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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Looking for God in all the wrong places

Looking for God in all the wrong places

The following article is entitled “Within” by Kristin Niedbala. With her permission I would like to share her insight with you.

St. Augustine remains one of the greatest saints in the history of the Catholic Church. He was born in a small town in Northern Africa, merely 300 after Jesus’ death. After leaving home at the age of 17, Augustine lived a narcissistic lifestyle for the next 14 years – he chased pagan philosophy, philandering his way through the schools of Europe, even fathering his own child.

Augustine embodied all that is the story of the Prodigal Son. However, through 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.

Augustine chronicled 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.”

Augustine tells us that his whole life was focused on exterior things. His entire focal point of life was on things outside him – the “world,” the pursuit of pleasure, the relentless thirst for “more.” Yet, God was within nudging at his heart, inviting him into the very peace for which he longed. It was within Augustine that he found God speaking to him.

Writer and retreat director Fr. Timothy Gallagher is famous for asking us, “When you look at the culture that you and I live in, do you think most people live within or without?” We, like Augustine, live in a world frenetically consumed with the outside. From iPods to texting to smart phones, 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 loses 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 from without. If we only live from without, we get tired, lives grow ever empty, and life “loses its direction.”

When you look at Augustine’s words, ask yourself, “Do you live more within or without?”

We, like Augustine, yearn for God. We are constantly searching for God. In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. We are made after the image and likeness of our Creator, and we retain that desire for the one who calls us into existence.

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 stirring within him? What would have happened if the first Apostles would not have paid attention to the longings “for more” within them? What would have happened in my life if I had 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. In the quiet, listen to the voice within. How is God calling you?

Deep within, very deep within, God is within you. What are the things that challenge you to live “within?” As you reflect upon your patterns, how and when do you notice God calling you to deeper life from “within”. What is your resistance to that invitation to come “within?”