In many ways, throughout history down to the present
day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their
religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals,
meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression,
despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so
universal that one may well call man a
From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the
whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and
the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that
they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and
find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
For “in him we live and move and have our being.”
But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God”
can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man.
Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the
world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of
this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers;
currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of
sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee
“Let the hearts of those who seek the
Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call
every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this
search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound
will, “an upright heart,” as well as the witness of others who teach
him to seek God.
You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your
power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so
small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man,
though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of
sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite
everything, man, though but a small part of your creation,
wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight
in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our
heart is restless until it rests in you.
Created in God’s image and called to know and love him,
the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to
19 § 1.
6 St. Augustine,
1, 1, 1: PL 32, 659-661.