to live in.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St Augustine)
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I recall how miserable I was, and how one day you brought me to a realization of my miserable state. I was preparing to deliver a eulogy upon the emperor in which I would tell plenty of lies with the object of winning favor with the well-informed by my lying; so my heart was panting with anxiety and seething with feverish, corruptive thoughts. As I passed through a certain district in Milan I noticed a poor beggar, drunk, as I believe, and making merry. I groaned and pointed out to the friends who were with me how many hardships our idiotic enterprises entailed. Goaded by greed, I was dragging my load of unhappiness along, and feeling it all the heavier for being dragged. Yet while all our efforts were directed solely to the attainment of unclouded joy, it appeared that this beggar had already beaten us to the goal, a goal which we would perhaps never reach ourselves. With the help of the few paltry coins he had collected by begging this man was enjoying the temporal happiness for which I strove by so bitter, devious and roundabout a contrivance. His joy was no true joy, to be sure, but what I was seeking in my ambition was a joy far more unreal; and he was undeniably happy while I was full of foreboding; he was carefree, I apprehensive. If anyone had questioned me as to whether I would rather be exhilarated or afraid, I would of course have replied, "Exhilarated"; but if the questioner had pressed me further, asking whether I preferred to be like the beggar, or to be as I was then, I would have chosen to be myself, laden with anxieties and fears. Surely that would have been no right choice, but a perverse one? I could not have preferred my condition to his on the grounds that I was better educated, because that fact was not for me a source of joy but only the means by which I sought to curry favor with human beings: I was not aiming to teach them but only to win their favor.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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But what do I love when I love my God? Not the sweet melody of harmony and song; not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes, and spices; not manna or honey; not limbs such as the body delights to embrace. It is not these that I love when I love my God. And yet, when I love Him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace; but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self, when my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space; when it listens to sound that never dies away; when it breathes fragrance that is not borne away on the wind; when it tastes food that is never consumed by the eating; when it clings to an embrace from which it is not severed by fulfillment of desire. This is what I love when I love my God.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine)
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Do they desire to join me in thanksgiving when they hear how, by your gift, I have come close to you, and do they pray for me when they hear how I am held back by my own weight? ...A brotherly mind will love in me what you teach to be lovable, and will regret in me what you teach to be regrettable. This is a mark of a Christian brother's mind, not an outsider's--not that of 'the sons of aliens whose mouth speaks vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity' (Ps. 143:7 f.). A brotherly person rejoices on my account when he approves me, but when he disapproves, he is loving me. To such people I will reveal myself. They will take heart from my good traits, and sigh with sadness at my bad ones. My good points are instilled by you and are your gifts. My bad points are my faults and your judgements on them. Let them take heart from the one and regret the other. Let both praise and tears ascend in your sight from brotherly hearts, your censers. ...But you Lord...Make perfect my imperfections
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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If you find physical pleasure in earthly experiences, use the occasion to praise God for these gifts. Turn your love not on the pleasures but toward their Maker.3 Otherwise, the things that please you will cause you to displease. Love those souls that please you, but love them in God.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)
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What did it profit that I read the greatest human ideas of the so-called β€œliberal arts” in the books I got hold of. My thinking was enslaved to corrupt desires, so what difference did it make that I could read and understand these books? I delighted in learning, but I had no divine context for what my mind picked up. I had no foundation to discern what is true or certain. I was standing with my back to the light, so that the things that should be illuminated were in shadow, even though they were in front of my face.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)
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Theft is punished by Your law, O Lord, and by the law written in men's hearts, which iniquity itself cannot blot out. For what thief will suffer a thief? Even a rich thief will not suffer him who is driven to it by want. Yet had I a desire to commit robbery, and did so, compelled neither by hunger, nor poverty through a distaste for well-doing, and a lustiness of iniquity. For I pilfered that of which I had already sufficient, and much better. Nor did I desire to enjoy what I pilfered, but the theft and sin itself. There was a pear-tree close to our vineyard, heavily laden with fruit, which was tempting neither for its colour nor its flavour. To shake and rob this some of us wanton young fellows went, late one night (having, according to our disgraceful habit, prolonged our games in the streets until then), and carried away great loads, not to eat ourselves, but to fling to the very swine, having only eaten some of them; and to do this pleased us all the more because it was not permitted.Behold my heart, O my God; behold my heart, which You had pity upon when in the bottomless pit. Behold, now, let my heart tell You what it was seeking there, that I should be gratuitously wanton, having no inducement to evil but the evil itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved to perish. I loved my own errorβ€” not that for which I erred, but the error itself. Base soul, falling from Your firmament to utter destructionβ€” not seeking anything through the shame but the shame itself!
