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AUGUSTINE (354-430). A formative force in Christendom for far more than a thousand years, the Bishop of Hippo’s autobiographical Confessions is a classic prayer of personal penitence and rejoicing.
OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS
Everlasting God, in whom we live and move and have our being: You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
Dear God, I seek to know You, to love You, to rejoice in You. If I cannot do these perfectly, may I at least advance to higher degrees each day until I come more nearly to approach perfection. God of truth, may my knowledge of You increase; may my love of You grow every day more and more; may my joy in You become full.
FIRE AND LIGHT
O Fire that always burns, and never goes out, kindle me!
O Light which ever shines, illuminate me!
O God, the deathless hope of all, we rejoice that You support us both when little and even to gray hairs. When our strength is of You, it is strength indeed; but when our own only, it is feebleness. With You are refreshment and true strength.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
O God, the Light of the heart that sees You,
The Life of the soul that loves You,
The Strength of the mind that seeks You:
May I ever continue to be steadfast in Your love.
Be the joy of my heart;
Take all of me to Yourself, and abide therein.
The house of my soul is, I confess, too narrow for You.
Enlarge it that You may enter.
It is ruinous, but do repair it.
It has within it what must offend Your eyes;
I confess and know it,
But whose help shall I seek in cleansing it but Yours alone?
To You, O God, I cry urgently.
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep me from false pride and sensuality
That they not get dominion over me.
O Love of God, descend into my heart;
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling,
And scatter there Your cheerful beams.
Dwell in the soul that longs to be Your temple;
Water that barren soil overrun with weeds and briars
And lost for lack of cultivating.
Make it fruitful with Your dew.
Come, dear Refreshment of those who languish;
Come, Star and Guide of those who sail amidst tempests.
You are the Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked.
Come now, Glory and Crown of the living,
As well as the Safeguard of the dying.
Come, Sacred Spirit;
Come, and make me fit to receive You.
YOU ARE OUR LIFE
O God, who so cares for every one of us as if You cared for each one alone; and so for all, as if all were but as one. You are the Life of our lives. You are constant through all change. Blessed are all who love You.
WE SEEK YOU
O my God, Light of the blind and Strength of the weak; yes, also Light of those that see and Strength of the strong: we turn and seek You, for we know You are here in our hearts when we converse with You; when we cast ourselves upon You; when we weep, and You do gently wipe away our tears, and also when we weep for joy because You who made us does remake and comfort us. Grant that we may entirely love You, even unto the end.
Thanks be to You, O Creator and Governor of the universe, for my well-being through the years since I arrived at birth. Thanks be to You, my joy, my confidence, my God, for the gifts by which You have preserved me and enabled me to grow.
Too late came I to love You, O Beauty both ancient and ever new; too late came I to love You. Behold! you were within me, and I was out of myself searching for You. You, indeed, were with me, but I was not with You. You called to me; yes, You even broke open my deafness. Your beams shined unto me and cast away my blindness. You blew upon me, and I drew in my breath and panted after You. I tasted You, and now I hunger and thirst for You. You touched me, and I ever burn again to enjoy Your peace.