A relieving vision
The woman slept with tearful eyes. She saw, in a vision, herself standing on a piece of wood crying bitterly. She saw a Glorious young man rejoicing who asked her gently, “Why do you grieve thus?”
Crying so bitterly she could not reply, however when she looked at Him she was encouraged and comforted. Then she answered, “My son… O Lord has perished. He became a great philosopher accompanying the great, envied by the rich and desired by all young ladies. Since his childhood he didn’t taste the sweetness of living with You or the richness of the Bible. He contaminates himself with his mistress every night. Now how can I then not grieve over him all my life when he is not following Your law?”
She could not utter other word but burst into tears. The Glorious young man, in a father’s kindness, relieved her saying, “Be comforted for, your son is here with you.”
She looked around to find her son beside her on the same piece of wood thus, she realized that he would accept the faith.
As the lady woke up, she rejoiced being sure that the Lord had accepted her supplication. She knelt down thanking God. Then she hurried to tell her son what she saw. He mocked at her saying, “Don’t you understand that this means that you’ll be like me?”
She did not argue with him but hurried to the church with tearful eyes.
On her way, the devil saw her and was enraged because of her persistence and great hope. He sent her one of her relatives, who met her on the way and asked her, “Why do you weep? Is any one of your children sick and needs a doctor?”
“Yes, my son is sick and I know the doctor who can heal him. I’ll go to church to pray for him and ask the bishop to pray for him to be healed.” The lady replied.
The man then said, “Wait and tell me why are you always depressed? Did you neglect your duties towards him? You taught him the living dogmas; you gave him spiritual guidance and a good education. You gave him love and care. Now he’s become an adult, active, smart, ingenious and globally famous. Enough of that, you’re no longer responsible for him.”
The lady answered strictly, “How can I stop crying over him while Mary and Martha sobbed over their brother till the Lord raised him from the dead? The widow grieved over her son’s physical death, how can I then not grieve over my son who is ruined by lust?”
The man left while she hurried to the church and said to the bishop as usual, “Father, please don’t forget to pray for my perishing son.”
Seeing her grief, the bishop relieved her saying, “Leave him do whatever he likes. Only pray for him as you can’t convince him that his way is evil. I was once a Manichaean. I not only read the Manichaean books but I also transcribed them. Finally I discovered their folly and left them.”
However she wept bitterly saying, “Pray for him father.”
Then the bishop replied, “Be sure that the son of tears will never perish.”
She left insisting not to stop weeping until her son repented.
An Intimate Friend
The philosopher had a new friend. As the friend was not deep in faith, the philosopher was able to make him follow the Manichaean belief. Thus they became inseparable for a whole year till his friend fell sick and was about to die. His friend’s family baptized him for they feared he would die. Nevertheless, the philosopher mocked at baptism considering it a mere wash of the body however, he did not express his opinion so as not to hurt his feelings. As he was about to be healed, the philosopher started mocking at baptism. His friend rebuked him saying, “If you are keen on our friendship, stop mocking at baptism.”
The philosopher waited for him to be completely healed to discuss the matter with him, but he died.
The philosopher grieved much over his friend. He wandered as if searching for him.
He was expecting every second to see him. Life became dull for him. He found no enjoyment but in grieving and weeping. He hated everything.
Years later, he again admired being praised by people. His evil friends advised him to go to Rome to seek glory. His mother tried to prevent him from going however he told her that he was going to see one of his friends off on board of the ship. By night he left her, in her tears, in St. Cyprian’s church and sailed to Rome.
With St. Ambrose
The governor of Milan asked for a teacher of rhetoric. Thus, the governor of Rome sent him this philosopher. There he met St. Ambrose, the bishop of the city, who was kind to him. Therefore, the philosopher loved him, admired his sermons and began to study the Bible only for its rhetoric and not to enjoy living with God. He was interested in the Epistles of St. Paul and started to study them. His mother sailed to Milan to see him. There, she encouraged him to go to St. Ambrose.
Once while he was chatting with Alypius, a true believer, one of the great officials, called Pontitian entered. As he sat down he saw a book on the table. He took it thinking that it was a book of rhetoric but it was the Pauline Epistles. He looked at the philosopher and said surprisingly, “How strange! Do you have a Bible?”
The philosopher replied, “Don’t be astonished for I have done nothing for a long time but studying these Holy books.”
Pontitian started to talk to them about St. Anthony the Copt. They wondered about what he said. Then he concluded,
“I was in Traveri City with three of my friends. We went out for a walk till we reached the fence of the city. Two of my friends walked until they reached a tent in which there were some ascetics. In the tent they found a book about the life of St. Anthony. One of them took it and read it wondering. His heart kindled and he decided to follow his example. As his heart kindled with the love of God and contempt for what is timely, he said to his friend, “Tell me what’s our purpose in life?” He went on reading then he said, “It’s over. I no more hope in this world. I’ll live for God here from now on.”
His friend answered, “I will join your will.”
