In the opening lines of the Confessions of St. Augustine, the 4th century bishop of Hippo penned these inspiring words, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord and our heart is restless until it rests in You” (Confessions 1,1,1). At times, we will hear the translation.. “our hearts are restless” which still carries deep meaning. However, to be true to the original Latin in which the Confessions were written… “Our heart (singular) is restless.” This, I believe, offers us a truly unique and Augustinian perspective into our spirituality as Augustinians.
Over my 28 years as a professed Augustinian and especially the past two years serving on the General Council of the Order, I have had the opportunity to experience our Augustinian Spirituality as lived in diverse parts of our world. Whether visiting a community of Friars in our parochial missions in Cuba, celebrating a liturgy with a High School community of faculty, staff and administrators in the USA, seeing the community of friars giving Christian witness at the Basilica of Peace of Ancient Hippo in Annaba, Algeria or experiencing the diverse community of Augustinian Friars coming from 22 different countries and living and at our International College of Saint Monica in Rome, what strikes me most is the way we strive to live together as one. It is the one heart we share as Christians, the body of Christ, and specifically as Augustinians, that unites us. Like the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles and as the Rule of Life written by St. Augustine compels us, we strive to live with “One mind and One Heart intent upon God”. (Acts 4:32, Rule 1,3)
Augustine speaks of the restlessness of our heart and that certainly is something that is part of our spirituality but it is not unique to Augustinian Spirituality. Our restlessness comes from being away from our true homeland. Longing for our true home as those who have been created in love and are searching for our true resting place. The uniqueness of our Augustinian Spirituality is the unity of our searching, the communion of our journey toward God. In community, as one, our Restless Heart is what distinguishes our spirituality and is what I have been blessed to witness in our Order with our brother and sister Augustinians who live in community and respond to the needs of the Church in 45 countries throughout the world. Today, our One Heart celebrates Consecrated Life in the city of Chicago. Because we participate as Augustinians in the One Body of Christ, our One Heart throughout the Augustinian world celebrates with us at the very same time.
A Little about Fr. Joe
A native of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, Fr. Joe graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1985, and entered the Province’s Pre-Novitiate program the same year. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1991. His first assignment was at Saint Augustine Parish in Andover, MA, (1991–1994), followed by an appointment as chaplain at Monsignor Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, PA (1994–1996), and was then assigned as Campus Minister at Merrimack College (1996–2003).