"Confessions" by Augustine is a deeply personal autobiographical account that provides an introspective exploration of the author's spiritual awakening. The narrative is structured around Augustine's own sinful youth, his struggles with faith, and his eventual conversion to Christianity. The book is not just an account of Augustine's self-reflective journey, but it also offers profound philosophical and theological insights.
Augustine's Confessions is a pioneering work in the genre of autobiography, with its intimate and honest portrayal of the author's internal struggles and spiritual journey. It is a narrative that delves into the human condition, exploring themes of sin, regret, redemption, and divine grace. The narrative is a vivid account of Augustine's journey from a life of self-indulgence and worldly pursuits to a life devoted to God and spiritual pursuits. We have updated this timeless classic into Modern English for your spiritual growth.
The book has had a lasting impact on Christian theology and Western philosophy. Its influence extends beyond religion and philosophy, impacting literature and psychology with its introspective style and exploration of the human heart. "Confessions" remains a seminal work, continuing to inspire and provoke thought with its timeless themes and profound insights.
Confessions by Augustine
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You're truly great, Lord, and deserve all our praise. Your power is immense and your wisdom knows no bounds. We, as humans, want to praise you even though we're just a tiny part of your creation. We carry with us our mortality, a reminder of our sins and the fact that you oppose the arrogant. But still, we want to praise you, we, who are just a tiny part of your creation. You stir in us a joy to sing your praises, because you created us for yourself. Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you. Help me understand, Lord, what comes first - calling on you or praising you? And also, understanding you or calling on you? Because, how can someone call on you without knowing you? If they don't know you, they might call on you as something you're not. Or maybe, do we call on you so that we can know you? But how can they call on someone they don't believe in? And how can they believe without someone preaching to them? Those who seek the Lord will praise him, because those who seek will find him, and those who find him will praise him. I'll seek you, Lord, by calling on you, and I'll call on you, believing in you, because we've heard about you. My faith, Lord, will call on you - a faith you've given me, a faith you've inspired in me through the incarnation of your Son and through the work of the Preacher.
How can I call upon my God, my Lord? When I call for Him, I'm essentially calling Him to myself. And where inside me can my God find a place? Where can God, the creator of heaven and earth, enter me? Is there anything in me, my Lord, that can truly hold You? Can the heaven and earth, which You've created and where You've placed me, hold You? Or, because nothing could exist without You, does that mean everything that exists holds You? Since I exist too, why am I seeking for You to enter me, when I wouldn't exist if You weren't already in me? Why? Because I haven't descended into hell, yet You are there too. If I descend into hell, You are there. I wouldn't exist, my God, I wouldn't exist at all, if You weren't in me; or rather, unless I were in You, from whom all things come, by whom all things are made, in whom all things exist. That's right, Lord, that's right. Where do I call You, since I'm in You? Or where can You enter into me? Where can I go beyond heaven and earth, so that my God could come into me, the God who has said, "I fill the heaven and the earth."
So, does heaven and earth hold you since you fill them? Or do you fill them and still have more to give, since they can't fully contain you? And where does the rest of you go when heaven and earth are filled? Or do you not need anything to contain you, since you hold everything, and when you fill something, you do so by containing it? After all, the things you fill don't support you, because even if they were broken, you wouldn't spill out. And when you pour yourself onto us, you don't fall, but instead, you lift us up; you don't scatter, but you gather us. But when you fill everything, do you fill them with your entire self? Or, since nothing can fully contain you, do they hold a part of you? And is it the same part all at once? Or does each hold its own part, the bigger ones more, the smaller ones less? And is one part of you bigger, another smaller? Or are you entirely everywhere, while nothing can fully contain you?
So, who are You then, my God? Aren't You the Lord God? Because who else is Lord but the Lord? And who else is God except our God? You're the highest, the best, the most powerful, the all-powerful; the most merciful, yet the fairest; the most hidden, yet the most present; the most beautiful, yet the strongest, stable, yet beyond understanding; unchanging, yet always changing; never new, never old; always renewing, and humbling the proud, even when they don't realize it; always working, always at peace; always gathering, yet never lacking; supporting, filling, and covering everything; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet possessing everything. You love, without being driven by passion; You're jealous, without any anxiety; You regret, yet You don't grieve; You're angry, yet calm; You change Your works, but Your purpose remains the same; You take back what You find, yet You never lost anything; You're never in need, yet You rejoice in gains; You're never greedy, yet You expect a return. You receive more than necessary, as if You owe; and who has anything that isn't already Yours? You pay debts, owing nothing; You forgive debts, losing nothing. And what have I just said, my God, my life, my holy joy? Or what does anyone say when they talk about You? But it's a pity for those who don't speak, because even the most eloquent are silent when it comes to You.
