Faith on Friday: The Longing of the Lover for the Beloved


Saint Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine of Hippo

Posting early this morning because I’m off to Saint John Orthodox Church to celebrate the Feast Day of our patron saint, John the Evangelist (and Theologian) at 9. We are so blessed to have this amazing saint watching over our parish. The one who was both strong and gentle. The one who said, “Little children, love one another.” But today’s post is about another saint.

I’ve been receiving weekly poems and reflections via email from Roger Housden for a while now, and they are often inspirational. Like yesterday’s treat, “I Came to Love You Too Late,” by Saint Augustine of Hippo. Housden usually introduces his selections with a few enlightening words. Here’s what he had to say about this poem by Saint Augustine:

Such searing lines of longing Saint Augustine writes here—such a poignant description of the self-willed individual, the one who wants to take the life by storm, only to fall at last to his knees and see that what he has been seeking has been there all along. Augustine’s use of the term Beauty points to the deep influence on him of neo-Platonic thought, which was so prevalent in the early Church. It might seem ironic that Augustine, who railed so vehemently against the sinfulness of the body, should use such erotic terms in passages like this to describe the longing of the lover for the beloved. But then he had a deeply passionate nature, and while he led something of a dissolute youth, the same forces of desire were turned in another direction in his religious life.

And now, “I Came to Love You Too Late,” by Saint Augustine of Hippo:

I came to love you too late, Oh Beauty,
so ancient and so new. Yes,
I came to love you too late. What did I know?
You were inside me, and I was
out of my body and mind looking
for you.
I drove like an ugly madman against
the beautiful things and beings
you made.
You were inside me, but I was not inside you. . . .
You called to me, you cried to me; you broke the bowl
of my deafness; you uncovered my beams and threw them
at me; you rejected my blindness; you blew a fragrant wind
on me, and
I sucked in my breath and wanted you; I tasted you
and now I want you as I want food and water; you
touched me, and I have been burning ever since to
have your peace.

Roger Housden
Roger Housden


You can sign up for Housden’s weekly poems and monthly newsletter, “Living and Writing Wild,” here.

Have a great weekend!



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