(Augustine, Confessions. Part 14)

was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died.  My
God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now
made his servant and spurning all earthly happiness.  What more am
I to do here?"

                          CHAPTER XI

     27.  I do not well remember what reply I made to her about
this.  However, it was scarcely five days later -- certainly not
much more -- that she was prostrated by fever.  While she was
sick, she fainted one day and was for a short time quite
unconscious.  We hurried to her, and when she soon regained her
senses, she looked at me and my brother[301] as we stood by her,
and said, in inquiry, "Where was I?"  Then looking intently at us,
dumb in our grief, she said, "Here in this place shall you bury
your mother." I was silent and held back my tears; but my brother
said something, wishing her the happier lot of dying in her own
country and not abroad.  When she heard this, she fixed him with
her eye and an anxious countenance, because he savored of such
earthly concerns, and then gazing at me she said, "See how he
speaks." Soon after, she said to us both: "Lay this body anywhere,
and do not let the care of it be a trouble to you at all.  Only
this I ask: that you will remember me at the Lord's altar,
wherever you are." And when she had expressed her wish in such
words as she could, she fell silent, in heavy pain with her
increasing sickness.
     28.  But as I thought about thy gifts, O invisible God, which
thou plantest in the heart of thy faithful ones, from which such
marvelous fruits spring up, I rejoiced and gave thanks to thee,
remembering what I had known of how she had always been much
concerned about her burial place, which she had provided and
prepared for herself by the body of her husband.  For as they had
lived very peacefully together, her desire had always been -- so
little is the human mind capable of grasping things divine -- that
this last should be added to all that happiness, and commented on
by others: that, after her pilgrimage beyond the sea, it would be
granted her that the two of them, so united on earth, should lie
in the same grave.
     When this vanity, through the bounty of thy goodness, had
begun to be no longer in her heart, I do not know; but I joyfully
marveled at what she had thus disclosed to me -- though indeed in
our conversation in the window, when she said, "What is there here
for me to do any more?"  she appeared not to desire to die in her
own country.  I heard later on that, during our stay in Ostia, she
had been talking in maternal confidence to some of my friends
about her contempt of this life and the blessing of death.  When
they were amazed at the courage which was given her, a woman, and
had asked her whether she did not dread having her body buried so
far from her own city, she replied: "Nothing is far from God.  I
do not fear that, at the end of time, he should not know the place
whence he is to resurrect me." And so on the ninth day of her
sickness, in the fifty-sixth year of her life and the thirty-third
of mine,[302] that religious and devout soul was set loose from
the body.

