Saturday, March 6, 2010

If Monica Had Not Prayed........What Then?


We read.

Such is the education of one Jonah.

Among other scintillating texts this day we read from Trial and Triumph by Richard M. Hannula.

"Monica and Augustine, Christian Mother and Son."

Monica the faithful mother, Augustine the wayward son.

She prays.

He scoffs.

She prays.

He sows iniquity.

She loves.

He gets older.

She waits.

He is enlightened.

She holds her tongue.

He speaks with God.

Monica is mother.

Augustine is son.

They are brother and sister in Christ.

Repentance - the sanguinary made alabaster. Here is a fellow from some year in the fourth century after the birth of Christ. His heart was softened and his ears opened, and in an instant he was changed. No, not "was changed", as though change came at him like a bird. Change came rising up from the center of him - the very core of Augustine woven with the core of the Saviour.

Repentance = Change

This is a concept Jonah is familiar with. Not because he has had such dire need of it in his seven years, but because his Father has made sure he knows that one is the other. And because he has no end to canonical appetite. He has read of more than one sinner's path to repentance...commitment to change.

So he was taken with Augustine. Quite natural. To be expected.

We read on to discover that Augustine devoted his life to God, and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (such as he knew it). He even wrote a cautionary tale of sorts - St. Augustine's Confessions. You may have heard of it.

I may have heard of it too. In fact a Penguin's Classics, paperback copy of it sits on my shelf from the days of yore when I studied at University and read things meant to enlighten my Christian mind. The scholars would have me take an Augustine's Confessions and balance it in the other hand with something like a Friedrich Nietzsce's Untimely Meditations. Lest we students stray too far from secularism.

I brought the book out to show Jonah. I had him read the title, then read the sentence in the story that told of Augustine writing this book.

Jonah held the book up.

"He wrote this book? This very one? How did you get this? How did we have it already? Does Dad know we have this? We Have to read this, Mom. Dad is going to be so excited. I can't believe we have this book."

And we St. Augustine's Confessions....someday. Probably not in first grade. But I'll find something in there to whet his little excitable appetite. Something to hold him over until he has had enough of the English language that fourth century translation from....Latin?...won't hurt his ears. Something to reinforce his father's declaration that repentance is change. And we can all change.


Books are beautiful.

I imagine the illustrations for such a claim will mount up, ever higher as my days on this earth pass.

I hope to take note.

And appreciate.


Emily said...

Oh, I can just hear Jonah's enthusiastic voice and see his pointy raised eyebrows as he asks how you got your clutches on this amazing book.

I love everything you write.

And happy birthday to Jonah!

aubtobobtolob said...


Wayne said...

It is pleasing to have such gifted, sensitive and brilliant children. One takes out-sized credit for the good stuff.