NIGHT PRAYER: Monday 8/28

Augustine (whose feast is today) is the patron saint of those named Austin and that's why Augustine merits a double appearance on my blog today! From his classic books and inspired homilies, his words of wisdom and prayer are still with us.  One such well known piece is the subject of tonight's prayer:

Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new:
    late have I loved you. 
And see, you were within 
    and I was in the external world and sought you there, 
and in my unlovely state I plunged 
    into those lovely created things which you made. 
You were with me, and I was not with you. 
The lovely things kept me far from you, 
    though if they did not have their existence in you, 
        they had no existence at all. 
You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. 
You were radiant and resplendent, 
    you put to flight my blindness. 
You were fragrant, 
    and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. 
I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. 
You touched me, 
    and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.
       - from The Confessions, book 10, chapter 27, Henry Chadwick translation
At first glance, the words of Augustine's prayer may seem too much: too pious, too poetic, too romantic.  But his words capture the experience all of us have in responding to God's love through the years, the decades of our lives:  seeking God, avoiding God, missing God, finding God...  Spend a little time with Augustine's words and you'll find yourself in his prayer...
 Augustine prayed, Late have I loved you...
    but he knew that it's never too late:
        It's never too late to love God... 
        It's never too late to look for God...
        It's never too late to tell God I'm sorry...
        It's never too late to come back to God...
        It's never too late to discover
            how great is God's love me... 
        It's never too late to love God...

Here's a beautiful musical setting (from Schola Ministries) of Augustine's Late have I loved Thee (translated and composed by Kathleen Deignan.
Sero Te Amvi
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(The first three lines, in Latin, find their translation in the fourth and fifth.)
Sero te amavi,
pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova.
Sero te amavi!

    Late have I loved Thee,
    O Beauty ever ancient, ever new!

I was searching all around me; You were all within.
I grasped at your beauty everywhere
and longed to have and hold what can but be beheld.
Sero te amavi!

You attracted, I, distracted, did not see
the Giver of all gifts was gracing me.
Sero te amavi!

You called, you shouted – piercing through my deafness;
You flashed, you shone – dispelling all my blindness.
Sero te amavi!

You breathed your fragrance on me,
I drew my breath and now I am breathless for Thee.
I tasted your sweetness and now I am famished for You –
You touched me; now I am burning for your peace.
Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new!
I was searching all around me; You were all within.
Sero te amavi! Vero te amavi…
With Augustine, let us ask the Lord 
    to call, to shout, to pierce our deafness; 
    to flash, to shine, to dispel our blindness; 
    to breathe in us and in our hearts; 
    to touch our lives with his love 
        - that we might come to love him...

And remember: it's never too late!

Protect us, Lord, while we're awake
    and watch over us while we sleep
that awake, we might keep watch with you
    and asleep, rest in your peace...




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