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Our hearts are restless until they rest in God

13 Jun 2018, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Augustinians

St. Augustine is famously known for his belief in the restlessness of the human heart; our hearts are restless until they rest in God, says St. Augustine. And Pope Francis reminds us never to let our hearts go to sleep until it rests in God. He sounded this reminder in his homily some years ago as he officiated at the Mass of the feast of St. Augustine and the General Chapter to elected the successor of the then Prior General of our Order, Robert Prevost.

Though the homily was given years ago, it still stands very relevant to our world today, becoming spiritually lukewarm. Cindy Wooden summarized Pope Francis’ homily as reported by Catholic News Service.

In his homily, Pope Francis said St. Augustine’s use of the term “restlessness” was striking and led him to think about three primary areas every Christian should be restless: in the spiritual life, in the search for God, and in love for others. Augustine lived a life like many young people today, the pope said.

“He was educated by his mother Monica in the Christian faith; although he was not baptized, he moved away from it as he grew. He didn’t find in it the answer to his questions, to the desires of his heart and he became attracted to other things.”

He studied, had fun, “he knew intense love,” and began a brilliant career as a teacher of rhetoric, the pope said. “He had arrived in every way.”

“But in his heart, there remained the restlessness of the search for the profound meaning of life,” Pope Francis said. “His heart was not asleep; it was not anesthetized by success, things, or power.”

The pope said that Augustine continued to seek God, and “he discovered that God was waiting for him and, in fact, never stopped looking for him first.”

Pope Francis said Christians must “look into your hearts and ask yourself if you have a heart that wants great things or a heart that is asleep. Has your heart maintained that restlessness, or has it been suffocated by things?”

Every Christian, he said, must “let yourself be restless for God” and, like St. Augustine, never tire of sharing the good news of God’s love and promise of salvation with others who are as lost as he was.

As a cardinal, the pope would visit the basilica during trips to Rome to pray at the tomb of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine; he said St. Augustine must have learned to love God and others from his mother.

“How many tears that holy woman shed for the conversion of her son. And how many mothers today shed tears that their children would return to Christ,” Pope Francis said. “Don’t lose hope in the grace of God.”

Like St. Monica, he said, Christians are called to love others to the point of shedding tears for their well-being and salvation.

Too often in religious life, the Jesuit pope said, “community means comfort,” Just as some people don’t know their next-door neighbors, some religious don’t know their confreres.

“The restlessness of love always pushes you forward to go out and encounter the other without waiting for the other to tell us what he needs,” the pope said.