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PRAYER (contemporary language)
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MOTHER OF AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (4 MAY 387)
Monnica soon recognized that her son was a man of extraordinary intellectual gifts, a brilliant thinker and a natural leader of men (as a youngster he was head of a local gang of juvenile delinquents), and she had strong ambitions and high hopes for his success in a secular career. Indeed, though we do not know all the circumstances, most Christians today would say that her efforts to steer him into a socially advantageous marriage were in every way a disaster. However, she grew in spiritual maturity through a life of prayer, and her ambitions for his worldly success were transformed into a desire for his conversion. He, as a youth, rejected her religion with scorn, and looked to various pagan philosophies for clues to the meaning of life. He undertook a career as an orator and teacher of the art of oratory (rhetoric), and moved from Africa to Rome and thence to Milan, at that time the seat of government in Italy. His mother followed him there a few years later. In Milan, Augustine met the bishop Ambrose, from whom he learned that Christianity could be intellectually respectable, and under whose preaching he was eventually converted and baptised on Easter Eve in 387, to the great joy of Monnica.
After his baptism, Augustine and a younger brother Navigius and Monnica planned to
return to Africa together, but in Ostia, the port city of Rome, Monnica fell ill and said,
"You will bury your mother here. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you
should remember me at the altar of the Lord. Do not fret because I am buried far from our
home in Africa. Nothing is far from God, and I have no fear that he will not know where to
find me, when he comes to raise me to life at the end of the world."
by James Kiefer