You Have Made us for Yourself

You are great, O Lord, and to be praised indeed: great is your power, and your wisdom is beyond reckoning. And man, a mere part of your creation, desires to praise you, man, who bears his mortality about with him, and the testimony of his sin, and testimony that you resist the proud; and still this man, this part of your creation, desires to praise you. You rouse him up to take delight in praising you for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you. 

Lord, give me to know and to understand which comes first, to call upon you or to praise you, to know you or to call upon you? But who could call upon you without knowing you? For without knowing it, he might call upon another instead of you. Or rather must you be called upon, to be known? But how can they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how can they come to believe, without a preacher? And more: They shall praise the Lord who seek him, for they who seek him shall find him, and they who find shall praise him. I shall seek after you, O Lord, as I call upon you, and I shall call upon you, believing in you; for you have been preached to us. My faith calls upon you, Lord, the faith you have given to me and breathed in me by the humanity of your Son, through the ministry of your preacher.

And how shall I call upon my God, my Lord and God, seeing as when I invoke him, I seem to invoke him into myself? For what place is there in me, where my God might enter? What place for God to enter, God who made heaven and earth? My Lord God, is it so? Is there anything in me that can contain you? Why, even the heavens and the earth you have made, wherein you have made me—can even they contain you? Or is it this way: because without you nothing that is could ever have come to be, it follows that whatever does exist must contain you? I too exist, and so what do I beg for when I ask you to enter me, when I would not exist in the first place unless you were in me already? For I am not in the nether world, and yet you are there too. And “even if I should descend to the world below, you would be present there.”

So, my God, I could not be, I could not be in the slightest, unless you were in me. Or is it rather that I would not be, unless I were in you, from whom and through whom and in whom all things are? This too, this too, O Lord. But if I am in you, why do I call upon you? From what place can you enter into me? Where can I go beyond heaven and earth, so that my God can enter into me from there, my God, who has said, “I fill heaven and earth”?

Who shall give me the gift, to take my rest in you? Who shall give me the gift, that you may enter my heart and so fill it with drink, that I may forget all my ills and embrace you, my only good? What are you to me? Have pity on me, that I may speak. What can I possibly be to you, that you command me to love you, and if I do not do so, you grow angry and threaten me with mighty sorrows? Is it then by itself only a little sorrow, if I should not love you? Ah me, tell me, my Lord God, in your mercy tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul: “I am your salvation.” Say it aloud, so that I may hear. Behold, O Lord, the ears of my heart are before you; open them, and say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” I shall run after that voice, I shall take hold of you. Hide not your face from me! Let me die to see it, lest I die.

This article is taken from a chapter in Confessions by Saint Augustine, which is available from TAN Books.

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