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in the twenties. Monica follows Augustine to Milan and finds him a catechumen
in the Catholic Church. Both admire Ambrose but Augustine gets no help from
him on his personal problems. Ambition spurs and Alypius and Nebridius join
him in a confused quest for the happy life. Augustine becomes engaged, dismisses
his first mistress, takes another, and continues his fruitless search for
1. O Hope from my youth, where
wast thou to me and where hadst thou gone away?
For hadst thou not created me and differentiated me from the beasts of the field
and the birds of the air, making me wiser than they? And yet I was wandering
about in a dark and slippery way, seeking thee outside myself and thus not finding
the God of my heart. I had gone down into the depths of the sea and had lost
faith, and had despaired of ever finding the truth.
By this time my mother had come to me, having mustered the courage of piety,
following over sea and land, secure in thee through all the perils of the journey.
For in the dangers of the voyage she comforted the sailors--to whom the inexperienced
voyagers, when alarmed, were accustomed to go for comfort--and assured them
of a safe arrival because she had been so assured by thee in a vision.
She found me in deadly peril through my despair of ever
finding the truth. But when I told her that I was now no
longer a Manichean, though not yet a Catholic Christian,
she did not leap for joy as if this were unexpected; for
she had already been reassured about that part of my misery
for which she had mourned me as one dead, but also as one
who would be raised to thee. She had carried me out on the
bier of her thoughts, that thou mightest say to the widow's
son, "Young man, I say unto you, arise!"
and then he would revive and begin to speak, and thou wouldst
deliver him to his mother. Therefore, her heart was not
agitated with any violent exultation when she heard that
so great a part of what she daily entreated thee to do had
actually already been done--that, though I had not yet grasped
the truth, I was rescued from falsehood. Instead, she was
fully confident that thou who hadst promised the whole would
give her the rest, and thus most calmly, and with a fully
confident heart, she replied to me that she believed, in
Christ, that before she died she would see me a faithful
Catholic. And she said no more than this to me. But to thee,
O Fountain of mercy, she poured out still more frequent
prayers and tears that thou wouldst hasten thy aid and enlighten
my darkness, and she hurried all the more zealously to the
church and hung upon the words of Ambrose, praying for the
fountain of water that springs up into everlasting life.
For she loved that man as an angel of God, since she knew
that it was by him that I had been brought thus far to that
wavering state of agitation I was now in, through which
she was fully persuaded I should pass from sickness to health,
even though it would be after a still sharper convulsion
which physicians call "the crisis."