Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne (1650).
[NOTE: The series “The Joyful Truth of Celibacy” will resume Thursday.]
On this feast of St. Augustine, I bring you this excerpt from my book Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, & the Universal Longing, in which I dub him the “doctor of desire.”
Saint Augustine was a man who knew what it was to pine and ache and burn inside. He felt it so ardently and wrote about it so poignantly that I like to call him “the doctor of desire.” In fact, he maintained that the “whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing … That is our life, to be trained by longing” – to follow the heart’s deepest desire where it ultimately takes us.
[NOTE: The posts that comprise this series are excerpted and adapted from Christopher West’s 2018 revised, updated and expanded edition of Theology of the Body for Beginners: Rediscovering the Meaning of Life, Love, Sex, & Gender (Wellspring 2018). Click here to order bulk copies of this book for your parish at just $3/copy or get your first copy for free using the checkout discount code DESIRE.]
“Celibacy for the kingdom signifies the risen man, in [whom] the absolute and eternal spousal meaning of the glorified body will be revealed in union with God himself.” —Saint John Paul II
It was a gorgeous starlit night. A young couple, madly in love, drove off into the country to find a secluded place where they could express their amorous desires. Spotting a grassy knoll, they parked on the side of the road, grabbed a blanket and headed for the far side of the hill.
Little did they know they were on the property of a country parish and an elderly monsignor, hearing some commotion, looked out his rectory window, gathered what was happening, and decided he would go for a little “prayer walk.” The young lovers, engrossed as they were in one another, had no idea someone had approached and was now standing at the edge of their blanket. Jolted out of their passion by a startling but nonetheless polite, “Excuse me,” they were all the more startled by the sight of his Roman collar. Expecting he would scold them roundly, instead, the mysterious man in black looked toward the heavens and probed inquisitively, “Tell me, what does what you’re doing here have to do with … the stars?” After a pregnant pause, he walked back to his rectory leaving the dumbfounded lovers to ponder his question.