                          CHAPTER XII

     29.  I closed her eyes; and there flowed in a great sadness
on my heart and it was passing into tears, when at the strong
behest of my mind my eyes sucked back the fountain dry, and sorrow
was in me like a convulsion.  As soon as she breathed her last,
the boy Adeodatus burst out wailing; but he was checked by us all,
and became quiet.  Likewise, my own childish feeling which was,
through the youthful voice of my heart, seeking escape in tears,
was held back and silenced.  For we did not consider it fitting to
celebrate that death with tearful wails and groanings.  This is
the way those who die unhappy or are altogether dead are usually
mourned.  But she neither died unhappy nor did she altogether
die.[303]  For of this we were assured by the witness of her good
life, her "faith unfeigned,"[304] and other manifest evidence.
     30.  What was it, then, that hurt me so grievously in my
heart except the newly made wound, caused from having the sweet
and dear habit of living together with her suddenly broken?  I was
full of joy because of her testimony in her last illness, when she
praised my dutiful attention and called me kind, and recalled with
great affection of love that she had never heard any harsh or
reproachful sound from my mouth against her.  But yet, O my God
who made us, how can that honor I paid her be compared with her
service to me?  I was then left destitute of a great comfort in
her, and my soul was stricken; and that life was torn apart, as it
were, which had been made but one out of hers and mine
     31.  When the boy was restrained from weeping, Evodius took
up the Psalter and began to sing, with the whole household
responding, the psalm, "I will sing of mercy and judgment unto
thee, O Lord."[306]  And when they heard what we were doing, many
of the brethren and religious women came together.  And while
those whose office it was to prepare for the funeral went about
their task according to custom, I discoursed in another part of
the house, with those who thought I should not be left alone, on
what was appropriate to the occasion.  By this balm of truth, I
softened the anguish known to thee.  They were unconscious of it
and listened intently and thought me free of any sense of sorrow.
But in thy ears, where none of them heard, I reproached myself for
the mildness of my feelings, and restrained the flow of my grief
which bowed a little to my will.  The paroxysm returned again, and
I knew what I repressed in my heart, even though it did not make
me burst forth into tears or even change my countenance; and I was
greatly annoyed that these human things had such power over me,
which in the due order and destiny of our natural condition must
of necessity happen.  And so with a new sorrow I sorrowed for my
sorrow and was wasted with a twofold sadness.
     32.  So, when the body was carried forth, we both went and
returned without tears.  For neither in those prayers which we
poured forth to thee, when the sacrifice of our redemption was
offered up to thee for her -- with the body placed by the side of
the grave as the custom is there, before it is lowered down into
it -- neither in those prayers did I weep.  But I was most
grievously sad in secret all the day, and with a troubled mind
entreated thee, as I could, to heal my sorrow; but thou didst not.
I now believe that thou wast fixing in my memory, by this one
lesson, the power of the bonds of all habit, even on a mind which
now no longer feeds upon deception.  It then occurred to me that
it would be a good thing to go and bathe, for I had heard that the
word for bath [balneum] took its name from the Greek balaneion,
because it washes anxiety from the mind.  Now see, this also I
confess to thy mercy, "O Father of the fatherless"[307]: I bathed
and felt the same as I had done before.  For the bitterness of my
grief was not sweated from my heart.
     Then I slept, and when I awoke I found my grief not a little
assuaged.  And as I lay there on my bed, those true verses of
Ambrose came to my mind, for thou art truly,

          "Deus, creator omnium,
     Polique rector, vestiens
     Diem decoro lumine,
     Noctem sopora gratia;
          Artus solutos ut quies
     Reddat laboris usui
     Mentesque fessas allevet,
     Luctusque solvat anxios."

     "O God, Creator of us all,
     Guiding the orbs celestial,
     Clothing the day with lovely light,
     Appointing gracious sleep by night:
     Thy grace our wearied limbs restore

     To strengthened labor, as before,
     And ease the grief of tired minds
     From that deep torment which it finds."[308]

     33.  And then, little by little, there came back to me my
former memories of thy handmaid: her devout life toward thee, her
holy tenderness and attentiveness toward us, which had suddenly
been taken away from me -- and it was a solace for me to weep in
thy sight, for her and for myself, about her and about myself.
Thus I set free the tears which before I repressed, that they
might flow at will, spreading them out as a pillow beneath my
heart.  And it rested on them, for thy ears were near me -- not
those of a man, who would have made a scornful comment about my
weeping.  But now in writing I confess it to thee, O Lord!  Read
it who will, and comment how he will, and if he finds me to have
sinned in weeping for my mother for part of an hour -- that mother
who was for a while dead to my eyes, who had for many years wept
for me that I might live in thy eyes -- let him not laugh at me;
but if he be a man of generous love, let him weep for my sins
against thee, the Father of all the brethren of thy Christ.

