Particularly moving in this book is when he talks about the power of his mother’s faithfulness and prayers for him.
Of course, at this point in the book, he still doesn’t believe in the mysteries of Christ, but is beginning to recognize the trouble his own soul is in. He talks about the deep sickness he experiences, but it is a sickness in the soul: “My fever grew worse within me.”
He writes of his mother, St. Monica: “I cannot tell you clearly enough what love she had for me.” Oh what love can do!
But would you, O God of mercies, have despised the contrite and humbled heart of so chaste and sober a widow, generous in almsgiving, faithful and helpful to your holy ones, letting no day pass without an offering at your altar, going without fail to church twice a day, in the morning and at evening, not for empty stories and old wives’ tales, but that she might hear you in your instructions and that you might hear her in her prayers? Could you, by whose gift she was such, despise and reject from your help those tears, by which she sought from you not gold and silver or any changing, fleeting good but the salvation of her son’s soul? By no means, O Lord! Yes, you were present to help her, and you graciously heard her.
How well said. Those faithful to God are present in his Church a lot; and it’s a presence with great meaning–more than we’ll ever know. There is power in the kind of example Augustine’s mothe provided (Augustine knew about his mother’s prayer habits), but there is even more power in prayer itself.
I often wonder if we don’t pray enough for the salvation of others. What an awesome example we have in St. Augustine’s mother!
God hears. And is present to help. And generously answers.
To be sure, “little by little,” St. Augustine underwent conversion. We’re kidding ourselves to think his mother’s prayers weren’t a huge part of how this happened.