Tell Me Something of My God

From The Confessions, 10.16 (400)

“But what is my God?” I put my question to the earth. It answered, “I am not God,” and all things on earth declared the same. I asked the sea and the chasms of the deep and the living things that creep in them, but they answered, “We are not your God. Seek what is above us.” I spoke to the winds that blow, and the whole air, and all that lives in its replied, “Aaximenes is wrong. I am not God.” I asked the sky, the sun, the moon, and the stars, but they told me, “Neither are we the God whom you seek.” I spoke to all things that are about me, all that can be admitted by the door the senses, and I said, “Since you are not my God, tell me about him. Tell me something of my God.” Clear and loudly answered, “God is the one who made us.” I asked these questions simply by gazing at these things and their beauty was all the answer they gave.

Then I turned myself and asked, “Who are you?” “A human being,” I replied. But it is clear that I have both body and soul, the one the outer, the other the inner part of me. Which of these two ought I to have asked to help me find my God? With my bodily powers I’d already tried to find him and earth and sky, as far as the sight of my eyes could reach, like an envoy sent upon a search. But my inner self is the better of the two, for it was to the inner part of me that my bodily senses brought their messages. They delivered to their arbiter and judge the replies which they carried back from the sky and the earth and all that they contain, those replies which stated, “We are not God and God is he who made us.” The inner part of me knows these things for the agency of the outer part. I, the inner part, know these things; I, the soul, know them through the senses of my body. I asked the whole mass of the universe about my God, and it replied, “I am not God. God is the one who made me.”

St. Augustine (354-430) was a theologian and philosopher who served as Bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa. He was a voluminous author, whose writings about God’s grace, the Sacraments, and the Church have been profoundly influential in the development of Western Christianity. The Confessions, an account of his conversion, is widely considered the first Western autobiography. His feast day is August 26. 


Online Archives