                         CHAPTER XIII

     34.  Now that my heart is healed of that wound -- so far as
it can be charged against me as a carnal affection -- I pour out
to thee, O our God, on behalf of thy handmaid, tears of a very
different sort: those which flow from a spirit broken by the
thoughts of the dangers of every soul that dies in Adam.  And
while she had been "made alive" in Christ[309] even before she was
freed from the flesh, and had so lived as to praise thy name both
by her faith and by her life, yet I would not dare say that from
the time thou didst regenerate her by baptism no word came out of
her mouth against thy precepts.  But it has been declared by thy
Son, the Truth, that "whosoever shall say to his brother, You
fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire."[310]  And there would be
doom even for the life of a praiseworthy man if thou judgedst it
with thy mercy set aside.  But since thou dost not so stringently
inquire after our sins, we hope with confidence to find some place
in thy presence.  But whoever recounts his actual and true merits
to thee, what is he doing but recounting to thee thy own gifts?
Oh, if only men would know themselves as men, then "he that
glories" would "glory in the Lord"[311]!
     35.  Thus now, O my Praise and my Life, O God of my heart,
forgetting for a little her good deeds for which I give joyful
thanks to thee, I now beseech thee for the sins of my mother.
Hearken unto me, through that Medicine of our wounds, who didst
hang upon the tree and who sittest at thy right hand "making
intercession for us."[312]  I know that she acted in mercy, and
from the heart forgave her debtors their debts.[313]  I beseech
thee also to forgive her debts, whatever she contracted during so
many years since the water of salvation.  Forgive her, O Lord,
forgive her, I beseech thee; "enter not into judgment" with
her.[314]  Let thy mercy be exalted above thy justice, for thy
words are true and thou hast promised mercy to the merciful, that
the merciful shall obtain mercy.[315]  This is thy gift, who hast
mercy on whom thou wilt and who wilt have compassion on whom thou
dost have compassion on.[316]
     36.  Indeed, I believe thou hast already done what I ask of
thee, but "accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O
Lord."[317]  For when the day of her dissolution was so close, she
took no thought to have her body sumptuously wrapped or embalmed
with spices.  Nor did she covet a handsome monument, or even care
to be buried in her own country.  About these things she gave no
commands at all, but only desired to have her name remembered at
thy altar, where she had served without the omission of a single
day, and where she knew that the holy sacrifice was dispensed by
which that handwriting that was against us is blotted out; and
that enemy vanquished who, when he summed up our offenses and
searched for something to bring against us, could find nothing in
Him, in whom we conquer.
     Who will restore to him the innocent blood?  Who will repay
him the price with which he bought us, so as to take us from him?
Thus to the sacrament of our redemption did thy hand maid bind her
soul by the bond of faith.  Let none separate her from thy
protection.  Let not the "lion" and "dragon" bar her way by force
or fraud.  For she will not reply that she owes nothing, lest she
be convicted and duped by that cunning deceiver.  Rather, she will
answer that her sins are forgiven by Him to whom no one is able to
repay the price which he, who owed us nothing, laid down for us
     37.  Therefore, let her rest in peace with her husband,
before and after whom she was married to no other man; whom she
obeyed with patience, bringing fruit to thee that she might also
win him for thee.  And inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire thy
servants, my brothers; thy sons, my masters, who with voice and
heart and writings I serve, that as many of them as shall read
these confessions may also at thy altar remember Monica, thy
handmaid, together with Patricius, once her husband; by whose
flesh thou didst bring me into this life, in a manner I know not.
May they with pious affection remember my parents in this
transitory life, and remember my brothers under thee our Father in
our Catholic mother; and remember my fellow citizens in the
eternal Jerusalem, for which thy people sigh in their pilgrimage
from birth until their return.  So be fulfilled what my mother
desired of me -- more richly in the prayers of so many gained for
her through these confessions of mine than by my prayers alone.

                          BOOK TEN

     From autobiography to self-analysis.  Augustine turns from
his memories of the past to the inner mysteries of memory itself.
In doing so, he reviews his motives for these written
"confessions," and seeks to chart the path by which men come to
God.  But this brings him into the intricate analysis of memory
and its relation to the self and its powers.  This done, he
explores the meaning and mode of true prayer.  In conclusion, he
undertakes a detailed analysis of appetite and the temptations to
which the flesh and the soul are heirs, and comes finally to see
how necessary and right it was for the Mediator between God and
man to have been the God-Man.

                           CHAPTER I

     1.  Let me know thee, O my Knower; let me know thee even as I
am known.[318]  O Strength of my soul, enter it and prepare it for
thyself that thou mayest have and hold it, without "spot or
blemish."[319]  This is my hope, therefore have I spoken; and in
this hope I rejoice whenever I rejoice aright.  But as for the
other things of this life, they deserve our lamentations less, the
more we lament them; and some should be lamented all the more, the
less men care for them.  For see, "Thou desirest truth"[320] and
"he who does the truth comes to the light."[321]  This is what I
wish to do through confession in my heart before thee, and in my
writings before many witnesses.

