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St. Augustine’s trick when you’re worn out or upset

Pope Francis Audience

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Pope Francis greets a man during the general audience of November 10.

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 11/10/21

Pope Francis quoted Augustine's advice: When things are hard, we have to "wake up" our faith, like Christ in the boat.

Pope Francis referred on November 10 to some advice from Saint Augustine for dealing with hard times. As the Pope wrapped up his catechesis series on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, he acknowledged that sometimes, walking according to the Spirit can be hard, and tiredness can set in.

Paul promises that freedom only comes through a life in the Spirit, and this, the Pope said, “generates enthusiasm in us; we feel drawn to follow immediately the way of freedom, to ‘walk according to the Spirit.’ Walking according to the Spirit always makes us free.”

But, “on the other hand, we are aware of our limitations because we are daily in touch with how difficult it is to be docile to the Spirit, to surrender to his beneficial action. Then tiredness can set in that dampens enthusiasm. We feel discouraged, weak, sometimes marginalized with respect to a worldly lifestyle.”

In those moments, the Pope said, there is Saint Augustine’s advice, which he gives by calling on the Gospel episode where Jesus is asleep in the boat, and a storm arises.

This is found in Mark 4:38-39:

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

Pope Francis quoted Augustine’s teaching:

This is what he says: “The faith of Christ in your heart is like Christ in the boat. You hear insults, you wear yourself out, you are upset, and Christ sleeps. Wake Christ up, rouse your faith! Even in tribulation you can do something. Rouse your faith. Christ awakes and speaks to you… Therefore, wake Christ up… Believe what has been said to you, and there will be tremendous calm in your heart” (Sermon 63).

So St. Augustine’s counsel for our difficult moments is to do what the apostles did, the Pope said. And in following their lead, we will see things with a light that wasn’t possible before:

They woke Christ up. Wake up Christ who sleeps; you are in the storm, but He is present. This is the only thing we can do in terrible moments: Wake up Christ who is within us, but sleeps like [he did] in the boat. It is exactly like this.

We must rouse Christ in our hearts and only then will we be able to contemplate things with his eyes for He sees beyond the storm. Through that serene gaze, we can see a panorama that is not even conceivable on our own.

FaithPope Francis
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