This is the famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5) in which Saint Augustine states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” It is used in the Roman Office of readings for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary time with the accompanying biblical reading of Job 28:1-28.
Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise; your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning. And so we men, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you – we also carry our mortality about with us, carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.
We know for certain-we have a goal (Heaven), a road map (Scripture and Tradition), examples to follow (the Saints), leadership (the Pope, Bishops, Priests and Deacons), clear teaching authority (the Magisterium of the Church), help along the way (the Sacraments) and we have Divine guidance (the Holy Spirit). It is obvious that we have the tools and resources we need.
Here are eight tips for growing your faith…
There are four primary scripture passages that are cited as evidence for praying in tongues: Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 14:4-17; Ephesians 6:18; and Jude verse 20. Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20 mention “praying in the Spirit.” However, tongues as a prayer language is not a likely interpretation of “praying in the Spirit.”
Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
Two key points make it highly unlikely that Romans 8:26 is referring to tongues as a prayer language. First, Romans 8:26 states that it is the Spirit who “groans,” not believers. Second, Romans 8:26 states that the “groans” of the Spirit “cannot be expressed.” The very essence of speaking in tongues is uttering words.
That leaves us with 1 Corinthians 14:4-17 and verse 14 especially: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” First Corinthians 14:14 distinctly mentions “praying in tongues.” What does this mean? First, studying the context is immensely valuable. First Corinthians chapter 14 is primarily a comparison/contrast of the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy. Verses 2-5 make it clear that Paul views prophecy as a gift superior to tongues. At the same time, Paul exclaims the value of tongues and declares that he is glad that he speaks in tongues more than anyone (verse 18).
The first occurrence of the gift of speaking in tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The apostles went out and shared the gospel with the crowds, speaking to them in their own languages: “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11). The Greek word translated tongues literally means “languages.” Therefore, the gift of tongues is speaking in a language the person speaking does not know in order to minister to someone who does speak that language.
Mark 16:17 – right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He prophesied “they will speak in new tongues.”
There are only four instances in the New Testament where people speak in tongues:
Acts 2:3 – when the Holy Spirit descended upon the twelve apostles on Pentecost Sunday, they began to speak in tongues. Acts 2:6 says that men from fifteen different nations each heard the apostles speaking in their own language.
Acts 10:44-46 – after Peter preached the gospel, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word, and they (including the Gentiles) began to speak in tongues.
Acts 19:5-6 – after Paul baptized and confirmed about twelve Ephesians, they spoke with tongues.
1 Cor. 12-14 – Paul teaches that members of the Corinthian church had the gift of speaking in tongues.
In each instance in the book of Acts, tongue speaking is heard as if it is a foreign language. This gift of the Holy Spirit was for the purpose of spreading the gospel to all peoples of the world. Peter supports this view when he equates the Gentile tongue-speaking with the tongue-speaking at Pentecost (which was heard as foreign languages) when he says “the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15).
In 1 Corinthians chapters 12–14, Paul discusses miraculous gifts, saying, “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” (1 Corinthians 14:6). According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the tongues described in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated.
Today the shelves are full of books on spirituality and contemplation that all promise a fast track, easy secrets, and quick and painless methods to deep spirituality for the new initiate. They sound good, they seem to speak the truth but many have the same undercurrent as the Gnostic teachings did so long ago. Pay the guru their price, even to the detriment of your faith, and you’ll be satisfied. The hole will be filled and you will finally be happy.
They promise the ability to reach the highest mountain top experiences in five easy steps. No need for self control, no need for effort, no changed lives, no work just the payoff usually seen in the lives of the saints at the ends of their lives of service. Why should we have to work so hard to experience God? Doesn’t He want to be with us? Don’t we deserve it NOW!
You can hear the child can’t you. The child in each of us wanting without paying the price. Wanting the relationship with Christ without picking up the cross. Maybe that is why we’re not surprised when the excitement wears off and the 5 steps lead us to nothing. Are we not in many ways worse off? Doesn’t it take twice as much effort the next time to try it again? Isn’t this what Jesus was constantly trying to prepare us for? Not the fast fuse but the long burn?
Fr. Lawrence Scupoli’s book, The Spiritual Combat, published in the late 1500’s speaks to this very issue. His pastoral experience and many years of the sacrament of reconciliation shine through his writings. He understands what works and what work we all need to do each day in pursuing what should be our one purpose, our one motive…to please Him.
Below are his preliminary words, what he calls the four necessary things for spiritual combat. He doesn’t pull any punches and he lays the gauntlet squarely at our feet. The question will be, “Do we really want to reach the top of that spiritual mountain or is it safer at the tree line?”, “Are we willing to pick up the cross and actually carry it for a time?”, “Are we willing to focus and fight today’s battle no matter tomorrows war?”
If the answer is “yes” then read further…