Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Augustine, my Augustine!

I couldn't let the day close without saying something about the specialness of it: the feast day of St. Augustine.

My first knowledge of Augustin came by way of reading T. S. Elliot's Waste Land, the famous line "To Carthage then I came," an enigmatic quote from the saint's monumental autobiography Confessions: “to Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves sang all about mine ears.”

Still a pagan, while reading Elliot's footnotes I was struck by the amount of Christian-themed allusions and quotes used in the poem. Something about the reference to Carthage and the hidden figure of the Bishop of Hippo intrigued me. I wanted to know more about Augustine but I put off the research. Then, right in the middle of my obsession with Elliot, a family tragedy hit. 

It was to be a trigger to set off many things. Timeline of closely-followed events remains jumbled to me to this day. Everything seemed to have been moving along a crudely edited reel, un-comprehended yet every pixel magnified by tears. Time collapsed and warped. Amidst the days of chaos I was shuffled down into a strange tunnel. 

By the time I came out of the "tunnel," I did not know who I was but could not bear any longer being my own stranger. I was ravenous for a new knowledge. I resorted to books, to minds more solid than mine. I bought the Confessions and devoured it whole. There was much indigestion but it didn't matter: I was famished for truth. 

When I came to the line "God, you have made us for yourself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee," I knew what had hitherto been the root of all my doomed self-love and neurosis and illnesses. To have met that line was like to have met a song that had been in my heart all along but somehow was lost. Augustine did not give me something new, he simply awakened the deepest secret I had suppressed with unconscious fear and willful ignorance. 

I almost chose Augustine to be my patron at baptism, instead I picked St. Therese. Augustine was almost too big, too brilliant. By that time I sensed an acute need for approaching holiness by the Little Ways, the ways of Therese. Therese is doing fine for me. But Augustine will always be my prince, one who speaks heart to heart, one forever directs my eyes upward. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.