The following is from The Confessions: Saint Augustine of Hippo (Ignatius Critical Editions), translated by Sr. Maria Boulding, O.S.B.:
Monica, grieved, is
consoled by a vision
You stretched out your hand from on high and pulled my soul out of these murky depths because my mother, who was faithful to you, was weeping for me more bitterly than ever mothers wept for the bodily death of their children. In her faith and in the spiritual discernment she possessed by your gift she regarded me as dead; and you heard her, O Lord, you heard her and did not scorn those tears of hers which gushed forth and watered the ground beneath her eyes wherever she prayed. Yes, you did indeed hear her, for how else can I account for the dream by which you so comforted her that she agreed to live with me and share my table, under the same roof? She had initially been reluctant to do so, repelled by my blasphemous errors, which were loathsome to her. But she dreamt that she was standing on some kind of wooden ruler, and saw a young man of radiant aspect coming toward her; he cheerfully laughed at her, whereas she was sorrowful, overwhelmed with grief. He asked her the reason for her gloom and daily tears, though as usual his question was intended to teach her, not to elicit information for himself. She replied that she was mourning my ruin. He then instructed and admonished her to take good heed and see that where she stood, there also stood I. This was to reassure her. She took heed, and saw me standing close beside her on the same rule.
How else could this have happened, if not because your ears were open to the plea of her heart, O good and all-powerful God, who care for each of us as though each were the only one, and for all alike with the same tenderness you show to each?
Another telling point was that when she had related the vision to me, and I had launched into an attempt to persuade her that she must not give up hope of some day becoming what I was, she promptly replied, without the slightest hesitation, “No: I was not told, ‘Where he is, you will be too,’ but, ‘Where you are, he will be.’ ” I confess to you, Lord, that, as my memory serves me—and I have often spoken of this episode—I was more deeply disturbed by this answer that came from you through my sharp-eyed mother than by the dream itself. She was not worried by the false interpretation that had come to me so pat, but saw immediately what needed to be seen, as I had not done until she spoke. The dream foretold, so long in advance, the joy in store for this devout woman many years later, and so gave her comfort in her present anxiety. Nearly nine years were to follow during which I floundered in the mud of the deep and the darkness of deception, often struggling to extricate myself but crashing heavily back again. Yet throughout those years my mother, a chaste, Godfearing, sensible widow of the kind so dear to you, though more eager in her hope was no less assiduous in her weeping and entreaty, never at any time ceasing her plangent prayers to you about me. Her pleas found their way into your presence, but you left me still wrapped around by the fog, and enveloped in it. (Bk III, Ch 11, 19-20)
Conversion of Augustine and Alypius; Monica’s joy
I closed the book, marking the place with a finger between the leaves or by some other means, and told Alypius what had happened. My face was peaceful now. He in return told me what had been happening to him without my knowledge. He asked to see what I had read: I showed him, but he looked further than my reading had taken me. I did not know what followed, but the next verse was, Make room for the person who is weak in faith. He referred this text to himself and interpreted it to me. Confirmed by this admonition he associated himself with my decision and good purpose without any upheaval or delay, for it was entirely in harmony with his own moral character, which for a long time now had been far, far better than mine.
We went indoors and told my mother, who was overjoyed. When we related to her how it had happened she was filled with triumphant delight and blessed you, who have power to do more than we ask or understand, for she saw that you had granted her much more in my regard than she had been wont to beg of you in her wretched, tearful groaning. Many years earlier you had shown her a vision of me standing on the rule of faith; and now indeed I stood there, no longer seeking a wife or entertaining any worldly hope, for you had converted me to yourself. In so doing you had also converted her grief into a joy far more abundant than she had desired, and much more tender and chaste than she could ever have looked to find in grandchildren from my flesh. (Bk VIII, Ch 11, 30)
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