August 28, 2022 – St. Augustine, “Our hearts are restless…”

In my first semester of my freshmen year at Loras college, I took a class where we were assigned to read a book titled, “The Confessions” by a guy named St. Augustine.

I literally knew nothing about him, nor about this book.

Yet there was a line from the very first page of this book that impacted and directed the rest of my journey in college:

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You…”

The book, “The Confessions,” is significant not only because it is one of the first “autobiographies” ever written, but also it has become one of the “spiritual classics” of our Catholic Christian faith.  In this book St. Augustine tells his life story, with a particular focus on his spiritual journey.  He went from being a successful, but very worldly young man, to realizing that nothing of this world could ultimately satisfy the deepest yearnings and longings in his heart.  It was only in the God of Christianity, in the Lord Jesus Christ, that Augustine finally found the answer, the fulfillment, to the deepest yearning in his heart.

The professor of our class spoke at length how this single line at the beginning of this book summarized Augustine’s whole journey.  “…our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Looking back I realized how providential it was that I began my college journey with this line from St. Augustine.  As I wrestled with questions of my own identity and place in the world, of what I was supposed to do with my life; as I learned much about the problems of the world, as I wrestled with questions of poverty and social justice, of seeking what is truly good, and what is true, I kept coming back to the line of St. Augustine that I found to be ever more true:

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You…”

As I watched as some of my friends gradually lose their faith as they wrestled with questions of science or learned about oppression and injustice in the world, I found myself moving the opposite direction when wrestling with the same questions.  I found that time and again that the secular answers of the world failed to ultimately satisfy, and I became ever more convinced that answers to the deepest questions were somehow bound up in God; in the God who became Incarnate and died on the Cross.  That our hearts remain restless in response to these questions, until we rest our hearts in God.

I probably owe much more that I realize to that line of St. Augustine in helping me on my spiritual journey that led me deeper into faith and eventually priesthood.  All because several centuries ago, in another time and place a guy wrestled with many of the same questions we all face, and with his gift of words, wrote down his journey and story.

And I’m sure he would have no idea that several centuries later, on another continent, that his musings and reflections about his own life would affect the course of life of a young man inspiring him in the midst of an ever more secularized culture and society, to more fully pursue and seek God as the answer to the restlessness in his own heart, and leading him down the path of priesthood.


-Fr. Kevin

PS: St. Augustine’s Feast day is August 28th.  His book “The Confessions” is a spiritual classic that is worth a read at some point in your life (though it may help to get a good translation, and edition with helpful footnotes, etc.).