Monday, May 27, 2013

For Love of Your Love, O Lord, I Recall the Chains from which You Released Me

Recently I read sections 1 and 2 of book 2 of Augustin's Confessions as part of my "devotional" reading. And this portion carries me back to the sins of my youth as so much of what Augustin recalls recalls for me what I don't recall so well left to myself. It felt like a wave breaking over my life that carried up from my past onto the shore of my present the evils from which God has wondrously now rescued me for almost longer than I was immersed in the mire of sin. I'm exceedingly grateful to God and moved with "love of [his] love."

Here are portions of the portions that move me so deeply:
I must now carry my thoughts back to the abominable things I did in those days, the sins of the flesh that defiled my soul. I do this, my God, not because I love those sins, but so that I may love you. For love of your love I shall retrace my wicked ways. The memory is bitter, but it will help me to savor your sweetness, the sweetness that does not deceive but brings real joy and never fails. For love of your love I shall retrieve myself from the havoc of disruption that tore me to pieces when I turned away from you, whom alone I should have sought, and lost myself instead on many a different quest. For as I grew to manhood I was inflamed with desire for a surfeit of hell's pleasures. Foolhardy as I was, I ran wild with lust that was manifold and rank. In your eyes my beauty vanished and I was foul to the core, yet I was pleased with my own condition and anxious to be pleasing in the eyes of men.  
I cared for nothing but to love and be loved. But my love went beyond the affection of one mind for another, beyond the arc of the bright beam of friendship. Bodily desire, like a morass, and adolescent sex welling up within me exuded mists that clouded over and obscured my heart, so that I could not distinguish the clear light of true love from the murk of lust. Love and lust together seethed within me. In my tender youth they swept me away over the precipice of my body's appetites and plunged me in the whirlpool of sin. More and more I angered you, unawares. For I had been deafened by the clank of my chains, the fetters of the death that was my due to punish the pride in my soul. I strayed still further from you and you did not restrain me. I was tossed and spilled, floundering in the broiling sea of my fornication, and you said no word. How long it was before I learned that you were my true joy! You were silent then, and I went on my way, further and further from you, proud in my distress and restless in fatigue, sowing more and more seeds whose only crop was grief.
—Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 4344.

No comments:

Post a Comment