“The happy life is joy based on truth. This is joy grounded in you, O God, who are the truth, my illumination, the salvation of my face, my God.” (Confessions, 10.23.33).
The value of veritas signals the Augustinian search for God through the love for and pursuit of truth. But what is truth in a world containing a plethora of religions, viewpoints, lifestyles, cultures, and perspectives?
All Christians, by virtue of their Baptism, are called to holiness (1 Thes. 4:3), of which Christ is the author and the goal. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) because God is the source of all that is true. In God alone do we find complete and final happiness. Because we are made in His image and likeness, we are capable of knowing and loving God (Gaudium et Spes, 12). Therefore the pursuit of knowing and loving God is the ultimate goal of all Christians.
Yet, God is ultimate mystery. The pursuit of knowing God is therefore a lifelong journey. We often discover this most clearly in the difficult moments of life, when prayers seem to go unanswered; when things turn out differently than we thought they would or should; when we discover just how much we do not know; when we discover just how little control we actually have over the circumstances of our lives.
In his intellectual and spiritual pursuits, Augustine avidly and fearlessly sought answers to the tough questions concerning faith and life. In his Confessions, we see Augustine wrestle with questions about who and where God was in the concrete circumstances of his life: Why did he rebel as a kid? Why did he lust? How can bad happen in the world when it is governed by a God who is all good? What could a humble teacher like Jesus teach a successful professor and rhetorician like Augustine (Confessions Book VII)? Why does he struggle to give up the things he enjoyed to follow Christ more closely (Confessions Book VIII)?
These questions are not unlike some of the questions we may find ourselves asking today.
As Augustine’s journey demonstrates, truth is discovered as the mind devoutly reflects on the mysteries of our faith in light of the life circumstances we find ourselves in. We actively engage in the pursuit of truth when we continually reflect on
1) what Scripture says about our faith in the God we cannot see or feel with the senses;
2) what Tradition tells us the people of God and the Church have learned throughout the centuries of salvation history;
3) what our own unique experience might teach us along with current bodies of knowledge such as the sciences;
4) what our own rational mind surmises from the three aforementioned sources of knowledge.
The Augustinian way of life engages these four sources through several practices:
- Communal and individual prayer and worship
- Dialogue on the issues of our day in a way that invites others to the discussion and empowers one to think critically, expand boundaries, and articulate new visions
- Study of numerous disciplines (e.g., theology, the sciences, etc).
While Augustine was an avid searcher of truth, the deeper he got into his search, the more he realized he could not search for truth alone. He recognized that he needed the company of friends and established a community through which he could search for God with others. In this community he encouraged a type of unity through which he could journey with them through the varying circumstances of life and at the same time engage in a common search for the author of all truth: God.
“Let all of you then live together in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honoring God in yourselves, whose temples you have become.”The Rule I, 9
Thus, the Augustinian way of life is founded on the search for God with others, leading to our second core value: Unitas.