Oh, how I wish I could rest in You! If only You would come into my heart and fill it with joy, so I could forget my troubles and focus only on You, my one true source of happiness! What do You mean to me? Please, out of Your kindness, teach me how to express it. Or what do I mean to You that You ask for my love, and if I don't give it, You get upset with me and warn me of severe troubles? Is it not a big enough trouble to not love You? For the sake of Your mercy, please tell me, my Lord and God, what You mean to me. Speak to my soul, tell it that You are its salvation. Speak so that I can hear. Look, Lord, my heart is open before You; open its ears and tell my soul, You are its salvation. After hearing this, let me hurry and hold onto You. Don't hide Your face from me. Let me see Your face - even if it means I die, just don't let me live without seeing Your face.
My soul feels like a cramped house; please expand it so you can come in. It's in a state of disrepair; I need you to fix it. I admit and acknowledge that there are things within me that must be displeasing to you. But who else can cleanse it? Who else can I call upon, if not you? Lord, please cleanse me from my hidden faults, and protect me from the enemy's power. I believe, and so I speak. Lord, you know everything. Haven't I admitted my wrongdoings to you? And you, my God, have forgiven the sins of my heart. I don't argue with you, who are the truth; I'm afraid of deceiving myself, of my sins lying to me. That's why I don't argue with you; because if you, Lord, were to keep track of sins, who could stand a chance?
Allow me to speak to Your mercy, even though I'm just dust and ashes. Let me speak, since I'm talking to Your mercy, not to judgmental people. You might also look down on me, but You'll come back and show me compassion. What can I say, my Lord God, except that I don't know how I ended up in this life that feels more like dying than living. Then, I was immediately comforted by Your compassion, as I was told by my biological parents, who You used to create me. I was nurtured by the comfort of a woman's milk. Neither my mother nor my nurses produced this milk for me, but You provided it through them, according to Your plan, distributing Your gifts through the hidden sources of all things. You made me content with what You provided, and made my nurses willing to give me what You gave them. They, with a love taught from above, willingly gave me what they received from You. This kindness they showed me was good for them too. But it wasn't really from them, but through them; because all good things come from You, God, and all my health comes from my God. I've since learned this, as You reveal Yourself to me through these gifts, both inside and outside of me. Back then, all I knew was how to feed, to rest when I was comfortable, and to cry when something bothered me; nothing more.
After that, I started to smile; first in my sleep, then when I was awake. That's what I was told about myself, and I believed it. We see this in other babies, even though I don't remember it myself. Gradually, I became aware of where I was and I wanted to communicate my desires to those who could fulfill them, but I couldn't. My desires were inside me, and they were outside; they couldn't understand what was in my spirit through any of their senses. So, I randomly moved my limbs and used my voice, making the few signs I could, even though they were barely similar to what I wanted. And when I wasn't immediately obeyed (because my desires were either harmful or hard to understand), I got mad at my elders for not giving in to me, and at those who didn't owe me anything, for not serving me. I would take revenge on them by crying. This is what I've learned about babies from watching them; and I've learned that I was just like them, something that was shown to me better by those who didn't realize it than by my caregivers who knew it.
Hey, my childhood is long gone and here I am, alive and kicking. But you, Lord, you're eternal, you live forever, and nothing in you dies. Even before the world was created, before anything that we could call "before," you existed. You are God and Lord of everything you've created. In you, the original causes of all transient things are permanently fixed. The sources of all changeable things remain unchangeable in you. And in you, the eternal reasons for all irrational and temporary things exist. Lord, I'm asking you, pleading with you, can you tell me, did my childhood follow another phase of my life that ended before it began? Was it the time I spent in my mother's womb? I've heard about that, and I've seen pregnant women. And what about before that life, God, my joy, was I anywhere or anyone? No one can answer these questions for me, not my father, not my mother, not other people's experiences, not even my own memory. Are you mocking me for asking this, and telling me to praise you and acknowledge you for what I do know?
