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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
August 23, 2009

‘The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree’

    The saying in the title is well known in modern parlance but the truth of it is not limited to our time nor limited to American culture.  It happens all too often that 21st century Americans believe that their lives are very far removed from previous centuries, especially those of other cultures and continents.  This may be true with respect to hi-tech living but people are people regardless of time or place.  Let’s take a few minutes to see if we have anything in common with two people who were well known in their day and, in some circles, remain so today.

    This week the church celebrates the feast of two great saints, i.e., St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine.  Monica was born in the small town of Thagaste in modern day Algeria in the year 331 AD.  Basing ourselves on Augustine’s writings, we learn that his mother was quite the woman.  She came from a good, middle class, Christian home.  She loved wine and she loved life.  She married a young man who was a pagan.   This was probably against her parents’ wishes.  No doubt she figured she could handle it.  The couple several children, one of which was Augustine.  Not much is known of the others but Augustine seemed to be very much like his mother.  He had the combined characteristics of loving life while constantly searching for  truth.

    Monica had her hands full attempting to balance the love for her husband and her children with her love for God. She took some serious gambles, not the least of which was not baptizing her son at an early age because she feared he would be influenced by his father and he would stray from the church.  She must have been a very intuitive woman.  She knew the men in her life and she won them both by her constant prayer and good example.  Monica is best known in Christian circles for her adamant perseverance to prayer and constant good example even when it seemed that God was not listening.  Her faith was unshakeable and God rewarded her before she died.  Both her husband and her son were converted to Christianity.

    Augustine, like his mother, was born in Thagaste, Algeria in the 354 AD.  He was a very intelligent young man and a lover of wine and women.  He enjoyed life but also sought the truth.  He traveled far and wide to listen to the best philosophers.  He was not easily swayed by their rhetoric.  He spent many years reading, thinking and, no doubt, watching.  He finally met the renowned speaker, Ambrose and was baptized by him in Rome when he was well into his 30’s.  Prior to his Baptism, Augustine attempted to defy his mother’s faith and did all in his power to escape her grasp.  Her patience, hope and perseverance made her the victor however.  Augustine finally admitted that his mother had been very influential in his conversion.

    Augustine’s baptism was not the end of the story.  He became very involved in his community.  Because he was well educated, he was soon made Bishop of Hippo, a diocese in northern Africa.  He remained there until his death in 430 AD.  In his 34 years as bishop Augustine defended the faith against heresies, wrote many treaties on Grace, and delivered many homilies on church doctrine.  He truly became his mother’s son.  One must admit that this story could happen in the 21st century in America.  Will our story go down in history?  Hopefully so!  We certainly have good role models and heaven only knows, we could use many more.
                Lorette P. Nault