The Knowledge of God & The Knowledge of Self

First, we need to know who we are. We need to know where we are. We need to know the situation we are in. This is the knowledge of self which the Fathers taught us was so important. This is the message of the Old Testament. It is the call to “repent!” (Acts 2:38). It is the coming of John the Baptist. It is our first Confession. It is the dirge, not the dance (Mt 11:17). It is the Fall of man, the recognition of sin, and the practice of fasting. The knowledge of self is the recognition of a problem—the problem.

Second, we need to know who God is. We need to know where he is. We need to know his disposition toward us. This is the knowledge of God which the Fathers taught us was so important. This is the message of the New Testament. It is the call to “be baptized!” (Acts 2:38). It is the coming of Jesus Christ. It is our first Communion. It is the dance, not the dirge (Mt 11:17). It is the Redemption of man, the recognition of grace, and the practice of feasting. The knowledge of God is the recognition of a solution—the solution.

Now perhaps we can understand St. Augustine’s prayer. Where else does this pattern emerge?

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You,
And desire nothing save only You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You,
And ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself, let me fear You,
And let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You,
And for ever enjoy You.

Amen.

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