I recognize you, Lord of heaven and earth, and thank you for my existence and my early years, even though I don't remember them. You've designed us to learn about ourselves from others, and to trust the stories told by those who cared for us when we were weak and small. Even then, I was alive and could communicate my feelings to others. Where else could such life come from, if not from you, Lord? Can anyone create themselves? Or can life come from anywhere else but you, Lord, where life and existence are one and the same? You are the highest power, unchanging, and time doesn't affect you. Yet, time exists within you because all things exist within you. They couldn't exist without your support. Your years are endless, and to you, all years are the present. Countless years of ours and our ancestors have passed in your "today," shaping our existence, and future years will do the same. But you remain the same, and everything that will happen tomorrow, and all the days after, and everything that happened yesterday, and all the days before, you've already experienced today. If someone doesn't understand this, it doesn't bother me. Let them be joyful and wonder, "What is this?" Let them find joy in this mystery! It's better to know you through not understanding, than to think they understand and miss knowing you.
Listen, O God. Oh, the tragedy of human sin! That's what people say, and You show them mercy; for You created them, but You didn't create the sin within them. Who reminds me of the sins of my childhood? For in Your eyes, no one is free from sin, not even the baby who's only lived a day on this earth. Who reminds me? Isn't it every little child, in whom I see what I can't remember about myself? What then was my sin? Was it that I cried and clung to the breast? If I were to do that now for age-appropriate food, I'd rightly be laughed at and scolded. What I did then deserved scolding; but since I couldn't understand the scolding, tradition and reason said I shouldn't be scolded. As we grow, we get rid of those habits. No one knowingly throws away what is good when they're pruning. Or was it good, even for a while, to cry for something that, if given, would hurt? To resent bitterly that the very people who gave birth to me, and others who were wiser, didn't serve me or obey my every whim? To try to hit and hurt because my commands, which would have harmed me if obeyed, were not followed? The innocence of a baby lies in the weakness of its limbs, not its will. I've seen and known even a baby to be envious; it couldn't speak, yet it turned pale and looked bitterly at its foster-brother. Who doesn't know this? Mothers and nurses tell you that they soothe these things with I don't know what remedies. Is it also innocence, when there's plenty of milk, not to allow another to share it, even if they desperately need it and their life depends on it? We tolerate all this, not because they're not bad or minor evils, but because they will disappear as the child grows; for, though tolerated now, the very same behaviors are completely unacceptable in adults.
So, my Lord and God, you're the one who gave life to me when I was just an infant. You provided me with senses, built my body, decorated it with proportions, and for my overall well-being and safety, you embedded all the necessary functions within me. You ask me to praise you for these things, to acknowledge you, and to sing your name, you who are the highest. You are God, almighty and good, even if you had done nothing else, which only you could do. Your unity is the blueprint for all things; you make everything beautiful with your own beauty; and you organize everything according to your law. This stage of my life, Lord, which I don't remember and only know about from what others have told me, and guess from observing other infants, even though my guess is likely correct, I'm hesitant to include it in the life I live in this world. It's as hidden from me in the shadows of forgetfulness as the time I spent in my mother's womb. But if I was formed in wrongdoing, and my mother conceived me in sin, I ask you, my God, when or where was I, your servant, ever innocent? But, hey, I'm going to skip over that period; what does it have to do with me now, when I can't remember any of it?
Moving on from my infancy, I entered my childhood. It wasn't like my infancy just disappeared - I mean, where could it go? But it wasn't there anymore. I wasn't a baby who couldn't talk, but a kid who could. I remember this clearly, and I've noticed how I learned to speak. It wasn't like my parents or older people taught me words in a structured way, like they did with other things I learned later. Instead, I wanted to express my thoughts so I could get what I wanted. I tried to do this through crying, babbling, and moving my body in different ways. But I couldn't always express what I wanted or to whom. So, using the understanding that you, my God, gave me, I practiced the sounds I remembered. When people said a word and pointed to something, I saw and remembered that they were calling that thing by the word they said. I knew they were referring to that specific thing because of their body language - their facial expressions, where they were looking, their movements, and the tone of their voice. These are all universal ways of expressing emotions, like desire, possession, rejection, or avoidance. So, by constantly hearing words in different sentences, I gradually understood what they meant. Once I got the hang of these signs, I could use them to express what I wanted. That's how I started communicating with the people around me, using these common signs to express our desires. This was my first step into the complex world of human interaction, still relying on the authority of my parents and the guidance of older people.
