Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
If you look at the greatest movies of all time, they are usually stories of adventure, success, and romance. This reveals to us something about the human heart. St. Augustine of Hippo, the great Church Father, once said, “To seek God is the greatest adventure, to find God is the greatest success and to fall in love with God is the greatest romance.”
As Catholics, we care about truth, for Jesus reveals Himself as the way, the truth, and the life. Our world around us also cares about truth. The search for truth is our common meeting place with the searching hearts of today.
St. Augustine is arguably one of the most influential thinkers in the Western world. Raised by a Catholic mother, Monica, he resisted the Catholic faith as a young man because he found it untrue or against the popular reasonableness of the time. He searched as a young man for truth and for a fulfilling way of life. He tried out many different philosophies and approaches to life and found them wanting.
He retells his conversion and coming to faith in his work, The Confessions. One of his most famous lines from The Confessions is, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” It wasn’t any argument or proof that changed his heart, but God’s grace.
Augustine recounts his conversion and how he was sitting in a garden pondering the truth of the Catholic faith. He heard childlike voices urging him to “pick up and read” the Bible. The voices were relentless and he picked up and read. His heart was set aflame and he cried the renewing tears of the Holy Spirit. The patient prayers and guidance of his mother, St. Monica, and St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, helped Augustine encounter the transforming power of God’s grace.
Augustine’s conversion to the Catholic faith was not a mere change of affiliation, but a radical transformation of his entire being. His encounter with the Word of God, Jesus Christ, touched the deepest recesses of his heart and compelled him to surrender his life completely to God. Augustine’s conversion was a turning point that shaped his understanding of truth. In his conversion, he saw that some truths can only be learned when one becomes a disciple of Jesus, Truth itself.
As we reflect on the life of St. Augustine, whose memorial we celebrate later this month, we are reminded of the relevance and urgency of being Jesus’ disciples too. Like Augustine, the world around us is searching for truth, ways of believing, and living that fulfill the heart. He is a reminder that God goes before us in the work of making disciples. All we have to do is share Jesus’ name and work in our lives with others. This is the simple work of evangelization.
Abide in Christ and build His Kingdom by making disciples. Who knows — you might be the next St. Ambrose to St. Augustine in a hurting world that desperately needs the truth of God.
In His Mercy,
Fr. Eric Clark,