There is a saying that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. The human condition is such that the journey of life will often go through periods of darkness and desolation. Whether it is the cruelty of a modern economy where the dignity of the individual and the family are often neglected or having to go through the loneliness of unemployment or a family breakup. Some of us have to contend with physical struggles owing to our genetic make-up. All of us are born with certain pre-dispositions or natural tendencies.
These tendencies can lead us to do great good but they can also obscure the imago Dei in which we are all made. Some are born with pre-dispositions to certain substances, to alcohol, to irrational sexual impulses etc. Both the nature and nurture of the human condition often test the fidelity of the human spirit to the true, the good and the beautiful.
St Augustine of Hippo
St Augustine of Hippo was a young man who tried finding truth, goodness and beauty but in the wrong places. Living a hedonistic life and filled with pride, his mind and heart were darkened to Divine Truth. “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all” he would later write.
The unfailing and persevering prayers of his mother enabled the light of divine grace to penetrate his heart to accept the grace of conversion and the waters of baptism. “You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness: You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
The story of St Augustine is one where the light of truth has indeed broken through the darkness of sin and depression. This light made him realise that the good things of creation are given us as means to achieve the ultimate good, namely, the ravishing vision of the face of God. St Augustine, realising this, would pray: You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
The human is everyday searching. Sometimes, it is enveloped into the aridity of addiction. Addiction whether to sex, drugs, alcohol etc. is a sign that the human heart has a hole which only happiness can fill. Yet, that hole is a God-shaped hole. The man who knocks at the prostitute’s door, says G.K. Chesterton, is looking for God. God is the only thing worthy of addiction because the wholeness of human happiness can only be found in a life of holiness, a life of charity which unites one to the ecstatic vision of God’s face, a vision that dissipates the darkness and bring us into the eternal light of that truth, beauty and goodness which radiates from the face Christ to whom be the glory, the power, and the praise forever and ever. Amen.
Fr Thomas Azzi OP
Provincial Bursar | Master of Students | Provincial Vocations Coordinator
Order of Preachers (Dominicans)