If you want to impress people with your power, says St. Augustine, your priorities are all wrong. You have far more real power if your will is in line with God’s. Instead of doing what an angel does, you can be what an angel is.
Those who seek God through those powers that rule over the world, or parts of the world, are removed and flung far away from him—not by distances in space, but by difference of affections. They try to find a path outwardly, and abandon what is inside themselves, which is where God is.
They may have heard some holy heavenly power, or may have thought of it somehow. But they covet its deeds, which human weakness marvels at, and do not imitate the piety by which divine rest is gained. Through pride, they would rather be able to do what an angel does, instead of, through devotion, being what an angel is.
For no holy being rejoices in his own power, but rejoices in the power of God, who gives him the power appropriate for him to have. The holy being knows that it is more of a sign of power to be united to the Omnipotent by a pious will than to be able, by his own power and will, to do things that make others who cannot do them tremble. –St. Augustine, On the Trinity, 8.7IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
By letting go of my foolish pride, St. Augustine says, I can be what an angel is—a joyful servant of God. Looking at myself honestly, how much do I worry about impress- ing other people?
Lord, make me worthy to serve you as faithfully as your angels do, so that when I boast, I may boast only in you.
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