Too late loved I thee

St Augustine (28 Aug.) From the Confessions of St Augustine, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

Being admonished to return to myself, I entered even into my inward self, thou being my Guide: and able I was, for thou wert become my Helper.  And I entered and beheld with the eye of my soul (such as it was), above the same eye of my soul, above my mind, the Light Unchangeable.  Not this ordinary light, which all flesh may look upon, nor as it were a greater of the same kind, as though the brightness of this should be manifold brighter, and with its greatness take up all space.  Not such was this light, but other, yea, far other from these.  Nor was it above my soul, as oil is above water, nor yet as heaven above earth: but above to my soul, because It made me; and I below It, because I was made by It.  He that knows the Truth, knows what that Light is; and he that knows It, knows eternity.  Love knows it.

O Truth who art Eternity! and Love who art Truth! and Eternity who art Love!  Thou art my God, to thee do I sigh night and day.  Thee when I first knew, thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was what I might see, and that I was not yet such as to see.  And thou didst beat back the weakness of my sight, streaming forth thy beams of light upon me most strongly, and I trembled with love and awe: and I perceived myself to be far off from thee, in the region of unlikeness, as if I heard this thy voicefrom on high: “I am the food of grown men, grow, and thou shalt feed upon me; nor shalt thou convert me, like the food of thy flesh into thee, but thou shalt be converted into me.”  Then I sought a way of obtaining strength sufficient to enjoy thee; and found it not, until I embraced that Mediator betwixt God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who is over all, God blessed for evermore, calling unto me, and saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, and mingling that food which I was unable to receive, with our flesh. For, “the Word was made flesh”, that thy wisdom, whereby thou createdst all things, might provide milk for our infant state.

Too late loved I thee, O thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! too late I loved thee!  And behold, thou wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which thou hadst made.  Thou wert with me, but I was not with thee.  Things held me far from thee, which, unless they were in thee, were not at all.  Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstest my deafness.  Thou flashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my blindness.  Thou breathedst odours, and I drew in breath and panted for Thee. I tasted, and hunger and thirst.  Thou touchedst me, and I burned for thy peace.

Responsory.  I give thanks || who hath strengthened me, even to Christ Jesus our Lord, * For that he hath counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry, who before was a blasphemer.  V. By the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void. * For that he ... Glory be ... For that he …