Dear brothers and sisters,
In the life of each of us, there are persons who are very dear to us, to whom we feel particularly close - some are already in the arms of God, others still share with us the journey of life. They are our parents, our relatives, our teachers - persons to whom we have done some good or from whom we have received some good, persons whom we knew or know we can count on.
But it is also important to have "travelling companions" in the journey of Christian life - such as a spiritual director, a confessor, persons with whom we can share our experience of faith. But I am also thinking of the Virgin Mary and the saints.
Each of us should have a saint who is "familiar" to us, to whom we feel close in prayer and in seeking their intercession, but also to be emulated.
Therefore, I wish to invite you to know the saints better, starting with the one whose name you carry - read his/her life and writings. You can be sure that the saints will be good guides for loving the Lord ever more and will provide valid assistance for your human and Christian growth.
As you know, I too have a special connection to some saints. Among them, in addition to St. Joseph and St. Benedict whose names I bear, there is St. Augustine, whom I had the great gift of knowing quite closely, so to speak, through study and prayer, and who has become a good travelling companion in my life and ministry.
I wish to underscore once more an important aspect of his human and Christian experience, which is relevant even in our time when paradoxically, relativism seems to be the "truth" that guides thinking, choices and behavior.
St. Augustine is someone who never lived with the superficial: the search, the uneasy and constant thirst for Truth, is one of the fundamental characteristics of his existence - not, however, of "pesudo-truths" that are incapable of bringing lasting peace to the human heart, but of that Truth which gives meaning to existence and which is "the home" in which the heart finds serenity and joy.
We know his was not an easy journey. He thought he could find Truth in prestige, in career, in possession of things, in voices that promised him immediate human happiness. He committed errors, he underwent sorrows, he met with failures - but he never stopped, he was never content with anything that only gave him a glimmer of light. He was able to look into the depth of himself and he realized, as he writes in his Confessions, that the Truth he sought, the God whom he sought with all his powers, was more intimate to him than his own self, that He was always with him, had never abandoned him, was waiting to be able to enter into his life definitively (Book III, ch. 6, 11; X, ch. 27, 38).
As I said in commenting on the recent film on his life, St. Augustine came to understand, in his uneasy seeking, that it was not he who had found the Truth, but Truth itself, who is God, who had chased him and found him.
Romano Guardini, commenting on a passage in Chapter 3 of the Confessions, said: "St. Augustine understood that God is "the glory who brings us to our knees, the drink that extinguishes thirst, the treasure that makes us happy . . . (He not only had) the pacifying certainty of someone who had finally understood, but also the beatitude of a love that knows: 'This is everything, and it's all I need'." (Pensatori religiosi, Brescia 2001, p. 177).
Also in the Confessions, Book IX, our saint recalls a conversation with his mother. St. Monica - whose memory we celebrate on Friday, the day after tomorrow. It is a beautiful scene: he and his mother are in Ostia, in an inn, and from the window they can see both sea and sky - they transcend sea and sky, and for a moment, they touch the heart of God in the silence of Creation.
Here appears a fundamental idea in the journey towards Truth: that creatures should be silent in order to achieve the silence within which God can speak. This is true even in our time. At times, we seem to fear silence, meditation, thinking about our own actions, about the profound sense of our life. Often we prefer to live every fleeting moment, deluding ourselves that they bring lasting happiness.
We fear searching for the Truth. Or, perhaps, we fear that Truth will find us, take us in its grip, and change our life, as it had happened with St. Augustine.
Dear brothers and sisters, I wish to tell everyone, even those who are in present difficulty in their journey of faith, and those who take little part in the life of the Church or who live "as though God does not exist" --
Do not fear the Truth, never interrupt the journey towards it, never stop searching for the profound truth about yourself and about things with the interior eyes of the heart. God will not fail to give us light to see and warmth to make our heart feel that He loves us and that He too wants to be loved.
May the intercession of the Virgin Mary, St. Augustine and St. Monica be with us on this journey.