This is an excerpt of a general audience address from Pope Benedict XVI in August 2010.
St Augustine was a man who never lived superficially; his thirst, his restless and constant thirst for the Truth is one of the basic characteristics of his existence; not however for “pseudo-truths”, incapable of giving the heart lasting peace, but of that Truth that gives meaning to life and is the “dwelling-place” in which the heart finds serenity and joy. As we know, his was a far from easy journey: he thought he had found the Truth in prestige, in his career, in the possession of things, in the voices that promised him instant happiness; he committed faults, he experienced sorrows, he faced failures but he never stopped, he was never content with what only gave him a glimmer of light. He was able to look into the depths of his being and realized, as he wrote in Confessions, that the Truth, the God whom he sought with his own efforts was closer to him than he himself, that God had always been beside him, had never abandoned him, was waiting to be able to enter his life once and for all (cf. III, 6, 11; X, 27, 38). As I said in a comment on the film made recently about his life, St Augustine, in his restless seeking realized that it was not he who had found the Truth but that the Truth, who is God, had come after him and found him. Romano Guardini, commenting on a passage in the third chapter ofConfessions said: “St Augustine understood that God is the “glory that brings us to our knees, drink that quenches our thirst, treasure that gives happiness… [he had] the pacifying certainty of those who have understood at last, but also the bliss of the love that knows: “this is everything and it is enough for me” (Pensatori religiosi, Brescia 2001, p. 177).
Again, in Confessions, in the ninth book, our Saint records a conversation with his mother, St Monica, whose Memorial is celebrated on Friday, the day after tomorrow. It is a very beautiful scene: he and his mother are at Ostia, at an inn, and from the window they see the sky and the sea, and they transcend the sky and the sea and for a moment touch God’s heart in the silence of created beings. And here a fundamental idea appears on the way towards the Truth: creatures must be silent, leaving space for the silence in which God can speak. This is still true in our day too. At times there is a sort of fear of silence, of recollection, of thinking of one’s own actions, of the profound meaning of one’s life. All too often people prefer to live only the fleeting moment, deceiving themselves that it will bring lasting happiness; they prefer to live superficially, without thinking, because it seems easier; they are afraid to seek the Truth or perhaps afraid that the Truth will find us, will take hold of us and change our life, as happened to St Augustine.
Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to say to all of you and also to those who are passing through a difficult moment in their journey of faith, to those who take little part in the life of the Church or who live “as though God did not exist” not to be afraid of the Truth, never to interrupt the journey towards it and never to stop searching for the profound truth about yourselves and other things with the inner eye of the heart. God will not fail to provide Light to see by and Warmth to make the heart feel that he loves us and wants to be loved.
May the intercession of the Virgin Mary, of St Augustine and of St Monica accompany us on this journey