Oh my God, what a tough time I had when I was told to obey my teachers, as was expected of a boy my age. They said it was so I could do well in life and excel in language skills, which would earn me the "praise of men" and deceptive wealth. Then I was sent to school to learn, even though I (poor me) didn't understand why I needed to. And if I didn't apply myself, I was punished. This was considered the right thing to do by our ancestors. Many people before us had gone through the same thing and set up these exhausting paths for us to follow, making life even harder for us humans. But, Lord, we found out that people were calling out to you, and we learned from them to think of you (as much as we could) as some great being who, even though we couldn't see you, could hear us and help us. That's when I, as a boy, started praying to you, my helper and protector. I found the courage to speak up and call out to you, praying with all my heart, even though I was just a kid, that I wouldn't get punished at school. And when you didn't answer me (not because you were abandoning me to my foolishness), my elders, even my own parents who didn't wish me any harm, laughed at my punishments, which were a big deal and very painful for me at the time.
Is there anyone, Lord, with such a strong soul and intense devotion to You (which can sometimes be seen as a kind of foolishness) that they can dismiss the fear of torture devices and other forms of punishment (which people across all lands dread and pray to You to avoid) as easily as our parents dismissed the punishments we faced as children from our teachers? Because we were just as afraid of our punishments and prayed just as fervently to You to avoid them. And yet, we still sinned by not studying or reading as much as was expected of us. It wasn't that we lacked memory or ability, Lord, You gave us plenty of that for our age. But we were more interested in playing, and for that, we were punished by those who were doing the same thing. But when adults are idle, it's called "business", while when children do the same, they're punished by those adults. And no one feels sorry for either the children or the adults. Would anyone with common sense approve of me being beaten as a child for playing ball instead of studying, only to grow up and play even more inappropriate games as an adult? And what about the person who beat me? Wasn't he just as upset and jealous when he lost a minor argument with a colleague as I was when I lost a game of ball to a friend?
And yet, I messed up, O Lord God, the Creator and Manager of everything in nature, the only one who can manage sin, O Lord my God. I messed up by not following the rules set by my parents and my teachers. Whatever their reasons for wanting me to learn, I could have used that knowledge for good later on. But I didn't disobey because I had a better option, but because I loved to play. I loved the thrill of winning in my games, and I loved hearing made-up stories that only made me want to hear more. My curiosity was always piqued, especially when it came to the shows and games of my elders. Yet, the people who put on these shows are so respected that almost everyone wants the same for their kids. But they're also okay with their kids getting punished if these very games distract them from their studies, which they hope will one day lead them to be the ones putting on the shows. Please look upon these things with compassion, Lord, and help us who are calling out to You now. Also help those who aren't calling out to You yet, so that they may start calling out to You, and You can deliver them.
When I was a kid, I'd already heard about the promise of eternal life, given to us through the humility of our God who stoops down to our level of pride. Even from my mom's womb, who had high hopes in God, I was marked with His cross and seasoned with His salt. You saw, Lord, how as a kid, I was once suddenly struck with a severe stomach pain, almost to the point of death. You saw, my God (since you were watching over me), how eagerly and faithfully I sought baptism from the devoted care of my mom and your Church, the mother of us all. My mom, deeply worried (since, with a heart pure in your faith, she was even more concerned about my salvation), would have quickly arranged for my consecration and purification through the life-giving sacraments, confessing you, Lord Jesus, for the forgiveness of sins, had I not suddenly recovered. So, as if I would inevitably be tainted again if I lived, my purification was postponed, because the stains of sin would, after that cleansing, bring greater and more dangerous guilt. I already believed then, and so did my mom and the whole household, except my dad. But he couldn't overpower my mom's piety in me, so just because he didn't believe, it didn't mean I wouldn't. She was determined that you, my God, should be my father, not him. And in this, you helped her to win over her husband, whom she, the better one, obeyed, thereby also obeying you, who have so commanded.
