Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saint Augustine

"What art Thou then, my God? What, but the Lord God? For who is the Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just, most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong; stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and over-spreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things. Thou lovest, without passion; art jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not; art angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose unchanged; receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting in usury. Thou receivest over and above, that Thou mayest owe; and who hath aught that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest debts, losing nothing. And what have I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? or what saith any man when he speaks of Thee? Yet woe to him that speaketh not, since mute are even the most eloquent."

[The Confessions of St. Augustine, book I]

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Via Crucis

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I spent the weekend with about 15 other young adults at a retreat centered around Celtic monasticism and the via crucis (the way of the cross). It was a unique experience, to say the least. We were at a church on the edge of downtown and in the middle of an area where drugs, violence and poverty are very present. Essentially, we took things slowly, prayed a lot and got away from the noise. We practiced many of the same things that Celtic monks would, like studying the word, focusing on community, taking a vow of silence one night and structuring our day around several times of prayer and meditation. I knew there was power in liturgy and such, but I had never experienced it like this.

Oddly enough, I started reading The Confessions of St. Augustine shortly before I learned that the retreat would be centered around monasticism. Augustine's words can be difficult to grasp. I get lost in all the "Thee" and "Thou" of it sometimes, but something undeniably resonates with me in his words, his searching, his questions and his pondering.

I have a million things processing through my head and heart right now, but the lingering feeling from the weekend is pensive, grateful, refreshed and broken. It's beautiful, but hard to express this time. Perhaps I will be able to write more on it later.

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