August 28, 2013

Within or Without


1st Thessalonians 2:9-13

Today, the Church celebrates the life of Saint Augustine, one of the greatest saints within the history of the Church. Augustine Aurelius was born in November of 354 in a small town in Northern Africa. After leaving home at the age of 17, Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for the next 14 years: he chased pagan philosophy, philandering his way through the schools of Europe while fathering his own child. Simply, Augustine embodied all that is the story of the Prodigal Son. However, much to the intercession of his mother Monica, Augustine had a life-changing conversion in his early 30's. He went on to be one of the greatest theologians and bishops of the past 2,000 years.

As Saint Augustine chronicles his conversion in his great work Confessions. There, he writes: "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was without, and it was there that I searched for you. ... You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. ... I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

Saint Augustine tells us that his whole life was focused without: his entire focus of life was on things outside of him ... the "world", the pursuit of pleasure, the relentless thirst for "more". Yet, God was within nudging at his heart ... inviting Augustine into the very peace he longed for. It was within Augustine that he found God speaking to him.

Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. is famous for asking us: "When you look at the culture you and I live in, do you think most people live within or without?" We, like Augustine, live in a world frenetically consumed with without. From iPods to texting to smartphones we are constantly tempted to occupy our time doing something, listening to something, or distracting ourselves with something. Pope Benedict XVI once said: "The world in its frenetic activism often looses its direction. Its action and capacities become destructive if they lack the power of prayer, from which the waters of life irrigate the arid land." Life feels frenetic when we only live without. If we only live without we get tired, lives grows ever empty, and life "looses its direction."

Hmmmmmm ... when you look at Augustine's words, ask yourself: do you live more within or without? 

We, like Augustine, also yearn for God. The Catechism states: "Man is in search of God. In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence. All religions bear witness to man’s essential search for God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2566)

We want God ... and God, just like He did with Augustine, is calling us from within.

What would have happened if Augustine would not have paid attention to the stirrings within him? What would have happened if the first Apostles would not have paid attention to the longings "for more" within him? What would have happened in my life if I would have not listened to the voice of God within me?

Slow down today. Turn off the radio. Don't turn on the TV. Shut off the computer. Shhhhhhhh ... listen ... within ... how is God calling you?

Deep within ... very deep within ... what do you really want?


Let's start preparing for Mass this weekend. Click here to read the readings that we'll hear at Mass this weekendFirst: read all the readings slowly. Pay attention to the story, the context. Secondly: read the readings again, a second time ... read them even slower. Pay attention to what word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Finally: read the reading that contains the word or phrase grabs your attention or tugs at your heart. Read it really slow. Pay attention to your heart. Now ... talk to God about what stirred within. Talk to Him about the word or phrase grabbed your attention or tugged at your heart.


"[Many] seem to want to fill every empty moment with music and images, out of fear of feeling this very emptiness. This is a trend that has always existed, especially among the young and in the more developed urban contexts but today it has reached a level such as to give rise to talk about anthropological mutation. Some people are no longer able to remain for long periods in silence and solitude."
― Pope Benedict XVI, October 9, 2011