Question 015.  

Isn’t it expecting too much to think that anything can truly fill us in this life?

There let us dwell in hope, since we do not yet dwell in reality… And that which was our hope will become our reality, it will be our repose… You move us to delight in praising you; for you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.

from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger.


Man is finite, yet he carries within him an abyss that only the infinitude of the eternal God can fill.  All else that man might try to fill this abyss with is only a drop added to the oceans; it will not and cannot suffice, the attempt only sours his countenance.  On the shores of this finite infinitude, man’s gaze sees three things: the expanse and distant horizon that speaks to the purpose that this space is meant to be filled, like an empty room speaks to be decorated and lived in; that man is part of creation yet is called beyond created things to a relationship with the eternal God who shall dwell within him; the mortality of man brought about by his sin that distanced himself from his Creator.  These three things bring into focus the desire that this space should be filled, yet God resists the prideful advances of man to fill the space by vainful attempts to scale the heavens. The desire, the longing to be filled, is what tills the earth of the soul for the seed called hope for that which, not yet in reality, shall be, watered through the tears of humility and penance.  What man hopes for is to praise God as the One who created him, the One who delights him, and the One who completes him in Mystical Marriage.  This is arrived at by passing through the valley of prayer, where man engages in his relationship with God – the now but not yet of the future praise and indwelling of God.


The Calm Sea, Courbet, 1869