Saturday, September 21, 2013

Excerpt from Augustine's "Soliloquies"

Excerpt from Augustine’s Soliloquies.
(Edited and Translated by J.H.S. Burleigh, 1953)

This is some of the prayer written by Augustine at the start of Soliloquies, where he is praying for the wisdom of God to help him to understand both the soul and God.
Augustine invented this genre of literature; the internal dialogue, which he named by combining the Latin words
soli + loquie

This is talking to yourself.

O God, Creator of the universe, give me first that I may pray aright, then that I may conduct myself worthily of being heard by thee, and finally that I may be set free by thee. God, by whom all things come into existence which by themselves would not exist; who permittest not to perish even that which destroys itself; who out of nothing didst create this world which the eyes of all perceive to be most beautiful; who doest no evil so that existence is good because it is thy work; who showest that evil is nothing to the few who take refuge in the truth; by whom the universe even with its sinister aspects is perfect; by whom there is no absolute disharmony because bad and good together harmonize; whom everything capable of loving loves consciously or unconsciously; in whom are all things yet so that thou art unharmed by the baseness, malice or error of any of thy creatures; …Father of Truth, of Wisdom, of the True and Perfect Life, of Beatitude, of the Good and Beautiful, of the Intelligible Light, Father of our awakening and of our illumination, of the sign by which we are admonished to return to thee.

Thee I invoke, O God, the Truth, in, by and through whom all truths are true; the Wisdom, in, by and through whom all are wise; the True and Perfect Life, in, by and through whom live all who live truly and perfectly; the Beatitude, in, by and through whom all the blessed are pleased; the Good and the Beautiful, in, by and through whom all good and beautiful things have these qualities; the intelligible Light, in, by and through whom all intelligible things are illumined…I invoke thee, O God, to whom faith calls us, hope lifts us, and charity unites us; by whom we overcome the enemy and are delivered from utter destruction; by whom we are admonished to awake; by whom we distinguish good from evil and shun evil and follow after good; by whom we yield not to adversities; our rightful Lord, whom we rightly serve; by whom we learn that those things are alien which once we thought were ours and that those things are ours which once we thought were alien…come propitiously to my aid

Make me to seek thee, Father. Free me from error. As I seek thee, may nothing else substitute itself for thee. If I desire nothing else but thee, may I at last find thee, Father, I beseech thee. But if there be in me the desire for anything superfluous, do thou thyself cleanse me and make me fit to see thee…Only I beseech thy most excellent clemency to convert me wholly to thyself, to allow nothing to gainsay me as I draw near to thee and to build me while I bear and wear this mortal body to be pure, generous, just and prudent, a perfect lover and receiver of thy Wisdom and worthy to dwell in thy most blessed kingdom. Amen. Amen.

(From pp 23-26)


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