I'm asking you, my God, I'd really like to know, if you're willing to tell me, why was my baptism delayed? Was it for my benefit that I was given free rein to sin? Or was I not given free rein? If not, why do we constantly hear, "Leave him be, let him do what he wants, he's not yet baptised?" Yet when it comes to physical health, no one says, "Let him get more injured, he's not yet healed." Wouldn't it have been better if I had been healed immediately? Then, my friends and I could have safeguarded my soul's recovered health in your care. That would have been better, indeed. But my mother foresaw the many and great temptations that seemed to loom over me after my childhood. She chose to expose the raw material of who I might become to these trials, rather than the finished product.
Even as a kid, which I preferred over my teenage years, I didn't like studying and hated being forced to do it. But I was pushed to study, which was good for me, even though I didn't appreciate it. Because if I wasn't forced, I wouldn't have learned anything. But no one really does well when they're doing something against their will, even if what they're doing is good. The people who forced me to study didn't necessarily do the right thing either, but the good that came out of it was from you, my God. They didn't care how I used what they made me learn, as long as it satisfied the endless desires of a greedy society and a shameful pursuit of fame. But you, who knows us down to the very hairs on our heads, turned their mistakes and my own reluctance to learn into something beneficial for me. You used their errors for my good, and my own stubbornness as a fitting punishment for a kid who was such a big sinner. So, even through those who did wrong, you did right by me; and you justly punished me for my own sins. Because you've decreed that every excessive desire should be its own punishment.
Why did I despise studying Greek as a kid? I'm still not entirely sure. I did, however, love Latin - not the basics taught by my first teachers, but the more advanced stuff taught by the so-called grammarians. I found the initial lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic just as tedious and punishing as any Greek lesson. But why was that? It was probably due to the frivolity and sinfulness of life at that time, because I was just a kid, and my attention was fleeting and inconsistent. Those basic lessons were definitely more useful, because they were more practical. They gave me the ability to read anything I come across and to write whatever I want. In contrast, the other lessons forced me to learn about the adventures of a character named Æneas, while I was forgetting about my own life. I was made to feel sad for a fictional character, Dido, who killed herself out of love, while I, with dry eyes, was enduring my own miserable existence, far away from you, my God.
What could be more pitiful than a person who can't even feel sorry for themselves? They can shed tears over the death of Dido due to her love for Aeneas, but they can't shed a tear over their own spiritual death due to their lack of love for you, God. You are the light of my heart, the nourishment of my soul, the force that invigorates my mind and stimulates my thoughts. Yet, I didn't love you. I was unfaithful to you, and all around me, people were doing the same, cheering "Well done! Well done!" The approval of this world is a betrayal of you, and the cheers of "Well done! Well done!" continue until one feels embarrassed not to conform. Despite all this, I didn't cry, even though I cried for Dido's death, and while "seeking by the sword a stroke and wound extreme," I was actually seeking something far worse - to become the lowest of your creations, having abandoned you, becoming nothing more than dust returning to dust. And when I was told not to read such things, I was upset that I couldn't read what upset me. It's crazy how this kind of thinking is considered a higher and more valuable form of education than the basic skills of reading and writing.
But now, my God, let your voice echo loudly in my soul; let your truth tell me, "No, it wasn't like that. The first study was much better." Honestly, I'd rather forget about the adventures of Aeneas and everything else, than forget how to read and write. But there's a veil over the entrance of the Grammar School! True, but this isn't so much a symbol of something hidden, but rather a cover for mistakes. I'm not afraid of those who might criticize me anymore, as I confess to you, my God, whatever my soul desires, and accept the condemnation of my wrongdoings, so that I can embrace your righteous ways. Let neither those who buy nor sell grammar lessons criticize me. If I ask them whether it's true that Aeneas once came to Carthage, as the poet says, the less educated will say they don't know, the more educated will say it never happened. But if I ask how to spell "Aeneas", anyone who has learned this will give me the correct answer, according to the symbols that people have agreed upon. And if I were to ask which could be forgotten with the least impact on everyday life, reading and writing or these poetic stories, isn't it obvious what everyone would answer, unless they've completely lost touch with reality? So, I was in the wrong when I was a kid and I preferred those meaningless studies over the more useful ones, or rather, loved the one and hated the other. "One plus one equals two"; "two plus two equals four"; I couldn't stand this repetitive chant. But "the wooden horse filled with soldiers," "the burning of Troy," and "the ghostly image of Creusa," these were the spectacles that fed my vanity.
