‘When the day of her death was coming - a day you, Lord, knew but we did not - she and I were alone, leaning out of a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house where we were staying, there at Ostia on the Tiber, where we waited, away from the crowds, after our long journey by land, and prepared for our sea voyage.
Our conversation led us to conclude that no bodily pleasure, however great and whatever earthly light might shed lustre upon it, could be compared, or even noticed, by contrast with the happiness of the life of the saints. And so we went on by interior thinking, and speaking to one another with wonder at your works, O Lord, and finally came to our own minds and passed beyond them to reach the land of unfailing plenty where you feed Israel eternally with the fodder of truth, where life is wisdom through whom all things were made, all that have been and ever will be; but she herself is not made but only is, since she is eternal: for to have been and to be in the future, are not to be in eternity. And while we spoke of her, and strained after her with the whole of our heart-beat, we touched her for a moment.
That was the burden of our talk, although we did not speak in these precise words or exactly as I have set them down. Yet you know, Lord, that as we talked that day the world, with all its pleasures, seemed a paltry place compared to the life of which we spoke. And then my mother said, "My son, for my part I find no further point in being in this life. What I am still to do and why I am here in this world I do not know, for I have no more to hope for on this earth. I had one reason alone for wishing to remain a little longer in this life, and that was the wish to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. God has granted me this and more beside, for I now see you as his servant, despising any happiness that the world can give. What is left for me to do in this world?”’.
from The Confessions by St Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
O God, who art the Comforter of them that mourn, and the Salvation of them that hope in thee, who didst graciously regard the tearful pleading of blessed Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine: grant, we beseech thee, at their united intercession; that we may truly lament our sins and be made worthy to obtain thy gracious pardon; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon