God the Blessedness of the Soul

John Henry Newman became Roman Catholic on Oct. 9, 1845, and he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome on May 30, 1847. Later, he composed a prayer to God addressed to the “Lover of Souls” in terms reminiscent of St. Augustine: “Thou alone, my dear Lord, art the food for eternity, and Thou alone. Thou only canst satisfy the soul of man.”

1. TO possess Thee, O Lover of Souls, is happiness, and the only happiness of the immortal soul! To enjoy the sight of Thee is the only happiness of eternity. At present I might amuse and sustain myself with the vanities of sense and time, but they will not last for ever. We shall be stripped of them when we pass out of this world. All shadows will one day be gone. And what shall I do then? There will be nothing left to me but the Almighty God. If I cannot take pleasure in the thought of Him, there is no one else then to take pleasure in; God and my soul will be the only two beings left in the whole world, as far as I am concerned. He will be all in all, whether I wish it or no. What a strait I shall then be in if I do not love Him, and there is then nothing else to love! if I feel averse to Him, and He is then ever looking upon me!

2. Ah, my dear Lord, how can I bear to say that Thou wilt be all in all, whether I wish it or no? Should I not wish it with my whole heart? What can give me happiness but Thou? If I had all the resources of time and sense about me, just as I have now, should I not in course of ages, nay of years, weary of them? Did this world last for ever, would it be able ever to supply my soul with food? Is there any earthly thing which I do not weary of at length even now? Do old men love what young men love? Is there not constant change? I am sure then, my God, that the time would come, though it might be long in coming, when I should have exhausted all the enjoyment which the world could give. Thou alone, my dear Lord, art the food for eternity, and Thou alone. Thou only canst satisfy the soul of man. Eternity would be misery without Thee, even though Thou didst not inflict punishment. To see Thee, to gaze on Thee, to contemplate Thee, this alone is inexhaustible. Thou indeed art unchangeable, yet in Thee there are always more glorious depths and more varied attributes to search into; we shall ever be beginning as if we had never gazed upon Thee. In Thy presence are torrents of delight, which whoso tastes will never let go. This is my true portion, O my Lord, here and hereafter!

3. My God, how far am I from acting according to what I know so well! I confess it, my heart goes after shadows. I love anything better than communion with Thee. I am ever eager to get away from Thee. Often I find it difficult even to say my prayers. There is hardly any amusement I would not rather take up than set myself to think of Thee. Give me grace, O my Father, to be utterly ashamed of my own reluctance! Rouse me from sloth and coldness, and make me desire Thee with my whole heart. Teach me to love meditation, sacred reading, and prayer. Teach me to love that which must engage my mind for all eternity.

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