The New Haven Register’s Michael Bellmore has something to say to me in “Lapsed Catholic has a confession to make.” His struggle with Christian faith is not unique to him, nor is the struggle for living coherently. Earlier this evening I had a conversation with friends about faith, meaning and struggle for truth in the lives we lead. I was privileged to be invited to a gathering at a friend’s house sharing in an interesting conversation with his niece who’s a freshman at Providence College and who just read Saint Augustine’s Confessions as part of a Western Civ class. Wow! Someone is still reading Augustine’s Confessions. Admittedly, the book is challenging for a well-educated person, and yet I find it clarifies my own journey and the path most people make in life.
To be honest the first line of the article gave me the feeling, “Oh, hear we go again, another angry, complaining, silly reporter trying to give another black eye to the Church.” But I read the article and I found something else. I found a young man searching for meaning, reaching out in anxiety and finding friendship, mercy and forgiveness: a stony heart exchanged for new one.
People (we) are desperate nowadays to have meaning in their lives, to know that all is not wasted, that their is hope when bad things to good people. Knowing that God is still present, that He walks with us, that He loves us and that all can be made right.
Mr Bellmore is no Saint Augustine, but the paths to God are similar for them both (and me, too), just like it is for my young friend who read the Confessions at Providence and found the text challenging and yet expansive. The Newtown circumstance of 27 deaths are a provocation to something deeper. They are an invitation to know ourselves in a new and intimate way, a path to communion with God in an experience of community. The dark night of the souls is not the end of the story, it is not the end of the story that many feel when considering the place of God in this life and questions that lead to a new horizon of positivity of reality, of one’s change of heart.
And just for the record, I mentioned to my friend that if she gave the Confessions a chance and went back to the text every two years she will gain a new insight each and every time she reads it. Experience, whether my own, Mr. Bellmore’s or Saint Augustine’s, is the point where God most actively dwells and where He helps us to change into the people we are meant to be.