St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) was one of the greatest intellects of the early Christian church. But before he became a saint, he was a sinner. His parents sent him off to study in Carthage in North Africa, then a large city, and he became a degenerate and a woman bore him a child when he was 18 years old. Eventually he was converted to Christianity along with his son and they were both baptized in 387 when he was 33 years old. He then became a priest and established a monastery and became one of the most eloquent and effective supporters of the faith. His style of writing was rather unique for his age as he examined his own personality, his own behavior and experiences, in order to understand the relationship between himself and his God. Many followed this style after he set this example.
If you are going to understand God, then I know of no better way to seek such understanding than through a careful and unflinching examination of your own behavior and life experiences. St. Augustine gave us a great example, may we willingly and forcefully follow it.
The following two quotes are by St. Augustine:
He is Thy best servant who does not so much look to hear that from Thee which he himself wisheth, as to wish that which he heareth from Thee.
So, avoid trying to pray and wish for things for yourself. Instead you should want what God is offering. You should welcome God’s desires for your heart. What you hear him tell you, literally and figuratively, is what should be your fondest desires. That is not easy, especially in our obsessively possession focused society that we have helped to create. This is a powerful challenge to you. But, what is the payoff? What do we get in return? Sure, we all know that heaven awaits the devoted believer; but do we get anything in the here-and-now? Is it all endless delayed gratification until after death? I think not, and neither does St. Augustine.
When I shall cleave unto Thee with all my being, then shall I in nothing have pain and labor; and my life shall be a real life, being wholly full of Thee.
Wow! What a wonderful reward in this life! No pain, lots of gain. No labor, lots of meaningful work. Instead of a dull, repetitious, meaningless existence; you are able to have a real life because God fills up your soul with glorious feelings and power.
It really does work this way. Mind you, it takes discipline, it takes positive habit creating effort---especially at the beginning, but over time, like any skill you develop, it comes ever more easily. It is like the Buddha’s Eight Fold Path, if you do these things, then a wondrous payoff comes to you as St. Augustine understood.
The only question, Are you ready to change your life? Are you ready to become a more disciplined, responsible, caring, loving, focused person?