Confessions Book Club: That Rest I Long for
The Confessions of St. Augustine (Week 2 of 15)
I was all ready to admit that, though I’ve always wanted to read this great spiritual classic, that I was mostly disappointed by this first section.
I had already written half a post about how dull and wrong I found Augustine’s observations about babies (and I am very much in the thick of things with an infant right now), about how underwhelming I found his overall approach, and how uninspired I was.
And then I flipped through the section and this paragraph jumped out at me:
Who will enable me to find rest in you? Who will grant me that you come to my heart and intoxicate it, so that I forget my evils and embrace my one and only good, yourself? What are you to me? Have mercy so that I may find words. What am I to you that you command me to love you, and that, if I fail to love you, you are angry with me and threaten me with vast miseries? If I do not love you, is that but a little misery? What a wretch I am! In your mercies, Lord God, tell me what you are to me. ‘Say to my soul, I am your salvation’ (Ps. 34:3). Speak to me so that I may hear. See the ears of my heart are before you, Lord. Open them and ‘say to my soul, I am your salvation.’ After that utterance I will run and lay hold on you. Do not hide your face from me (cf. Ps. 26:9). Lest I die, let me die so that I may see it.
Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 5
It was a total “Yeah, and he’s a Doctor of the Church for a reason, isn’t he?” moment for me.
Rest isn’t something I’m getting a lot of these days. Life with an infant isn’t restful; life when the kids are fresh out of school for the summer also isn’t restful. But lately, my soul hasn’t been restful either. I have a certain discomfort about me, a kind of mental exhaustion combined with something else.
And it struck me, as I read this, what that something else is.
I’m overdue for confession.
For over three years, I’ve failed at my goal to go to confession monthly. I have no problem telling others about the many benefits of such a practice, of even sharing my own wonderful experiences with confession. And yet, somehow, I never seem to manage to get there…
There are plenty of “reasons,” quite a few excuses, and no shortage of retorts. The main reason I keep trying to go monthly, though, is what I’m experiencing now: a lack of inner rest.
My life won’t be restful on the outside for quite a few more years. (Or maybe it will. I’m operating on a hunch, however, that with four kids 10 and under and a full plate of work, I’m going to keep hoppin’ for a while.)
That makes it even more important for that inner calm and peace, that rest that Augustine alludes to. Who will enable me to find rest in God? God himself…but only if I let him.
Books Two and Three
1. Did you relate with Augustine’s chronicle of his infancy? What about this section struck you and made you do a double-take?
2. How do you seek rest? Where do you find it? What can you do this week to insert heavenly rest into your soul?
Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!
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