‘Here Let Us Always Be Seeking’

Lent 2014: Readings from Augustine

Let us direct our mind’s eye and with the Lord’s help let us again seek God. There is a verse in the divine song: “Seek the Lord, and your soul shall live” (Ps 68/69, 33). Let us seek him in order to find him, and let us seek him once we have found him. That’s why it is said elsewhere: “Seek his face evermore” (Ps 104/105, 4). For he satisfies the seeker to the degree he can grasp him, and he makes the finder yet more capable so that he may desire to be filled again now that he has begun to grasp more. When it was said, “Seek the Lord evermore,” this was not meant in the sense in which it was said of some others, “Always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:7), but rather in the sense: “When a person has finished, then does he begin” (Eccl 18:6), until we reach that life where we will be so filled that we will not need to be made more capable because we will be so made perfect that we no longer need to make progress. Then there will be shown to us what can satisfy us. But here let us always be seeking, and let not the fruit of our finding be the end of our searching....

We say that we must always be seeking here lest we ever think that we may cease inquiring. When it was said to those others, “Always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth,” ... it’s as if it were saying: “Always walking, and never getting on to the road.” But let us always be walking on the road until we reach the place where that road leads. Let us never tarry on the road till it leads us to the place where we may dwell. Thus we stretch forth by our seeking, and by our finding we reach a certain point, and thus by seeking and finding we pass on to that which remains until there can be an end to our seeking because perfection requires no further progress. (In Ioannem Tr. 63, 1; PL 35, 1803-1804)

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Reminds me of a passage that struck me years ago in Henri Marrou's little book,  ST AUGUSTINE THROUGH THE AGES, which I remember as: "Let our seeking be such that we can be sure of finding, and our finding be such that we go on seeking."

I am reminded by this of "Little Gidding," the last of the Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

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About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.