Then Pontitian said, “I searched for them with my friend then we found them in the tent praying fervently. On seeing them we lamented ourselves asking them to pray for us. We went back to the palace with broken hearts. When their fiancés knew this, they decided to stay virgins for the Lord.”
As Pontitian said this, the philosopher grieved for he saw before him his previous life saying to himself, “O eloquent man. You’re universally famous and all people desire to listen to you. However, the illiterate Anthony surpassed you in purity and chastity.
God, all what I did was evil and impure. I grieved over a mistress who died of her love to her lover while I didn’t lament my soul which I ruined because I didn’t love You O the groom of my soul. I satisfied my teachers but never satisfied You. Many times, I lied in order not to be defeated. I never put limits for love and lust. I was blinded by the smoke of lust. I was proud of my impurity. I committed many sins in order to seem great. My mother was always talking to me in Your voice. She tried hard to prevent me but I never gave heed to her as she’s a woman. In Carthage, love imprisoned me. I found no entertainment but in being a lover and beloved. O God, I committed many sins even in the churches. I read Cicero’s books so I loved wisdom and desired to have wings to fly to You. However, these writings contained some lies which quenched the fire of my desire for You. I hurried to the Bible but I criticized it harshly. I searched for You with pride while You don’t reveal Yourself but to the meek.”
Augustine cried at Alypius, “What are we doing to let the unlearned seize Heaven by force, whilst we with all our knowledge remain behind, cowardly and heartless, wallowing in our sins? Because they have outstripped us and gone before, are we ashamed to follow them? Is it not more shameful not even to follow them?"
Rage in the Garden
He rushed unconsciously to a neighboring garden. Alypius followed him to find him leaning on the trunk of a tree crying,
“Protect me from this violent storm. Don’t remember my sins for they enslaved me. And Thou, O Lord, how long? How long? Is it to be tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour put an end to shame? I asked You before, “God, grant me meekness and chastity, but not now.” I feared that You would accept my prayers so I wouldn’t be able then to enjoy my lusts. I liked the company of sinners and not of You. I loved the books of philosophy but never liked Your Bible. Let me repent now, O Lord.”
While crying he heard a child saying, “Take up and read.”
He took Alypius with him and opened the Pauline Epistles to find it written, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13.12).
He kept on repeating the verse and went with Alypius to tell the good news to the mother who kept on weeping for nearly twenty years waiting that hour.
The mother embraced her son and unconsciously repeated the words said by the young man in the vision, “Be comforted for, your son is here with you.”
Although it has been so long, God fulfill His promises in the appointed time. It was time for heaven to rejoice with him who was lost and found, was dead and is alive again.
As the repentant philosopher was contemplating on God’s love to sinners, kindness with the weak, and His longsuffering with every person, someone knocked at the door. He asked who was at the door. As he knew that it was his mistress, he asked, “Whom do you want?”
She answered, “Augustine.”
He then replied, “Augustine died.”
The woman was surprised, and said, “This voice is Augustine’s. How can he be dead then?”
Augustine answered, “Sister, Augustine whom you want has died. He who speaks to you now is Jesus who dwells in Augustine’s heart.”
She did not believe what has been said. “What’s that? He is abnormal. Isn’t that Augustine who was once longing to hear my voice, unable to miss me for even a day! Now he refuses to see me! He died indeed, for this isn’t Augustine whom I knew before. The speaker is Jesus Christ who works in him. Jesus, are You thus able to kill sin, impurity and lusts and kindle the heart with chastity to the extent that this sinner refuses to meet me? Why don’t You kill my sins so that I may enjoy You now, to live with You in chastity as Augustine?”
The woman through herself at the door and cried sorrowfully, “I also want Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…!”
St. Monica’s Reposing
Augustine stayed six months with some of his friends in Cassisiacum, near Milan, preparing for being baptized. His mother, his son Adeodatus, his brother and Alypius were with him under the supervision of St. Ambrose. In 387 AD they returned to Milan where St. Ambrose baptized him together with his son and his friend. Then they went to Ostia waiting for a ship to take them back to their country. In Ostia, they had been talking about the kingdom of God and His Second Coming. The mother concluded, “Augustine, nothing makes me happy in this life anymore. I hate what’s temporary. I think that God lengthened my life for one reason: to see you saved as a true Christian. Then why should I stay anymore?”
Five days later she became sick with fever. Finding her two sons in great sorrow, she said, “Wherever I die, bury me there.”
She said so as she no longer desired to be buried with her husband.
Her son Tafikhos answered, “Don’t say that, Mother.”
She looked at him addressing Augustine reproachfully, “Augustine did you hear what your brother said. Sons, don’t be concerned with my body, bury it anywhere. Just pray for me before the Altar.”
Then she closed her eyes, lifted up her heart to God and gave up her pure soul.
Augustine tried not to cry for the physical separation yet, he burst into tears unwillingly and said, “Shouldn’t I mourn, even for an hour, her who used to make her bed swim with her tears for hours for my sake?”
A Conversation with a Wolf
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