The Divine Horizon

St. Augustine enjoyed watching lizards catch flies. He also confessed that he would become quite distracted at the sight of a dog hot on a rabbit’s heels, or a spider entangling its prey (Confessions, 10.35.57). Although he blames himself for being enamored of these trifling spectacles, it is refreshing to see a more casual and intimate side to one of the greatest minds and saintliest bishops in history.

It is often easy to forget that the saints lived in the same world we live in—that they weren’t always performing miracles and pouring forth torrents of sublime teaching, but were sometimes zoned out at their desk or nodding off at inopportune moments. And yet for the saints there is something special even in these ordinary, daily occurrences with which the rest of us are well acquainted. For St. Augustine, the simplest sights were occasions to glorify God. “From them I proceed to praise You, the wonderful Creator and Disposer of all things,” he writes. St. Thérèse’s chapel naps provided her with ample material for meditating on God’s love and His saving work: “I know that children are just as dear to their parents whether they are asleep or awake and I know that doctors put their patients to sleep before they operate.”

When speaking about the Christian life, Pope Benedict XVI describes it as an “encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon” (Deus caritas est, §1). This is a point that must be stressed again and again against the dominant, skeptical worldview. Faith is not an escape from the real world, a way to cope with the absurdity and meaninglessness of existence. Rather, it is only by faith that we can be in touch precisely with the real world. We still live our human life, we see and experience the same things as everyone else, but nothing is the same. The stars are still balls of gas burning billions of miles away, but now they speak to us of One who is at the same time at the farthest limits of the universe, and closer than our inmost self:

I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars [whether they are God]: ‘We are not,’ say they, ‘the God whom you seek…’ And I answered unto all these things which stand about the door of my flesh, ‘You have told me concerning my God, that you are not He; tell me something about Him.’ And with a loud voice they exclaimed, ‘He made us!’ (Confessions, 10.6.9)

The most common of actions, even going to bed and waking up in the morning, when done in the light of faith, can call to mind the saving events of the Paschal Mystery: “Lord, be with us throughout this night. When day comes may we rise from sleep to rejoice in the resurrection of Your Christ” (Closing Prayer, Compline, Sunday Night 1).

From the vantage point of this new horizon, may we consider nothing too ordinary to be of use for our spiritual life. In the spirit of Daniel 3, All you lizards, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

Image: Iker Cortabarria, Formentera XIX (CC BY-SA 2.0)

You May Also Enjoy:

The Roots of Charity This summer, I have been working in Youngstown, Ohio, at the St. Vincent de Paul Society Soup Kitchen. Each day, we feed about 200 of the poor in the city. Some are homeless, some have been abandoned, some are sick or disabled, but all of them need mercy, and all of them are beloved of Christ. This is something St. Vincent de Paul can show us, something that came to be the center of his life. St. Vincent de Paul was born in 1581 to a peasant f...
Mothers and Martyrs Days before her martyrdom in the year 203, St. Perpetua was granted this vision of her spiritual confrontation with that ancient serpent, Satan. I saw a golden ladder of marvellous height, reaching up even to heaven..... And under the ladder itself was crouching a dragon of wonderful size, who lay in wait for those who ascended, and frightened them from the ascent…. And I said, 'In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he shall not hurt me.' And fr...
On the Bills and the Blessed “Ladies and gentlemen: thank you for joining us on Dominicana today for this analogical journey! The train (of thought) on which you have embarked is an express line with nonstop service to Buffalo, NY. Please ensure that this is your desired destination. In the event of a blizzard, your seat cushion may be used as a sled. Now, we encourage you to sit back and enjoy the trip. The attendant will be coming by shortly with complementary wings…” O...
Secular Sciences and the So-Called Liberal Arts I figured it would come up eventually, but it took until the end of the very last class. I had wrapped things up, giving a few tips about the final and a reminder about the optional review session. As the students packed up to leave, I reminded them that I would be skipping town the day after the final exam, returning here to Washington, DC, and to my studies for the priesthood, but that I would still be accessible by email. Although I mentioned ...
Br. Ambrose Arralde, O.P.

Written by:

Br. Ambrose Arralde entered the Order of Preachers in 2013. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where he studied classics. On DominicanFriars.org