                          CHAPTER II

     2.  And what is there in me that could be hidden from thee,
Lord, to whose eyes the abysses of man's conscience are naked,
even if I were unwilling to confess it to thee?  In doing so I
would only hide thee from myself, not myself from thee.  But now
that my groaning is witness to the fact that I am dissatisfied
with myself, thou shinest forth and satisfiest.  Thou art beloved
and desired; so that I blush for myself, and renounce myself and
choose thee, for I can neither please thee nor myself except in
thee.  To thee, then, O Lord, I am laid bare, whatever I am, and I
have already said with what profit I may confess to thee.  I do
not do it with words and sounds of the flesh but with the words of
the soul, and with the sound of my thoughts, which thy ear knows.
For when I am wicked, to confess to thee means nothing less than
to be dissatisfied with myself; but when I am truly devout, it
means nothing less than not to attribute my virtue to myself;
because thou, O Lord, blessest the righteous, but first thou
justifiest him while he is yet ungodly.  My confession therefore,
O my God, is made unto thee silently in thy sight -- and yet not
silently.  As far as sound is concerned, it is silent.  But in
strong affection it cries aloud.  For neither do I give voice to
something that sounds right to men, which thou hast not heard from
me before, nor dost thou hear anything of the kind from me which
thou didst not first say to me.

                          CHAPTER III

     3.  What is it to me that men should hear my confessions as
if it were they who were going to cure all my infirmities?  People
are curious to know the lives of others, but slow to correct their
own.  Why are they anxious to hear from me what I am, when they
are unwilling to hear from thee what they are?  And how can they
tell when they hear what I say about myself whether I speak the
truth, since no man knows what is in a man "save the spirit of man
which is in him"[322]?  But if they were to hear from thee
something concerning themselves, they would not be able to say,
"The Lord is lying." For what does it mean to hear from thee about
themselves but to know themselves?  And who is he that knows
himself and says, "This is false," unless he himself is lying?
But, because "love believes all things"[323] -- at least among
those who are bound together in love by its bonds -- I confess to
thee, O Lord, so that men may also hear; for if I cannot prove to
them that I confess the truth, yet those whose ears love opens to
me will believe me.
     4.  But wilt thou, O my inner Physician, make clear to me
what profit I am to gain in doing this?  For the confessions of my
past sins (which thou hast "forgiven and covered"[324] that thou
mightest make me blessed in thee, transforming my soul by faith
and thy sacrament), when _they_ are read and heard, may stir up
the heart so that it will stop dozing along in despair, saying, "I
cannot"; but will instead awake in the love of thy mercy and the
sweetness of thy grace, by which he that is weak is strong,
provided he is made conscious of his own weakness.  And it will
please those who are good to hear about the past errors of those
who are now freed from them.  And they will take delight, not
because they are errors, but because they were and are so no
longer.  What profit, then, O Lord my God -- to whom my conscience
makes her daily confession, far more confident in the hope of thy
mercy than in her own innocence -- what profit is there, I ask
thee, in confessing to men in thy presence, through this book,
both what I am now as well as what I have been?  For I have seen
and spoken of my harvest of things past.  But what am I _now_, at
this very moment of making my confessions?  Many different people
desire to know, both those who know me and those who do not know
me.  Some have heard about me or from me, but their ear is not
close to my heart, where I am whatever it is that I am.  They have
the desire to hear me confess what I am within, where they can
neither extend eye nor ear nor mind.  They desire as those willing
to believe -- but will they understand?  For the love by which
they are good tells them that I am not lying in my confessions,
and the love in them believes me.

