Our Restless Hearts

Fra Filippo Lippi (c. 1406-1469)

‘The Vision of St Augustine’ by Fra Filippo Lippi (c. 1406-1469)

Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.

O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.” I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you. But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all, God blessed forever. He was calling me and saying: I am the way of truth, I am the life. He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” (St. Augustine – “Confessions”)

Restlessness plagues most of us for the better part of our lives. It is not a state of mind reserved solely for uneasy teenagers searching for which path to choose in life, or adults who need a change in their already chosen careers or places of residence, or for those who yearn to turn the clock back and do things differently. This constant restlessness effects all mankind to a greater or lesser degree throughout his life for this very reason so astutely pointed out by St. Augustine: “….our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.

In other words, until they rest in God, for Whom our hearts were made. 

Nothing in this world, no matter how wonderful, beautiful, magnificent, etc., can satisfy Man’s restless heart for more than a fleeting moment in time, because these are alien joys, transient, incomplete. Only God, our Beloved, Whose Face Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us, brings Man’s deepest longings to fulfillment. And our journeys on Earth can only partially satisfy this deep-seated restlessness inasmuch as we stick to this road that leads to our destiny with the Beloved.

Randy Hain, Senior Editor for “The Integrated Catholic Life” has given us some useful tips on how to remain focused on doing this.

“…It wasn’t until 2005, when I experienced a profound personal conversion, surrendered to Christ and joined the Catholic Church with my family that I recognized my misdiagnosed restlessness was really a lifelong search for the Truth.  When I found the Truth, did my restlessness come to an end?  No, but now it manifests itself in different ways.

Having experienced the Truth of Christ in the Church He founded, I thought my search was over when in reality it was only beginning.  I have come to understand that my conversion and surrender to Christ must be an ongoing process and not a one-time event.  My restlessness still crops up from time to time, especially when I am not actively living out my faith.  When my sinful behavior pulls me away from Christ, I feel a sense of loss like a dull ache that is only made better by once again drawing closer to Him.  How do I find my way back to Christ when I stray from the path?

  • The Sacraments.  Specifically, focusing my time and attention on the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Marriage.  I try to be mindful of the incredible blessing and miracle I am receiving through Christ’s Body and Blood in Mass or by praying before the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration.  I go more frequently to Reconciliation to confess my sins and realize (once again!) what a blessing it is to be married to my wonderful wife.
  • Live my Vocation.  I must remember that my vocation is not my career.  My vocation is to help my family and everyone else I know get to Heaven.  My job exists to serve my family…not the other way around.
  • Practice Detachment.  The world is constantly trying to pull me away from my relationship with Christ.  When I practice detachment from our culture and its negative influences I more clearly recognize and value the blessings I have received from our Lord.
  • Serve Others.  My giving to others is ultimately a gift right back to me.  When I devote myself to ministry work, writing, speaking or just counseling a person in need, I feel that I am serving Christ and living in His will.
  • Be Humble.  My pride is a significant obstacle to my relationship with Christ.  It is sometimes so palpable that I feel I am choking on this sin that is so common and so difficult to overcome.  I pray for humility every day.
  • Be a Person of Prayer.  I pray daily, but do I pray well?  Finding quiet time or being able to lose myself in prayer during exercise or the car ride home is a precious gift that I strive for daily.  Praying the Rosary, blessings over every meal, the Morning Offering and the Jesuit Daily Examen are foundational pieces of my prayer life.  When I am praying I know I am speaking with the One I love and serve.

My unsatisfied restlessness over the years obscured my vision and often kept me from seeing God’s miracles all around me.  I said “No” to God for over two decades until I let go of my pride and surrendered to Him in 2005.  When I flipped a switch and began saying “Yes”, I redirected that formerly negative energy into serving Him.  Now, I am blessed to see God’s hand in my children, marriage, friends, business life, prayer life and the ministry work I am privileged to do in the Church.

I have also come to realize over the last several years that when you truly experience the Truth, you can never get enough of it.  It is a craving that can only be satisfied by Jesus Christ and the path to Him which leads through the Catholic Church.  I may always struggle with my restless heart, but I know that I will find the peace and rest I seek if I am faithful in following Him and His Church.”

St. Augustine… pray for us. Amen.


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1 Response to Our Restless Hearts

  1. Beautiful. And I understand this perfectly. I, too, have received the great grace of a ‘reconversion’ and have never been the same. I, too, cannot get enough of the Lord. I, too, have become a daily communicant and rosary pray-er, and frequent the confessional. I, too, fell in love with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. So many graces! And my return for them seems so small. But each day is a new day to love and to seek to return love for the greatest of all Loves given to me.


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