“Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (St. Augustine, Confessions)
While in Eucharistic adoration the other morning I prayed for many things, including strength and courage to stay on the path of Christ. As I sometimes remember to do, I let my mind grow quiet and tried to listen to God’s words and not my own. The above quote from St. Augustine crossed my mind and the word which resonated with me most was “restless.”
Restlessness has plagued me most of my life. I thought the uneasy restlessness I began feeling as a teenager was a desire to move away from home and go to college or have career success, but that wasn’t it. I then thought getting married and having a family would calm my restlessness, but that wasn’t it either. It wasn’t until 2005, when I experienced a profound personal conversion, surrendered to Christ and joined the Catholic Church with my family that I recognized my misdiagnosed restlessness was really a lifelong search for the Truth. When I found the Truth, did my restlessness come to an end? No, but now it manifests itself in different ways.
Having experienced the Truth of Christ in the Church he founded, I thought my search was over when in reality it was only beginning. I have come to understand that my conversion and surrender to Christ must be an ongoing process and not a one-time event. My restlessness still crops up from time to time, especially when I am not actively living out my faith. When my sinful behavior pulls me away from Christ, I feel a sense of loss like a dull ache that is only made better by once again drawing closer to him. How do I find my way back to Christ when I stray from the path?
I find six basic steps that are open to all Catholics:
The Sacraments. Specifically, focusing my time and attention on the sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Marriage. I try to be mindful of the incredible blessing and miracle I am receiving through Christ’s Body and Blood in Mass or by praying before the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration. I go more frequently to Reconciliation to confess my sins and realize (once again!) what a blessing it is to be married to my wonderful wife.
Live My Vocation. I must remember that my vocation is not my career. My vocation is to help my family and everyone else I know get to heaven. My job exists to serve my family, not the other way around.
Practice Detachment. The world is constantly trying to pull me away from my relationship with Christ. When I practice detachment from our culture and its negative influences, I more clearly recognize and value the blessings I have received from our Lord.
Serve Others. Giving to others is ultimately a gift back to me. When I devote myself to ministry work, writing, speaking or just counseling a person in need, I feel that I am serving Christ and living in his will.
Be Humble. My pride is a significant obstacle to my relationship with Christ. It is sometimes so palpable that I feel I am choking on this sin that is so common and so difficult to overcome. I pray for humility every day.
Be a Person of Prayer. I pray daily, but do I pray well? Finding quiet time or being able to lose myself in prayer during exercise or the car ride home is a precious gift that I strive for daily. Praying the Rosary, blessings over every meal, the Morning Offering and the Jesuit Daily Examen are foundational pieces of my prayer life. When I am praying, I know I am speaking with the One I love and serve.
My unsatisfied restlessness over the years obscured my vision and often kept me from seeing God’s miracles all around me. I said “No” to God for over two decades until I let go of my pride and surrendered to him. When I began saying “Yes,” I redirected that formerly negative energy into serving him. Now, I am blessed to see God’s hand in my children, marriage, friends, business life, prayer life and the ministry work I am privileged to do in the Church.
I have also come to realize over the last several years that when you truly experience the Truth, you can never get enough of it. It is a craving that can only be satisfied by Jesus Christ and the path to him which leads through the Catholic Church. I may always struggle with my restless heart, but I know that I will find the peace and rest I seek if I am faithful in following him and his Church.
St. Augustine, pray for us.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of three books by Liguori Press: The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith and Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life.