Restless Hearts | Augustine Institute Distance Education Valedictorian Speech
by TERI TOLPA
Your Eminence, Reverend Fathers, Board Members and Faculty, Fellow Grads, Esteemed Guests:
I am positive that a good number of us here are well versed in the famous saying of our illustrious patron:
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Thanks be to God for this simple truth. As a man it means that every disappointment, every bitter experience of failure, every betrayal, every yearning for something more, is not just an anomaly nor aberration. I simply cannot dismiss these hurts or blame them on the bad pizza I ate the night before. Instead this simple truth compels me to struggle with the mystery of suffering and come to terms with it. And in that struggle one truth surfaces. I was made for more.
As a Christian, this truth becomes a deep wellspring of hope. Only the cruelest of gods would plant desires into its creatures that were never meant to be fulfilled. Fortunately we have no such God. Our faith reveals to us that Our God is a loving Father. If I thirst, the Loving Father will quench. If I long, the Father will satisfy. Suffering then, among other things, becomes something of a blessing in that it serves as a reminder of the true Glory I am destined for.
As a catechist, this simple truth informs my teaching. Saint and sinner alike, we are all, ultimately, after the same thing… greatness, union with God. Catechizing then, isn’t a matter so much of being clever or imaginative in our delivery (though those things are important) but rather it is very much a matter of tuning others into their own hearts and the ever resonating song of the Garden of Eden that still, despite all the sin and noise somehow manages to echo there.
Very well, the Grads for sure get this. We have dedicated a great deal of time to getting this. But do you ever still find yourself discouraged? Sad? I do. I look at my restless heart here, bogged down by my own sinfulness and I see the loving rest of my Father’s heart. It is over there. At times the gulf seems immense. I am tempted to despair.
But Pope Benedict, in a homily delivered at Epiphany this past year, reminds us there is another side to the coin. He says:
Not only are we restless for God, God’s heart is restless for us. God is running toward us. He frantically searches for us. He calls out to us!
God’s heart is restless, and that is why he set out on the path towards us – From Heaven to Earth, from the Earth to grave, from the grave to the resurrection, and from the resurrection to St. Thomas More Church. Thinking upon this and God’s movement towards me, makes all the difference. It is much more hopeful than my search for Him. In my imperfection, my search for him is sure to be fraught with pitfalls… but in His perfection, His search for me is another matter entirely. We need both though, and this becomes our divine job description.
Since God is restless for us, he looks out for people willing to “catch” his unrest; He looks for people who carry within them the searching of their own hearts and at the same time open themselves to be touched by God’s search for us. This was the task of the Apostles. This is our task. In catching this unrest may we bring God to man, so that God’s longing for man might be fulfilled. May we never tire in this unrest.
The Augustine Institute | A New Kind of Graduate School for the New Evangelization
In response to the call of Jesus Christ and His Church, the Augustine Institute is a Catholic Institute of Higher Education that forms disciples for leadership in the New Evangelization through intellectual, personal, and practical instruction so that they may renew the Church and transform the world for Christ. Learn more at www.AugustineInstitute.org.