We remember two saints together this week in our calendar, Monica and her son Augustine. I was thinking of a song I knew long ago, “A Mother’s Love’s a Blessing.” Augustine could have sung that song.
In his “Confessions,” he praised God for drawing him “late” to the faith he found so beautiful, but Augustine also acknowledged that his mother’s tears and prayers brought him to Jesus Christ. She was like the woman in the gospel who brought her dead son through the gates of the town of Naim to bury him and Jesus saw her tears and stopped the funeral procession and raised her son to life.
“ I was like that son,” Augustine says. ‘I was dead. My mother’s tears won me God’s life.”
Like many women of the time, we don’t know much about Monica. She married a man named Patricius, a tough husband who put her down and went out with other women. They had three kids. She felt Augustine was someone special, and she followed him, trying in her own way to get him to be the person she knew he could be. Faith was what she wanted for him above all.
He was a hard son to deal with, so smart, so well educated, so hooked on the “lovely things” about him. He was deaf to her advice, blind to the path she wanted him to take, but she kept following him anyway. Convinced God had something big for him to do, she finally got her wish.
She sounds like so many people today, doesn’t she? Loving their kids, or their husbands or their wives or their friends, but worried about them getting mixed up in the wrong things–not going to church, deaf to the gospel. But they stick by them anyway.
That’s not easy to do and so Monica’s someone to remember. Most of us have read those moving words to God Augustine wrote in his Confessions. I wonder if he ever showed them to her.
“O beauty every ancient, O beauty ever new. Late have I have loved thee. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
The church rightly celebrates Monica’s feast the day before her son’s.