Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions” : Day 6 (Human Beings Cannot Hide Away from God, the Most Glorious One)

Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions” : Day 6 (Human Beings Cannot Hide Away from God, the Most Glorious One)

“And now, O Lord my God, now that I ask what pleasure I had in that theft, I find that it had no beauty to attract me. I do not mean beauty of the sort that justice and prudence possess, nor the beauty that is in man’s mind and in his memory and in the life that animates him, nor the beauty of the stars in their allotted places or of the earth and sea, teeming with new life born to replace the old as it passes away. It did not even that the shadowy, deceptive beauty which makes vice attractive–pride, for instance, which is a pretense of superiority, imitating yours, for you alone are God, supreme over all; or ambition, which is only a craving for honour and glory, when you alone are to be honoured before all and you alone are glorious for ever. Cruelty is the weapon of the powerful, used to make others fear them; yet no one is to be feared but God alone, from whose power nothing can be snatched away or stole by any man at any time or place or by any means.

The lustful use caresses to win the love they crave for, yet no caress is sweeter than your charity and no love is more rewarding than the love of your truth, which shines in beauty above all else. Inquisitiveness has all the appearance of a thirst for knowledge, yet you have supreme knowledge of all things. Ignorance too, and stupidity choose to go under the mask of simplicity and innocence, because you are simplicity itself and no innocence is greater than yours. You are innocent even of the harm which overtakes the wicked, for it is the result of their own actions. Sloth poses as the love of peace: yet what certain peace is there besides the Lord? Extravagance masquerades as fullness and abundance: but you are the full, unfailing store of never-dying sweetness. The spendthrift makes a pretense of liberality: but yo are the most generous dispenser of all good. The covetous want many possessions for themselves; you possess all. The envious struggle for preferment: but what is to be preferred before you? Anger demands revenges: but what vengeance is as just as yours? Fear shrinks from any sudden, unwonted danger which threatens the things that it loves, for its only care is safety: but to you nothing is strange, nothing unforeseen. No one can part you from the things that you love, and safety is assured nowhere but in you. Grief eats away its heart for the loss of things which it took pleasure in desiring, because it wants to be like you, from whom nothing can be taken way.

So the soul defiles itself with unchase love when it turns away from and looks elsewhere for things which it cannot find pure and unsullied except by returning to you, All who desert you and set themselves up against you merely copy in a perverse way; but by this very act of imitation they only show that you are the Creator of all nature and, consequently, that there is no place whatever where man may hide away from you.”

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