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"Late have I loved You . . ."

A reader of a previous blog post here entitled "Of Tomato Plants and A Fig Tree" commented that the blog theme reminded him of Saint Augustine, who God did not "cut down" even after a long life of sinful and impure living, but gave him time to repent and lead a holy and productive life.

Indeed, Augustine's conversion story is a testimony to the loving mercy of God, Who invites everyone to come to him, and to those who do not accept or ignore the invitation He still gives many chances to do so.

Today is the feast of St. Augustine and at the Mass we attended I was reminded of the saint's famous words after his conversion: "Late have I loved You, O Beauty, so ancient, so new. Late have I loved You."

This he said after many years of procrastination as the lure of pleasure, sensuality and worldly attractions continued to take hold of him. In his "Confessions" Augustine admitted saying to God: "Lord, make me chaste, but not yet." But his mother's love and tireless prayers helped him finally make the decision that changed the direction of his life for his own good and the glory of God and His Church.

God did not cut the sinner Augustine down like a barren fig tree, or a tomato plant that only sucked the nutrients of the soil but did not bear fruit at the expected time. God gave him many chances.

There are many little and big "Augustines" in God's world. This is borne by what we see in the culture all around us -- unfaithfulness in marriage, homosexual behavior, same sex "marriages", child abuse, abortions, etc. and lesser sins that can make people say: "Lord, make me chaste, make me good, but not just yet."

There is the universal call to holiness, which is a call to do God's will in our lives, whether this is difficult or not. We do not embrace a cross-less Christ, or a Christ-less cross.

If by God's grace we respond to to the call, there comes a point when we can happily say like St. Augustine said to God: "We were made for you, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

And like Saint Augustine, who deeply regretted he did not go back to God earlier, may we be able to also say: "Late have I loved You, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved You."

"But I am here now -- loving You, Who first loved me. Thank you for not cutting me down and for giving me all the chances I needed. Please keep me in Your love!#


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