We remember a mother and her son this week, St. Monica and her son St. Augustine. A song I heard long ago was titled: “A Mother’s Love’s a Blessing.” Augustine could have sung that song.
In his “Confessions,” he praised God for bringing him “late” to a faith he found so beautiful, but he also acknowledges his mother’s tears and prayers helped bring him to Jesus Christ. She was like the woman in the gospel who, as she brought her dead son to be buried, met Jesus who 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 her 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, but Augustine was special and she followed him, trying to get him to be the person she knew he could be. Above all, she wanted him to have faith.
He was a hard son to deal with, smart, well educated, hooked on the “lovely things” about him. He was deaf to her advice, blind to the path she wanted him to take, but she followed him anyway, convinced God had something big for him to do, and she finally got her wish
Doesn’t she sound like many today? How many today love their kids, or their husbands or their wives or their friends, but worry they’ll get 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 it’s good to remember Monica and the moving words to God Augustine wrote in his Confessions. Did he ever show them to her, I wonder?
“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.”
Fittingly, the church celebrates Monica’s feast on August 27th, the day before her son’s.