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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When I come across one or other of my fellow Christians ignorant of astronomy, believing what is not so, I calmly look on, not thinking him the worse for mistaking the place or order of created things, so long as he holds nothing demeaning to you, Lord, the creator of all those things. But he is worse off if he holds that his error is a matter of religious faith, and persists stubbornly in the error. His faith is still a weak thing in its cradle, needing the milk of a mothering love, until the youth grows up and cannot be the play-thing, any more, of every doctrinal wind that blows. But one who ventures on the role of teacher, of leader and ruler of those under his spell, whose followers heed him not as a man only but as your very Spirit -- what are we to make of him when he is caught purveying falsehoods? Should we not reject and despise such madness?
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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But what do I love, when I love You? Not beauty of bodies, nor the fair harmony of time. Not the brightness of the light, so welcome to our eyes, Nor sweet melodies of varied songs, Nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments and spices. Not manna and honey, nor the embrace of arms in fleshly pleasure. None of these I love when I love my God. Yet this love is a kind of light and melody and fragrance and meat and embrace. When I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, meat, and embrace is experienced by my inner man. Love shines into my soul, where space cannot contain it. Love speaks with sound that does not fade into silence with time. Its smells are not dispersed in breath, and its tastes do not grow stale. Love clings, and its satisfaction does not break my connection to the experience. This is it which I love, when I love my God.
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Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version)
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But I was immobilizedβ€”less by another’s static imposition than by my own static will. For the enemy had in thrall my power to choose, which he had used to make a chain for binding me. From bad choices an urge arises; and the urge, yielded to, becomes a compulsion; and the compulsion, unresisted, becomes a slaveryβ€”each link in this process connected with the others, which is why I call it a chainβ€”and that chain had a tyrannical grip around me. The new will I felt stirring in me, a will to 'give you free worship' and enjoy what I yearned for, my God, my only reliable happiness, could not break away from the will made strong by long dominance. Two wills were mine, old and new, of the flesh, of the spirit, each warring on the other, and between their dissonances was my soul disintegrating.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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O highest and best, most powerful, most all-powerful, most merciful and most just, most deeply hidden and most nearly present, most beautiful and most strong, constant yet incomprehensible, changeless yet changing all things, never new, never old, making all things new, bringing the proud to decay and they know it not: always acting and always at rest, still gathering yet never wanting; upholding, filling and protecting, creating, nourishing, and bringing to perfection; seeking, although in need of nothing. You love, but with no storm of passion; you are jealous, but with no anxious fear; you repent, but do not grieve; in your anger calm; you change your works, but never change your plan; you take back what you find and yet have never lost; never in need, you are yet glad of gain; never greedy, yet still demanding profit on your loans; to be paid in excess, so that you may be the debtor, and yet who has anything which is not yours? You pay back debts which you never owed and cancel debts without losing anything.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)
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With the best of intentions, the generation before mine worked diligently to prepare their children to make an intelligent case for Christianity. We were constantly reminded of the superiority of our own worldview and the shortcomings of all others. We learned that as Christians, we alone had access to absolute truth and could win any argument. The appropriate Bible verses were picked out for us, the opposing positions summarized for us, and the best responses articulated for us, so that we wouldn’t have to struggle through two thousand years of theological deliberations and debates but could get right to the bottom line on the important stuff: the deity of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, the role and interpretation of Scripture, and the