Be sure to check out “The Confessions of St. Augustine” (pdf)
St. Monica (331-387) a “shining light of Christ” example of perserverance in prayer! We have her as an outstanding model of never giving up…what a gift to us! Today we can turn to her and see what sticking to it can do, but did you ever think, “Who was her example?” She didn’t know how the story of her son, St. Augustine would turn out. She didn’t know that he would be transformed by grace into one of the greatest Doctors of the Church who ever lived. Monica must have become frustrated, and at times filled with anxiety and maybe even a degree of despair, but she persevered through it all! She surely suffered emotionally for her lost son, but she never gave up her hope in God and faith in His promises…the energy of her love for her son fueled her prayer and grace transformed his seeking heart. It took 30 years, but it happened.
A few months after his conversion, Augustine, Monica and Adeodatus (her other son), set out to return to Africa, but Monica died at Ostia, the ancient port city of Rome, and she was buried there. Some pictures show her so old, but when you think of it, she was only 56 when she died. Augustine was so deeply moved by his mother’s death that he was inspired to write his Confessions, “So be fulfilled what my mother desired of me–more richly in the prayers of so many gained for her through these confessions of mine than by my prayers alone” (Book IX.13.37)
An account of Monica’s early life, her childhood, marriage, her final days and her death, is given in Confessions Book IX, 8-12. He expresses his gratitude for her life:
“I will not speak of her gifts, but of thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor her mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of thy Christ, the discipline of thy only Son, that trained her in thy fear, in the house of one of thy faithful ones who was a sound member of thy Church” (IX.8.7).
Centuries later, Monica’s body was brought to Rome, and eventually her relics were interred in a chapel left of the high altar of the Church of St. Augustine in Rome (see below).
The importance of his life and contribution to the Church cannot be overstated. St. Augustine, one of the greatest of the Church Fathers, has not only influenced the Church, but the thought of the world as we know it. The story of his conversion as chronicled in his “Confessions”, would be enough, but then add the body of his theological work and you have nothing less than a glimpse of what is truly the power of “grace and mercy”.
Mike Aquilina is one of the best at bringing this great saint’s life into perspective.
For a more detail accounting of St. Augustine’s life, you can visit Lives of the Saints
– City of God
– Christian Doctrine
– On the Holy Trinity
– The Enchiridion
– On the Catechising of the Uninstructed
– On Faith and the Creed
– Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen
– On the Profit of Believing
– On the Creed: A Sermon to Catechumens
– On Continence
– On the Good of Marriage
– On Holy Virginity
– On the Good of Widowhood
– On Lying
– To Consentius: Against Lying
– On the Work of Monks
– On Patience
– On Care to be Had For the Dead
– On the Morals of the Catholic Church
– On the Morals of the Manichaeans
– On Two Souls, Against the Manichaeans
– Acts or Disputation Against Fortunatus the Manichaean
– Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental
– Reply to Faustus the Manichaean
– Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans
– On Baptism, Against the Donatists
– Answer to Letters of Petilian, Bishop of Cirta
– Merits and Remission of Sin, and Infant Baptism
– On the Spirit and the Letter
– On Nature and Grace
– On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness
– On the Proceedings of Pelagius
– On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin
– On Marriage and Concupiscence
– On the Soul and its Origin
– Against Two Letters of the Pelagians
– On Grace and Free Will
– On Rebuke and Grace
– The Predestination of the Saints/Gift of Perseverance
– Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount
– The Harmony of the Gospels
– Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament
– Tractates on the Gospel of John
– Homilies on the First Epistle of John
– The Enarrations, or Expositions, on the Psalms
For me, out of all the St. Augustine’s work, this is the piece that deeply touches my heart and is one of my all-time favorite prayers:
Late Have I Loved You
A Prayer of Saint Augustine
Late have I loved you, O Beauty, so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
And behold, you were within me and I was outside, and there I sought for you, and in my deformity I rushed headlong into the well-formed things that you have made.
You were with me, and I was not with you. Those outer beauties held me far from you, yet if they had not been in you, they would not have existed at all.
You called, and cried out to me and broke open my deafness; you shone forth upon me and you scattered my blindness.
You breathed fragrance, and I drew in my breath and I now pant for you.
I tasted, and I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I burned for your peace.
This prayer is from his book, “Confessions.”