Today is the feast day of Saint Augustine of Hippo, famed even among the heathens who surround us for his famous exclamation: Make me pure, Lord – but not yet!
I am sure many of us can understand this position.
In the City of London is a small street called Austin Friars. It takes its name from the Augustinian Friary that was established there until its dissolution in 1538 – on the orders of Thomas Cromwell ( who leased a property on the land, interestingly enough). Dissolution in another sense played a part in the Friary’s fortunes: it was famed for “neglect of services, drinking of alcohol, dining alone and the lack of any adherence to monastic rules” (source). Sounds quite normal for the times, to be fair.
But, for all, of us, there is redemption, fresh starts, pastures new. Here speaks Augustine in a prayer of love, worship and regret:
Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so 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, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.