fundamentals of Christianity. As a result, many of us entered the world with both an unparalleled level of conviction and a crippling lack of curiosity. So ready with the answers, we didn’t know what the questions were anymore. So prepared to defend the faith, we missed the thrill of discovering it for ourselves. So convinced we had God right, it never occurred to us that we might be wrong. In short, we never learned to doubt. Doubt is a difficult animal to master because it requires that we learn the difference between doubting God and doubting what we believe about God. The former has the potential to destroy faith; the latter has the power to enrich and refine it. The former is a vice; the latter a virtue. Where would we be if the apostle Peter had not doubted the necessity of food laws, or if Martin Luther had not doubted the notion that salvation can be purchased? What if Galileo had simply accepted church-instituted cosmology paradigms, or William Wilberforce the condition of slavery? We do an injustice to the intricacies and shadings of Christian history when we gloss over the struggles, when we read Paul’s epistles or Saint Augustine’s Confessions without acknowledging the difficult questions that these believers asked and the agony with which they often asked them. If I’ve learned anything over the past five years, it’s that doubt is the mechanism by which faith evolves. It helps us cast off false fundamentals so that we can recover what has been lost or embrace what is new. It is a refining fire, a hot flame that keeps our faith alive and moving and bubbling about, where certainty would only freeze it on the spot. I would argue that healthy doubt (questioning one’s beliefs) is perhaps the best defense against unhealthy doubt (questioning God). When we know how to make a distinction between our ideas about God and God himself, our faith remains safe when one of those ideas is seriously challenged. When we recognize that our theology is not the moon but rather a finger pointing at the moon, we enjoy the freedom of questioning it from time to time. We can say, as Tennyson said, Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be; They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.15 I sometimes wonder if I might have spent fewer nights in angry, resentful prayer if only I’d known that my little systems β€” my theology, my presuppositions, my beliefs, even my fundamentals β€” were but broken lights of a holy, transcendent God. I wish I had known to question them, not him. What my generation is learning the hard way is that faith is not about defending conquered ground but about discovering new territory. Faith isn’t about being right, or settling down, or refusing to change. Faith is a journey, and every generation contributes its own sketches to the map. I’ve got miles and miles to go on this journey, but I think I can see Jesus up ahead.
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Rachel Held Evans (Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions)
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Thus pride wears the mask of loftiness of spirit, although You alone, O God, are high over all. Ambition seeks honour and glory, although You alone are to be honoured before all and glorious forever. By cruelty the great seek to be feared, yet who is to be feared but God alone: from His power what can be wrested away, or when or where or how or by whom? The caresses by which the lustful seduce are a seeking for love: but nothing is more caressing than Your charity, nor is anything more healthfully loved than Your supremely lovely, supremely luminous Truth. Curiosity may be regarded as a desire for knowledge, whereas You supremely know all things. Ignorance and sheer stupidity hide under the names of simplicity and innocence: yet no being has simplicity like to Yours: and none is more innocent than You, for it is their own deeds that harm the wicked. Sloth pretends that it wants quietude: but what sure rest is there save the Lord? Luxuriousness would be called abundance and completeness; but You are the fullness and inexhaustible abundance of incorruptible delight. Wastefulness is a parody of generosity: but You are the infinitely generous giver of all good. Avarice wants to possess overmuch: but You possess all. Enviousness claims that it strives to excel: but what can excel before You? Anger clamours for just vengeance: but whose vengeance is so just as Yours? Fear is the recoil from a new and sudden threat to something one holds dear, and a cautious regard for one’s own safety: but nothing new or sudden can happen to You, nothing can threaten Your hold upon things loved, and where is safety secure save in You? Grief pines at the loss of things in which desire delighted: for it wills to be like to You from whom nothing can be taken away.
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Augustine of Hippo (Confessions)