Augustine on Prayer

The Office of Readings the last few days has had excerpts from Augustine’s letter to Proba, “a Devoted Handmaid of God.” Today’s appears to be from Chapter 14, ttp://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102130.htm . Here’s a Wikipedia entry about her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anicia_Faltonia_Proba. It is wonderful that we have some letters of Augustine to this Christian lady.

All of Chapter 14 of the letter is excellent. This paragraph follows what is excerpted in today’s reading:

But whoever desires from the Lord that “one thing,” and seeks after it, asks in certainty and in confidence, and has no fear lest when obtained it be injurious to him, seeing that, without it, anything else which he may have obtained by asking in a right way is of no advantage to him. The thing referred to is the one true and only happy life, in which, immortal and incorruptible in body and spirit, we may contemplate the joy of the Lord for ever. All other things are desired, and are without impropriety prayed for, with a view to this one thing. For whosoever has it shall have all that he wishes, and cannot possibly wish to have anything along with it which would be unbecoming.

For in it is the fountain of life, which we must now thirst for in prayer so long as we live in hope, not yet seeing that which we hope for, trusting under the shadow of His wings before whom are all our desires, that we may be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of His house, and made to drink of the river of His pleasures; because with Him is the fountain of life, and in His light we shall see light, when our desire shall be satisfied with good things, and when there shall be nothing beyond to be sought after with groaning, but all things shall be possessed by us with rejoicing.

At the same time, because this blessing is nothing else than the “peace which passes all understanding,” [Philippians 4:7] even when we are asking it in our prayers, we know not what to pray for as we ought. For inasmuch as we cannot present it to our minds as it really is, we do not know it, but whatever image of it may be presented to our minds we reject, disown, and condemn; we know it is not what we are seeking, although we do not yet know enough to be able to define what we seek.

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