Tuesday, May 4, 2010

St. Monica (332-387)

“...[M]y mother said, “Son, for my own part I have no further delight in any thing in this life. What I do here any longer, and for what I am here, I know not, now that my hopes in this world are accomplished. One thing there was for which I desired to linger for a while in this life, that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God has done this for me more abundantly, that I should now see you withal, despising earthly happiness, become His servant: what do I here?

What answer I made her as to these things, I remember not. For scarce five days after, or not much more, she fell sick with a fever; and in that sickness one day she fell unconscious, and was for a while withdrawn from these visible things. We hastened round her; but she was soon brought back to her senses; and looking on me and my brother standing by her, said to us enquiringly, “Where was I?” And then looking fixedly on us, amazed with grief: “Here,” she said, “you shall bury your mother.” I held my peace and refrained from weeping; but my brother spoke something, wishing for her, as the happier lot, that she might die, not in a strange place, but in her own land. Whereat, she with anxious look, checking him with her eyes, since he still savoured such things, then looking upon me: “Behold,” she said, “what he says”: and soon after to us both she said, “Lay this body anywhere; let not the care for that in any way disquiet you: this only I request, that you would remember me at the Lord's altar, wherever you be.” And having delivered this sentiment in what words she could, she held her peace, being exercised by her growing sickness.

But I, considering Your gifts, O unseen God, which You instill into the hearts of Your faithful ones, from which wondrous fruits do spring, rejoiced and gave thanks to You, recalling what I before knew, how careful and anxious she had ever been as to her place of burial, which she had provided and prepared for herself next to the body of her husband. For because they had lived in great harmony together, she also wished (so little can the human mind embrace things divine) to have this addition to that happiness, and to have it remembered among men, that after her pilgrimage beyond the seas, what was earthly of this united pair had been permitted to be united beneath the same earth. But when this emptiness had through the fulness of Your goodness begun to cease in her heart, I knew not, and rejoiced admiring what she had so disclosed to me; though indeed in our discourse at the window, when she said, “What do I here any longer?” there appeared no desire of dying in her own country. I heard afterwards also, that when we were at Ostia, she with a mother's confidence, when I was absent, one day discoursed with certain of my friends about the contempt of this life, and the blessing of death: and when they were amazed at such courage which You had given to a woman, and asked, “Whether she were not afraid to leave her body so far from her own city?” she replied, “Nothing is far to God; nor was it to be feared lest at the end of the world, God should not recognise whence He were to raise me up.” On the ninth day, then, of her sickness, and in the fifty-sixth year of her age, and in the thirtty-third of mine, that religious and holy soul was freed from the body.” (From The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book 9, Chapters 10-11)

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