The
most influential relationship in an individual’s life is often the one with a
person’s Mother. This is the case in the life of St. Augustine who over the
course of his journey to Catholicism was heavily impacted by the actions of his
Mother, Monica. As a child Augustine as a child resents Monica and the
actions she takes in trying to guide him towards Christianity as most children
tend to do. However, as Augustine progresses through his journey he begins to
listen to his Mother’s advice more, and by the end of Monica’s life Augustine
comes to fully embrace and acknowledge Monica’s influence throughout his life.
Even when Augustine is mentored by Ambrose Monica’s influence still has a
greater impact on Augustine’s actions than Ambrose’s teachings. The development
of Augustine’s relationship with his Mother throughout The Confessions provides an example of how powerful a Mother is in
the life of her child.

            Children
often resist the guidance their Mother provides them in attempts to seem mature
and independent. Augustine was not unlike these children and often would not
heed his Mother’s warnings as they seemed like, “mere woman’s talk, which [he]
would have blushed to heed”(St. Augustine 36). 
To the young St. Augustine Monica is a devout Catholic who uses her
faith to justify telling Augustine how to live his life. She is constantly
pushing Augustine into the Catholic faith without providing him the answers to
the questions he desires answers to. It is Augustine’s inability to find
answers in his hometown combined with Monica’s pressures that he is influenced influence
him to leave home in the first place. Monica manages to influence
the life of Augustine in a different way than she initially intends as
Augustine’s resentment towards her ideals is what starts
him on his journey to becoming the Saint that he is known as today.

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On his voyage that began out of
resentment Augustine finds his way to the city of Milan. It is here where
Monica decides to come live with Augustine as she is very worried about his
faith. In order to arrive in Milan,
Monica has to embark on a dangerous journey across the seas. Augustine speaks
of her travels with great admiration:

Amid the perils of the voyage it was
she who kept up the spirits of the sailors, though in the ordinary way it is to
them that inexperienced and frightened travelers look to for reassurance. She,
however dared to promise them that they would come safely to port, because you
yourself had made this promise to her.(94)

This is the first instance that
Augustine displays admiration for his Mother. He seems to take pride in how on
a very dangerous trip Monica stayed strong with unwavering faith in God; when
any other traveler would have been afraid Monica’s love for her son gave her
faith that God would guide her to safety. Similar to the role that sailors play
in an inexperienced travellerstraveler’s
journey, Monica fills that role in this stage of Augustine’s life. At this part
of his adventures Augustine is spiritually lost without a sense of direction,
so Augustine looks towards Monica for reassurance and guidance. It is also at
this time that Augustine encounters Father Ambrose and begins to learn from his
teachings. However, Augustine does not begin listening to his teachings until
after Monica arrives in Milan and encourages Augustine to. Her love and guidance
keep Augustine steady on his path towards conversion. It is St. Monica’s and other Mother’s’
presences that serve
as an anchors
in their children’s lives that influence the children to continue down the path
they have each chosen to walk. [Office1] 

            It
is unfortunately not until Augustine loses that stability Monica provides him
that he realizes how important she is. After Augustine converts to Catholicism
and finds true happiness, Augustine is once again lost with no direction. Once again, Augustine turns to his Mother
for guidance. Augustine leaves his teaching position and returns home to care for Monica who recently
fell ill. She dies but not before Augustine comes to fully realize the
influence she had on his life, “Being now bereft of her comfort, so great a
comfort, my soul was wounded; it was as though my life was rent apart, for
there had been but one life woven out of mine and hers”(177). Augustine now
realizes how much he looked to Monica throughout his life for guidance as a
stabilizing force. With her now dead he has no idea who he can turn to as the
comfort she provided him through her actions has been lost forever and
Augustine is left empty. It is now that Augustine comes to realize without his Mother he
would not have walked the path he did and it pains him that he could not
realize this until after his passing. [Office2] Monica’s
actions provided Augustine with a sense of stability throughout his life that
he was only was able
to realize after her passing.

            St.
Augustine is constantly influenced by his Mother throughout his entire life
regardless of whether he wants to be. She drives him away in his youth and
starts him on his adventure. In the middle of his life it is Monica who
provides him the love and stability he needs to continue on. Even after her
death Augustine uses Monica as an example of how a life should be led feeling a
sense of connectivity with her. These feelings are not unique to Monica and
Augustine’s relationship as they are present in most relationships between a
Mother and her child. The level of depth Augustine reaches with Monica is
unlike anything he has with other characters such as Ambrose. Through thick and
thin a Mother is always their there to act as a rock in her child’s
life and guide them back towards their path. It may be hard to realize as a
child, but a Mother is the most important person in an individual’s life and
should be listened to.

 [Office1]I see what you are getting at here, but how could you phrase this more
smoothly?

 [Office2]Where do you see this in the text? What about Augustine’s comment that
Monica has not expired, but lives on with God?

x

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