                          CHAPTER IV

     5.  But for what profit do they desire this?  Will they wish
me happiness when they learn how near I have approached thee, by
thy gifts?  And will they pray for me when they learn how much I
am still kept back by my own weight?  To such as these I will
declare myself.  For it is no small profit, O Lord my God, that
many people should give thanks to thee on my account and that many
should entreat thee for my sake.  Let the brotherly soul love in
me what thou teachest him should be loved, and let him lament in
me what thou teachest him should be lamented.  Let it be the soul
of a brother that does this, and not a stranger -- not one of
those "strange children, whose mouth speaks vanity, and whose
right hand is the right hand of falsehood."[325]  But let my
brother do it who, when he approves of me, rejoices for me, but
when he disapproves of me is sorry for me; because whether he
approves or disapproves, he loves me.  To such I will declare
myself.  Let them be refreshed by my good deeds and sigh over my
evil ones.  My good deeds are thy acts and thy gifts; my evil ones
are my own faults and thy judgment.  Let them breathe expansively
at the one and sigh over the other.  And let hymns and tears
ascend in thy sight out of their brotherly hearts -- which are thy
censers.[326]  And, O Lord, who takest delight in the incense of
thy holy temple, have mercy upon me according to thy great mercy,
for thy name's sake.  And do not, on any account whatever, abandon
what thou hast begun in me.  Go on, rather, to complete what is
yet imperfect in me.
     6.  This, then, is the fruit of my confessions (not of what I
was, but of what I am), that I may not confess this before thee
alone, in a secret exultation with trembling and a secret sorrow
with hope, but also in the ears of the believing sons of men --
who are the companions of my joy and sharers of my mortality, my
fellow citizens and fellow pilgrims -- those who have gone before
and those who are to follow after, as well as the comrades of my
present way.  These are thy servants, my brothers, whom thou
desirest to be thy sons.  They are my masters, whom thou hast
commanded me to serve if I desire to live with and in thee.  But
this thy Word would mean little to me if it commanded in words
alone, without thy prevenient action.  I do this, then, both in
act and word.  I do this under thy wings, in a danger too great to
risk if it were not that under thy wings my soul is subject to
thee, and my weakness known to thee.  I am insufficient, but my
Father liveth forever, and my Defender is sufficient for me.  For
he is the Selfsame who didst beget me and who watcheth over me;
thou art the Selfsame who art all my good.  Thou art the
Omnipotent, who art with me, even before I am with thee.  To
those, therefore, whom thou commandest me to serve, I will
declare, not what I was, but what I now am and what I will
continue to be.  But I do not judge myself.  Thus, therefore, let
me be heard.

                           CHAPTER V

     7.  For it is thou, O Lord, who judgest me.  For although no
man "knows the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which
is in him,"[327] yet there is something of man which "the spirit
of the man which is in him" does not know itself.  But thou, O
Lord, who madest him, knowest him completely.  And even I --
though in thy sight I despise myself and count myself but dust and
ashes -- even I know something about thee which I do not know
about myself.  And it is certain that "now we see through a glass
darkly," not yet "face to face."[328]  Therefore, as long as I
journey away from thee, I am more present with myself than with
thee.  I know that thou canst not suffer violence, but I myself do
not know what temptations I can resist, and what I cannot.  But
there is hope, because thou art faithful and thou wilt not allow
us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist, but wilt with the
temptation also make a way of escape that we may be able to bear
it.  I would therefore confess what I know about myself; I will
also confess what I do not know about myself.  What I do know of
myself, I know from thy enlightening of me; and what I do not know
of myself, I will continue not to know until the time when my
"darkness is as the noonday"[329] in thy sight.

