“Qui fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.”
“You made us for Yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.”
St. Augustine says that “our hearts find no peace” until they rest in Christ. Man is born with desires. It is in our nature to hunger and thirst, seek comfort and friendship. However, we do not merely have appetites for the necessities of mortal life, we also hunger and thirst for the Food and Drink of eternal life (Romans 2:15).
Growing up in today’s society can seem like a constant struggle. We all are searching for happiness. Aristotle says that the only way to achieve happiness is through a life of virtue. But what is a life of virtue? Cicero tells us that virtue comes from man’s obligations. We as Christians have an obligation to know, love and serve Christ. The fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit are the virtues that all humanity seeks.
Every society strives for these things, since man is always seeking the good. But societies become corrupt. And if the people of society do not have moderation, virtue often turns into vice. Seeking courage in excess turns to rashness, wisdom in excess turns to idle curiosity. We see how in our own society respect and love of one’s neighbor has turned into relativism and extreme apathy, known as “tolerance” today. How can we as humans achieve this balance between vices in order to walk the narrow path of virtue toward Christ?
As a college student at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, I have had a lot of time to think about this very topic. Over the past several years I have lived in Mexico teaching, I worked missions in the Dominican Republic, traveled to Rome and Istanbul, read many books and have wavered in my spiritual life. My observations and experiences while meeting people in many different situations and across the world have allowed me to realize that mastery of self truly does come from knowledge of oneself, Temet Nosce; it comes from knowing God.
In St. Athanasius’s On the Incarnation, he demonstrates that Christ became man so that man could become like God (Theosis). We, as human beings, are body and soul. Intertwined and incomplete without the other, if we do not keep the body in shape the soul will waver and vice versa. It seems fairly obvious from this stand point that in order to maintain spiritual chastity and virtue we must also have physical discipline and control.
It is by the incarnation and relation to the person of Christ that we can truly know our nature and who we are as servants. It is in Christ that our hearts rest! How interesting that only in pure action, in the Unmoved Mover, in the I AM, can we rest!
We smile at the beautiful and are repulsed by the ugly. We understand what is true and despise it when we are cheated and lied to. And we all hold each other to a standard of right conduct. By getting to know oneself in relation to the person of Christ, a mastership of body and soul emerges, the intellect can grow, and man’s passion for beauty is directed toward what truly manifests grace. The unsettled nature of man, or boys becoming men, can rest in the perpetual action of Love in the I AM. The unsettled nature of man can rest in the perpetual action of Love in the I AM.