Nativity Prayer of St Augustine Let the just rejoice, for their Justifier is born. Let the sick and infirm rejoice, for their Savior is born. Let the captives rejoice, for their Redeemer is born. Let slaves rejoice, for their Master is born. Let free men rejoice, for their Liberator is born. Let all Christians rejoice, for Jesus Christ is born. ~St Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)
The Augustinian Province of England & Scotland initiated two years ago a program of online retreats for Advent and Lent, and created a new community on Hozana, a Christian social media platform for prayer.
Their goal is to share the Augustinian charism of Interiority.
Augustine of Hippo grew up in North Africa, in the remote part of the Roman Empire that is now Algeria. His mother Monica was a Christian. His father, Patricius, a pagan.
Augustine had a restless and troubled youth and from his late teens spent many fruitless years searching for truth, happiness, and fulfillment. When he was about 33, after much mental torment and uncertainty, he made the life-changing discovery that what he was seeking could be found by seeking within himself.
All we need to guide us, he realized, is to be found in our own hearts. There, in the depths of our being, are truth and goodness, and love. And these are to be found there because the source of all life is within, the God who has made his home in us.
Augustine records this breakthrough in his Confessions. “You were there before my eyes,” he proclaims, “but I had deserted even my own self, and I did not find the God of my own heart” (Confessions 5.2).
And so we get the great lament: the lament that Augustine had taken so long to discover that God had made his home in him; that he had spent half a lifetime searching in the wrong places for what he needed most. And all the time he had been seeking God, God had never been absent. This is what he wrote:
Late have I loved you, beauty ever old yet ever new! Late have I loved you!You were within me, but I was outside.There I sought you, as I rushed about among the beautiful things you had made.You were with me, but I was not with you.The beautiful things of this world kept me far from you. You called. You cried.You burst through my deafness. You scattered my blindness. I breathed your fragrance, and now I pine for you.I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you.You touched me, and I burn with desire for your peace.
From the moment Augustine realized that God was not outside, one of the great adventures of life for him became the journey inward. His discovery led him to accepting Christ and his gospel, and for the rest of his life he loved God passionately. He ceaselessly urged all those to whom he later preached or wrote to return to their hearts and seek God within. Only there, he told them, would they find rest and peace for their unquiet souls.
“Come back to your heart,” he implored. “In your inner self Christ has made his home. In your inner self you will be renewed in God’s image. And in his image you will recognize your creator.”
For Augustine, returning to our heart is the key to discovering who we are and to discovering God.
The Augustinian charism
The Order of St Augustine is an international religious order of Catholic friars; some of them are priests and others are brothers. There are now some 2,700 friars in 50 countries.
The order was established in 1244. The friars took St. Augustine as their spiritual founder and his “Rule” and way of life as a guide for living in community. They were a new religious movement, which sought to bring the ideals of monastic life into the urban setting and serve the needs of the people.
The Augustinian charism is common life, living together in one mind and one heart intent upon God. Our common life is not just to be together; people can come together for different reasons but Augustine calls us together to support each other in our inward journey.
Online retreats on Hozana
This Advent, the Province will continue exploring our inward journey – our Interiority – in relation with the readings of the day.
Join the retreat and receive a daily meditation written by a friar or a lay person from our Augustinian community and progress through Advent from Sunday, December 1, till Christmas.
Advent with the Augustinians: hozana.org/t/EqkAY
Discovering the Augustinian charism of Interiority: hozana.org/t/VbS2V
Online bookshop of our Province: www.theaugustinians.org/shop
Learn more about the Augustinian Province of England & Scotland by registering for our monthly newsletter.