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Bicoming Whole Again

In Confessions, St. Augustine describes movingly how God made him whole after many years of brokenness. “I find no safe place for myself save in you in whom all my scattered pieces are gathered together,” he writes.

His journey to wholeness, he says, started when he withdrew to the quiet place of sweet solitude within his own heart. There he invited God to speak to him. “Whisper words of truth in my heart,” he pleaded, “for you alone speak truth. I will leave outside those who do not believe, letting them stir up the dust in their own eyes, while I withdraw to my secret cell and sing to you hymns of love.

“I shall not turn aside until you gather all that I am into that holy place of peace, rescuing me from the world where I am broken and deformed and giving me new form and new strength.”

Augustine describes that holy place of peace in his commentary on John’s Gospel. It is “that innermost shrine of your deepest self,” he tells us, “that place of sweet solitude, that secret dwelling where there is no weariness, where no bitter thoughts enter, where there is no lurking temptation or heavy sorrow.”

Looking back on his life, Augustine realized that God had been healing him for a long time. While he had been vainly looking for love in the wrong places, he had been in God’s hands.

“You saw me and transformed my ugliness into beauty,” he writes. “Like a balm which soothes my pain, your hidden touch healed my self love. And day by day you continued to heal me until the confusion and darkness were cleared from the eye of my soul.”

Augustine sees self-love as the main bar to the love that beckons us toward God. He is aware that unless we are healed within, we will be disabled, lacking the confidence and energy and the inner strength to become our true selves.

Our self-love is the result of our lack of belief in ourselves. Too often we accept other people’s opinions of who we are. We compare ourselves with others and see ourselves as failures or as inferior to them.

Augustine would have us give up our futile searching for our identity in the eyes of others and go deep into “the shrine of our deepest selves” to the one who loves us. If we allow the Lord to gather us to himself, to work in us, then the effects on ourselves as well as on others are brought together. Day by day, God heals our brokenness and we, too, become whole again.

So Augustine bids us: “All that is weak in you will not drag you to the grave. But your wholeness will abide, will remain with you before God, who remains strong and abides forever.” 

Excerpted from Finding Your Hidden Treasure: The Way of Silent Prayer © 2011 by Benignus O’Rourke, OSA (Liguori Publications, 820007).  To order, visit or call 800-325-9521.

Published inReflections