Sunday, June 20, 2004

Augustine Day by Day - June 20 - Everything Becomes Light with Love

Even those fasts and night watches that seem burdensome and are taken on so as not to disturb one's health are turned into spiritual pleasure--provided they are accepted with prayer, psalmody, and reading and meditation on the law of God.

The labor of those who love is in no way burdensome; in fact, it even gives pleasure. What matters is what is loved. When we do what we love, either we do not notice the work or the work itself is loved.

-- Holy Widowhood, 21, 26

Prayer. Lord, all that I am I am with your mercy.

-- Sermon 16A, 6

June 20

G.K. Chesterton once said, "If something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." That's what "an amateur" literally means: a lover. St. Paul said, "Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God." He, you will notice, did not say, "Whatever you do, do it perfectly, since God condemns even the slightest technical error." Enjoying something very often means choosing to enjoy it after you've done it poorly.

This is such a great truth: God wants us to worship Him with what we actually like to do. For some, that's food science. For others, it's running computer code. For some, worship means reviewing CDs. And for others, worship means writing and reading. I'll never forget the scene in Chariots of Fire when the protagonist explains to his sister why he runs, instead of being a "purely" spiritual man: "When I run, I feel his pleasure."

When do you feel God's pleasure? When you know, you've found your vocation.

And yet, the vital balancing truth that Augustine reminds us of today is that if we love God, we will find pleasure even in what we don't like. This is the escape from hedonism toward which the literally "amateur theology" I just discussed might tempt us. We must not do simply what "makes us happy" - as if we could adequately assess that on our own - but do what makes for happiness, for blessedness. As it happens, doing what makes us happy for the glory of God makes for ultimate blessedness. As it happens, doing for God what does not make us happy actually makes for true happiness.

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