Why did I dislike the Greek classics, which contain similar stories? Homer also skillfully crafted similar tales, and while his work is charmingly fanciful, I found it distasteful as a child. I imagine Greek children might feel the same about Virgil, being forced to study him as I was Homer. The difficulty of a foreign language really tainted the appeal of Greek mythology for me. I couldn't understand a word of it, and the harsh threats and punishments used to make me understand only made it worse. There was a time when I didn't know any Latin either, but I learned it without any fear or pain, simply by observing those around me in the comfort of my nursery, amid the playful encouragement of my friends. I learned without the need for punishment to motivate me, because my desire to express my thoughts pushed me to learn. I picked up words not from those who formally taught me, but from those who conversed with me, and it was to them that I expressed my thoughts and ideas. There's no doubt that a genuine curiosity is more effective in learning than fear-based enforcement. However, this enforcement does serve to limit the excesses of that freedom, through your laws, God. Your laws, ranging from a teacher's discipline to a martyr's trials, can provide a beneficial bitterness that brings us back to you from the harmful pleasure that tempts us away from you.
Listen, Lord, to my prayer. Please don't let my spirit grow weak under your guidance, or let me lose strength in acknowledging all your kindness. You've pulled me away from my worst habits, making you more appealing than anything I used to chase after. I want to love you completely, hold onto you with all my feelings, and I hope you'll continue to save me from every temptation until the end. Look, Lord, my King and my God, let everything useful I learned in my childhood serve you. Let my speaking, writing, reading, and calculating be for your service. You gave me your guidance while I was learning pointless things, and you've forgiven my sin of taking pleasure in those pointless things. Sure, I learned some useful words from them, but I could've learned those from things that aren't pointless. That would've been a safer path for my younger self.
Oh, the tragedy of human tradition! Who can resist it? How long will it continue unabated? How long will humanity be swept into this vast and terrifying sea, a sea that even those who embrace the cross can barely cross? Didn't I learn from you about Zeus, the thunderer and the adulterer? Surely, he couldn't be both, but the fictional thunder was used to justify and facilitate real adultery. And now, which of our educated leaders actually listens to someone from their own ranks who says, "These were just stories by Homer, attributing human behaviors to the gods; I wish he had brought divine qualities down to us!" But it would be more accurate to say, "These are indeed his stories, but he attributes divinity to wicked men, so that their crimes no longer seem like crimes, and anyone who commits them appears to be imitating not corrupt men, but the heavenly gods."
And yet, you monstrous stream, people are thrown into you with hefty rewards for acquiring such knowledge. There's a big fuss made when this happens in public, right under the nose of laws that provide a salary on top of the student's fees. And you, you crash against your banks and bellow, "This is where words are learned; this is where eloquence comes from; it's absolutely necessary to achieve your goals, or to defend your beliefs." As if we would have never known phrases like "golden shower," "lap," "beguile," "temples of the heavens," or others in that passage, unless Terence had introduced a promiscuous young man on stage, using Jupiter as his model for seduction.
"Viewing a picture, where the tale was drawn,
Of Jove's descending in a golden shower
To Danae's lap a woman to beguile."
And then notice how he stirs up his own desire as if he's got permission from the heavens:
"And what God? Great Jove,
Who shakes heaven's highest temples with his thunder,
And I, poor mortal man, not do the same!
I did it, and with all my heart I did it."
Learning these words doesn't get any easier despite all the unpleasantness; but they do make committing the unpleasantness feel less shameful. Not that I'm blaming the words themselves, which are like valuable and carefully chosen vessels; but rather the intoxicating wine of error that's served to us in these vessels by our misguided teachers. And if we don't drink up, we're punished, with no sober judge to appeal to. Yet, O my God (in whose presence I can now recall this without harm), I sadly learned all this with great enthusiasm, and for this, I was considered a promising boy.
Bear with me, my God, while I share a bit about my intelligence, your gift, and how foolishly I've wasted it. You see, I was given a task that was quite a challenge for me. I was expected to either succeed and be praised or fail and be shamed, even punished. I was to voice the words of Juno, expressing her anger and sorrow because she couldn't...
"This Trojan prince is turning from Latinum."