                          CHAPTER VI

     8.  It is not with a doubtful consciousness, but one fully
certain that I love thee, O Lord.  Thou hast smitten my heart with
thy Word, and I have loved thee.  And see also the heaven, and
earth, and all that is in them -- on every side they tell me to
love thee, and they do not cease to tell this to all men, "so that
they are without excuse."[330]  Wherefore, still more deeply wilt
thou have mercy on whom thou wilt have mercy, and compassion on
whom thou wilt have compassion.[331]  For otherwise, both heaven
and earth would tell abroad thy praises to deaf ears.
     But what is it that I love in loving thee?  Not physical
beauty, nor the splendor of time, nor the radiance of the light --
so pleasant to our eyes -- nor the sweet melodies of the various
kinds of songs, nor the fragrant smell of flowers and ointments
and spices; not manna and honey, not the limbs embraced in
physical love -- it is not these I love when I love my God.  Yet
it is true that I love a certain kind of light and sound and
fragrance and food and embrace in loving my God, who is the light
and sound and fragrance and food and embracement of my inner man
-- where that light shines into my soul which no place can
contain, where time does not snatch away the lovely sound, where
no breeze disperses the sweet fragrance, where no eating
diminishes the food there provided, and where there is an embrace
that no satiety comes to sunder.  This is what I love when I love
my God.
     9.  And what is this God?  I asked the earth, and it
answered, "I am not he"; and everything in the earth made the same
confession.  I asked the sea and the deeps and the creeping
things, and they replied, "We are not your God; seek above us." I
asked the fleeting winds, and the whole air with its inhabitants
answered, "Anaximenes[332] was deceived; I am not God." I asked
the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars; and they answered, "Neither
are we the God whom you seek." And I replied to all these things
which stand around the door of my flesh: "You have told me about
my God, that you are not he.  Tell me something about him." And
with a loud voice they all cried out, "He made us." My question
had come from my observation of them, and their reply came from
their beauty of order.  And I turned my thoughts into myself and
said, "Who are you?"  And I answered, "A man." For see, there is
in me both a body and a soul; the one without, the other within.
In which of these should I have sought my God, whom I had already
sought with my body from earth to heaven, as far as I was able to
send those messengers -- the beams of my eyes?  But the inner part
is the better part; for to it, as both ruler and judge, all these
messengers of the senses report the answers of heaven and earth
and all the things therein, who said, "We are not God, but he made
us." My inner man knew these things through the ministry of the
outer man, and I, the inner man, knew all this -- I, the soul,
through the senses of my body.[333]  I asked the whole frame of
earth about my God, and it answered, "I am not he, but he made
     10.  Is not this beauty of form visible to all whose senses
are unimpaired?  Why, then, does it not say the same things to
all?  Animals, both small and great, see it but they are unable to
interrogate its meaning, because their senses are not endowed with
the reason that would enable them to judge the evidence which the
senses report.  But man can interrogate it, so that "the invisible
things of him . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made."[334]  But men love these created things too
much; they are brought into subjection to them -- and, as
subjects, are not able to judge.  None of these created things
reply to their questioners unless they can make rational
judgments.  The creatures will not alter their voice -- that is,
their beauty of form -- if one man simply sees what another both
sees and questions, so that the world appears one way to this man
and another to that.  It appears the same way to both; but it is
mute to this one and it speaks to that one.  Indeed, it actually
speaks to all, but only they understand it who compare the voice
received from without with the truth within.  For the truth says
to me, "Neither heaven nor earth nor anybody is your God." Their
very nature tells this to the one who beholds[335] them.  "They
are a mass, less in part than the whole." Now, O my soul, you are
my better part, and to you I speak; since you animate the whole
mass of your body, giving it life, whereas no body furnishes life
to a body.  But your God is the life of your life.

                          CHAPTER VII

     11.  What is it, then, that I love when I love my God?  Who
is he that is beyond the topmost point of my soul?  Yet by this
very soul will I mount up to him.  I will soar beyond that power
of mine by which I am united to the body, and by which the whole
structure of it is filled with life.  Yet it is not by that vital
power that I find my God.  For then "the horse and the mule, that
have no understanding,"[336] also might find him, since they have
the same vital power, by which their bodies also live.  But there
is, besides the power by which I animate my body, another by which
I endow my flesh with sense -- a power that the Lord hath provided
for me; commanding that the eye is not to hear and the ear is not
to see, but that I am to see by the eye and to hear by the ear;
and giving to each of the other senses its own proper place and
function, through the diversity of which I, the single mind, act.
I will soar also beyond this power of mine, for the horse and mule
have this too, for they also perceive through their bodily senses.

                         CHAPTER VIII

     12.  I will soar, then, beyond this power of my nature also,
still rising by degrees toward him who made me.  And I enter the
fields and spacious halls of memory, where are stored as treasures
the countless images that have been brought into them from all
manner of things by the senses.  There, in the memory, is likewise
stored what we cogitate, either by enlarging or reducing our
perceptions, or by altering one way or another those things which
the senses have made contact with; and everything else that has
been entrusted to it and stored up in it, which oblivion has not
yet swallowed up and buried.
     When I go into this storehouse, I ask that what I want should
be brought forth.  Some things appear immediately, but others
require to be searched for longer, and then dragged out, as it
were, from some hidden recess.  Other things hurry forth in
crowds, on the other hand, and while something else is sought and
inquired for, they leap into view as if to say, "Is it not we,
perhaps?"  These I brush away with the hand of my heart from the
face of my memory, until finally the thing I want makes its

(continued in part 15 ...)

file: /pub/resources/text/icp-e/epl-01: agcon-14.txt