'St Augustine of Hippo' by Philippe de Champaigne (1645-50)
The Heart at Rest
Ask the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sky.
Question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness
lights the day, the moon whose splendour softens the gloom
of night. Ask of the living creatures that move in the waves,
that roam the earth, that fly in the heavens.
Question all these and they will answer, 'Yes, we are beautiful.'
Their very loveliness is their confession of God: for who made
these lovely mutable things, but He who is Himself
Too late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new,
too late have I loved you.
I sought for you abroad, but you were within me though
I was far from you. Then you touched me, and I longed
for your peace, and now all my hope is only in your great mercy.
Give what you command and then command what you will.
You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless till
it rests in you. Who will grant me to rest content in you?
To whom shall I turn for the gift of your coming into my heart
so that I may forget all the wrong I have done, and embrace
you alone, my only good?
St Augustine of Hippo. (354-430 AD)
'Come, you blessed of my Father, receive a kingdom'
What are we to receive? A kingdom. For doing what? 'I was hungry
and you fed me.' What is more ordinary, more of this world, than
to feed the hungry, and yet it rates the Kingdom of Heaven!
'Feed the hungry, take the homeless into your house, clothe the naked.'
But what if you can't afford bread for the hungry, or have no house
nor spare clothes? Give a cup of cold water, put two pence in the alms
box. The poor widow gave as much with her two pennies as Zacchaeus
did with half his fortune.
What you have is the measure of your gift. Yet many give alms to a beggar
to show off, and not because they love their brother.
You stand before God: ask your own heart, look at what you did
and why you did it: was it for the empty praise of men? Look at
your heart, because you cannot judge what you do not see.
So, beloved, let us search our hearts in God's presence: you can
hide from man but not from God.
Flee to God himself if you want to run away from him; flee by
confessing, not by hiding; say to Him, 'You are my refuge', and so
let the love which alone brings life, grow within you.
St Augustine of Hippo. (354-430AD)
As a man you are destined to die. Put it off as long as you like,
thing so long delayed will come at last.
There is, however, another death, from which the Lord came to
deliver us: eternal death, the death of damnation with the devil
and his angels. That is the real death; the other is only a change,
the leaving of the body.
Do not fear this kind, but be frightened of the other, and labour to
in such a way that after death you may live with God.
Remember that Antichrists are not only to be found among those
who have gone away from us, but among many who are still in the
Church. The perjurer, the adulterer, the drunkard, the trafficker in
They will say, ‘But He made us like this’. Our Creator cries out
from Heaven, ‘I made the man; not the thief, the adulterer, the
miser: all that moves in the sea, flies in the air, or walks on the
earth is my work, and sings my praise’. But does avarice praise
the Lord, or drunkenness, or impurity? Anything that does not
praise Him was not made by Him.
St Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)
today and gone tomorrow
Wherever the soul of man turns, unless it turns to You, it clasps
sorrow to its heart. Even if it clings to what is lovely, if this
loveliness is outside God, it has clung to sorrow, for these
beautiful things would not exist without You. Like the sun, they
rise and set: they have their beginning and then they grow old and
Let me praise You for these things, my God who made them all,
do not let the love of them be like glue to fix them to my soul.
In these things there is nowhere to rest, because they do not last,
they pass away beyond the reach of our senses. Indeed, we cannot
firm hold on them even when they are with us.
In this world one thing passes away, and another takes its place.
But does the Word of God pass away? Make your dwelling in
Him. Entrust to Him whatever you have, for all you possess is
from Him. In Him is the peace that cannot be disturbed, and He
will not withhold Himself from your love if you do not withhold
your love from Him.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD)
(ack. The Joy of the Saints – Spiritual Readings throughout the year.
Edited by Robert Llewelyn. Published 1988 by Darton, Longman,
and Todd, London. - a selection of writings from both Catholic and Protestant sources)