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Addendum 3, Augustine

Augustine’s Double Knowledge that Leads to Repentance

We cannot know ourselves without knowing God. So Augustine can pray: “Let me know You, that I
may know myself.” These are notes I developed from Amor Dei, a study of the religion of St.
Augustine. The Hulsean lectures for 1938, bu John Burnaby, London: Hodder & Stoughton.

The primary drive of all humans is happiness. But we often accept a false image of the real,
so as not to face the full Light of God’s glory.
And the happy life is this,-to rejoice unto Thee, in Thee, and for Thee; this it is, and there is no
other. But those who think there is another follow after another joy, and that not the true one.
Their will, however, is not turned away from some shadow of joy. (Confessions, Chapter 2, …)

Sin corrupts but God does not abandon Augustine in his sin.
"But Thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever," yet not for ever art Thou angry with us, because
Thou dost commiserate our dust and lt ashes; and it was pleasing in Thy sight to reform my
deformity, and by inward stings didst Thou disturb me, that I should be dissatisfied until Thou
wert made sure to my inward sight. And by the secret hand of Thy remedy was my swelling
lessened, and the disordered and darkened eyesight of my mind, by the sharp anointings of
healthful sorrows, was from day to day made whole. (Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 8)

In his search for Truth, God leads him to his Unsearchable Light. In beholding God, he
beholds his own wickeness.
And Thou didst beat back the infirmity of my sight, pouring forth upon me most strongly Thy
beams of light, and I trembled with love and fear; and I found myself to be far off from Thee,
in the region of dissimilarity, as if I heard this voice of Thine from on high: "I am the food of
strong men; grow, and thou shalt feed upon me; nor shall thou convert me, like the food of thy
flesh, into thee, but thou shall be converted into me." And I learned that Thou for iniquity dost
correct man, and Thou dost make my soul to consume away like a spider. (Confessions, Book
7, Chapter 10)

Augustine realize that sin has corrupted us. To be corrupted means that we once were good.
For if there is not goodness, there could be no corruption. We were created in the image of
God—the Supreme Goodness who dwells in Unchangeable Light. We are subject to change
and yearn for goodness but do not contain Supreme Goodness within. This yearning for
Supreme Goodness is a yearning for happiness. Even as he beheld the Supreme Goodness
of God, he realized the weight of his own sin which pulled him back down to earth.

Even in the midst of the vision, Augustine falls away. God’s beauty brought him closer, but
his sin pulled him down.

Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd

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Addendum 3, Augustine
23. And I marvelled that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm instead of Thee. And yet I did not
merit to enjoy my God, but was transported to Thee by Thy beauty, and presently torn away
from Thee by mine own weight, sinking with grief into these inferior things.
(Confessions, Book 7, Chapter ..)

Yet, by God’s grace he retains God’s glory in his memory. Which creates a yearning to
And then I saw Thy invisible things understood by the things that are made. But I was not able
to fix my gaze thereon; and my infirmity being beaten back, I was thrown again on my
accustomed habits, carrying along with me naught but a loving memory thereof, and an
appetite for what I had, as it were, smelt the odour of, but was not yet able to eat.

Augustine’s encounter does not blur the distinction between God and man but accentuates

The excess of light was blinding and in his blindness Augustine saw his sin.

The light of Glory is painful therefore men turn to lesser lights that really pull us further
into darkness.

Augustine spends many passages discussing the nature of memory. He talks about memory
and how we can bring to mind objects and emotions that are not currently present. We can
remember animals and houses and stars and skies. We can also remember feelings of joy even
though we are currently sad and we can remember feelings of sadness even when we are not
sad. Then he talks about our longing for happiness (see above) and asks how can we
remember God, when we have not known God? Where does this memory come from? It
comes from outside us. God speaking to us drawing us to Himself. He remembers and reflects
on his first encounter with TRUTH and it bring joy as well as sorrow. He remembers how God
penetrated his blindness, his ignorance, his deception and stirred a passion and a hunger
inside of him. The vision of the TRUTH reveals his own darkness which brings convction and

Augustine focuses upon his memory of the encounter with Lord to meditate upon the Lord
and seek him.
Behold how I have enlarged in my memory seeking Thee, O Lord; and out of it have I not
found Thee. Nor have I found aught concerning Thee, but what I have retained in memory
from the time I learned Thee. For from the time I learned Thee have I never forgotten Thee. For
where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the Truth itself, which from the time I
learned it have I not forgotten. And thus since the time I learned Thee, Thou abidest in my
memory; and there do I find Thee whensoever I call Thee to remembrance, and delight in

Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd

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Addendum 3, Augustine
Thee. These are my holy delights, which Thou hast bestowed upon me in Thy mercy, having
respect unto my poverty. (Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 24)

Augustine realizes that God has not become part of his mind but His presence still moves
Augustine’s memory and he can focus upon the Lord and behold Him afresh.
For as Thou art not a bodily image, nor the affection of a living creature, as when we rejoice,
condole, desire, fear, remember, forget, or aught of the kind; so neither art Thou the mind
itself, because Thou art the Lord God of the mind; and all these things are changed, but Thou
remainest unchangeable over all, yet vouchsafest to dwell in my memory, from the time I
learned Thee. But why do I now seek in what part of it Thou dwellest, as if truly there were
places in it? Thou dost dwell in it assuredly, since I have remembered Thee from the time I
learned Thee, and I find Thee in it when I call Thee to mind. (Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 25)

God in his mercy, penetrated Augustine’s blindness with His love and now Augustine’s
burns with hunger and thirst for the Lord.
Too late did I love Thee, O Fairness, so ancient, and yet so new! Too late did I love Thee For
behold, Thou wert within, and I without, and there did I seek Thee; I, unlovely, rushed
heedlessly among the things of beauty Thou madest. Thou wert with me, but I was not with
Thee. Those things kept me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not. Thou
calledst, and criedst aloud, and forcedst open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and
chase away my blindness. Thou didst exhale odours, and I drew in my breath and do pant
after Thee. I tasted, and do hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy
(Confessions, Book 10, Chapter 27)

Augustine method of contemplation:

• Just start. God guides the soul into contemplation.
• Contemplation focuses upon the Lord and upon the Truth of the Church.
• Contemplation is not separate from our relationship to the body but should lead us
deeper into relationship.

Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd

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