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astaugustineToday we speak of St. Augustine, the son of St. Monica for whose conversion she spent her life praying. (See yesterday’s post) Sometimes conversion is such a turnaround that one can only call the about-face a “fierce” change. (See www.franciscanmedia.org – saint of the day) Augustine became a rigorous defender of the faith at a time of decadence which gave him a reputation for “fundamental rigorism.” Such was my impression in my younger days. I was surprised somewhat later to find a more gentle, beautifully expressed side of the man as he wrote of his relationship with God. Here is my favorite example of such a deep and meaningful encounter.

Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient yet new; late have I loved you. Lo, you were within, but I outside, seeking there for you, and upon the shapely things you have made I rushed headlong, I, misshapen. You were with me but I was not with you. They held me back far from you, those things which would have no being were they not in you. You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, banished my blindness; you lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I pant for you; I tasted you, now I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and now I burn for your peace. (Confessions, x.27)