Augustine: I Call Upon You, My God, My Mercy

I call upon you, my God, my mercy (Ps. 58: 18). You made me and, when I forgot you, you did not forget me. I call you into my soul which you are preparing to receive you through the longing which you have inspired in it. Do not desert me now that I am calling on you. Before I called to you, you were there before me.1 With mounting frequency by voices of many kinds you put pressure on me, so that from far off I heard and was converted and called upon you as you were calling to me.

Moreover, Lord, you wiped out all the evils which merited punishment, so as not to bring the due reward upon my hands (Ps. 17: 21), by which I fell away from you. In any good actions of mine you were there before me; in my merits you were rewarding ‘the work of your own hands by which you made me’ (Ps. 118: 73). Before I existed you were, and I had no being to which you could grant existence.

Nevertheless here I am as a result of your goodness, which goes before all that you made me to be and all out of which you made me. You had no need of me. I do not possess such goodness as to give you help, my Lord and my God. It is not as if I could so serve you as to prevent you becoming weary in your work, or that your power is diminished if it lacks my homage. Nor do I cultivate you like land, in the sense that you would have no one to worship you if I were not doing so. But I serve and worship you so that from you good may come to me. To you I owe my being and the goodness of my being.

-Augustine, Book XIII, i (1)

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