I'd heard words that Juno herself never spoke; but we were led astray, following the path of these poetic tales, and had to express in plain speech what he conveyed in verse. The speaker who was most applauded was the one whose emotions of anger and sorrow were most intense, and who used the most appropriate language to uphold the dignity of the character. But what does it matter to me, my true life, my God, that my speech was praised more than many others of my age and status? Isn't all this just smoke and wind? Wasn't there something more worthwhile for my wit and tongue to focus on? Your praises, Lord, your praises could have supported the still tender growth of my heart with the strength of your Scriptures; then it wouldn't have strayed into these meaningless distractions, becoming a tainted prey for the birds of the sky. Because in more ways than one, people offer sacrifices to the rebellious angels.
Isn't it strange that I was so drawn to pointless things and strayed from your presence, oh my God? I was given role models who, if they made a language mistake while telling a not-so-bad story, felt embarrassed when corrected. But when they eloquently boasted about their messy lives, they were praised and felt proud. You see all this, Lord, and you stay silent. You're patient, full of mercy and truth. Will you always stay silent? Even now, you're pulling souls out of this terrible mess - souls that are seeking you, craving your joy, saying to you, "I have sought your face; your face, Lord, I will seek." Being disconnected from you is like being in the dark. It's not about physical distance or changing locations; people can't leave or come back to you just by moving around. Did your younger son, for instance, need to use horses, chariots, ships, wings, or even his own legs to squander everything you gave him in a distant land? You were a loving father when you gave him everything, and even more loving when he came back empty-handed. So, it's clear that the real distance from you is found in our misguided, or "darkened," desires.
Look, Lord God, see how patiently you watch as people diligently follow the rules of language passed down from previous generations, while they ignore the eternal promise of everlasting salvation you've given them. It's gotten to the point where a teacher or student of language would upset people more by saying "uman being" instead of "human being," breaking the rules of grammar, than if he, a "human being," hated another "human being," breaking your rules. It's as if the hatred he feels for his enemy could hurt that person more than it hurts his own soul. No knowledge of language can be as deeply ingrained as the awareness that "he is doing to another what he wouldn't want done to him." Your ways are profound, God, you who sit silently above us, using an unending law to blind those with unlawful desires. In his pursuit of eloquence, a man standing before a human judge, surrounded by people, passionately arguing against his enemy, will be extremely careful not to mispronounce the word "human being." Yet, he doesn't care if his anger leads him to harm the actual human being.
Back in my childhood, I was an unhappy kid, afraid to make mistakes, yet envious of those who didn't. I'm confessing all this to you, my God, because back then, I thought pleasing those people was the ultimate virtue. I was blind to the depths of my own wrongdoings, which had pushed me away from your sight. I was a mess, even in my own eyes, constantly lying to my teachers, my parents, all because I loved to play, was eager to watch meaningless shows, and couldn't resist imitating them. I even stole from my parents' pantry and dining table, driven by greed, or to have something to give to the boys who charged me to play with them - a game they enjoyed as much as I did. In these games, I often cheated to win, while my desire to be the best was defeating me. And the worst part? I hated it when others did to me what I was doing to them. If I was caught and reprimanded, I'd rather pick a fight than admit my mistake. Was this the innocence of childhood? No way, Lord, no way. I beg for your mercy, my God. As we grow older, these same sins just change form - from teachers to bosses, from toys to money and property, and punishments become more severe. You, our King, praised the humility of childhood, saying, "The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." But my childhood was far from that ideal.
Still, I owe you thanks, Lord, the Creator and Ruler of everything, the best and most benevolent. I should be grateful to you, my God, even if you had only destined me to experience childhood. Because even then, I existed, I lived, and I felt. I had an innate sense of self-preservation—a hint of the mysterious unity from which I came. I used my inner senses to protect my physical senses, and in these small endeavors and thoughts, I learned to appreciate truth and despise deception. I had a strong memory, was blessed with the ability to speak, found comfort in friendship, and avoided pain, disgrace, and ignorance. In such a small being, what wasn't amazing or admirable? But all these are gifts from my God. I didn't give them to myself; they are good, and together, they make up who I am. So, the One who made me is good, and He is my ultimate good. I will rejoice before Him for every good thing I had as a boy. My mistake was that I sought pleasure, grandeur, and truth not in Him, but in His creations—myself and others. As a result, I fell into sorrow, confusion, and error. Thank you, my joy, my glory, and my confidence, my God, for your gifts. Please, keep them safe for me. By doing so, you'll protect me, and the gifts you've given me will grow and reach their full potential. And I will be with you, since you've given me existence itself.