If there is one church father that is easy and fashionable to recall, it is Augustine. He shaped the Christian Faith beyond measure, but who shaped him? Augustine penned these words in his Confessions concerning his late conversion, “O beauty so ancient and so new! Late have I loved you! You were within me while I had gone outside to seek you.” Many of us miss the portrait of a desperately praying mother behind the foreground of this Christian great.
We miss that she raised him and two brothers as Christians even though she was unable to baptize them being married to a non-religious nobleman. We miss her as she refused to let young Augustine return home after joining a Christian cult, or later as she took him in along with his mistress and his child. She later strategized to cross his paths with the Bishop of Milan, leading toward his eventual vocation as a monk, a priest, and a theologian.
In 387, Augustine’s mother Monica sweetly passed from this life, surrounded by her three boys and grandson. It’s nice to know that among the great theological and spiritual traditions of the church, this is one stands out… the presence and power of a praying mother in the life of a saint.