Memorial of St Monica (332-387). Paintings by Alexandre Cabanel.
"Our knowledge of Monica comes almost entirely from the writings of her much-loved son, the great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo. His relationship with his mother was a close one, especially during Monica's last years. In Book IX of St. Augustine's <Confessions> he gives us many details of her life, and expresses his gratitude for her devotion in moving terms."
Monica was born of a Christian family about the year 332 in Tagaste, North Africa, of a Christian family of some substance. North Africa was a center of Christianity—Carthage, North Africa, which is Tunis in Tunisia today. It was a major city of learning, second only to Rome.
When she reached a marriageable age, her parents selected Patricius, a pagan as her husband. It was a difficult marriage for Monica, however, when Augustine was 17, Patricius converted to Christianity; just a year before his death.
Monica continued to pray and anguish over Augustine and his pagan lifestyle. While in Milan, Monica found Saint Ambrose (one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century) and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield to God:
“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.” ― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
More at the bottom: A brilliant mind blinded by sin.
About The Artist
"Cabanel entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the age of seventeen, and studied with François-Édouard Picot. He exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time in 1844, and won the Prix de Rome scholarship in 1845 at the age of 22, Cabanel was elected a member of the Institute in 1863. He was appointed professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1864 and taught there until his death.
He was closely connected to the Paris Salon: 'He was elected regularly to the Salon jury and his pupils could be counted by the hundred at the Salons. Through them, Cabanel did more than any other artist of his generation to form the character of belle époque French painting.' His refusal together with William-Adolphe Bouguereau to allow the impressionist painter Édouard Manet and many other painters to exhibit their work in the Salon of 1863 led to the establishment of the Salon des Refusés by the French government. Cabanel won the Grande Médaille d'Honneur at the Salons of 1865, 1867, and 1878."
"In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them" (St Augustine in Psalm. LIV, n.19).
And this indeed most deservedly; for they who take from Christian doctrine what they please lean on their own judgements, not on faith; and not bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ (Cor. X,5), they more truly obey themselves than God.
"You, who believe what you like of the gospels and believe not what you like, believe yourselves rather than the gospel" '
(St Augustine, lib. XVII., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3).
“He treated me with mercy”.
“I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience”
St Paul, (1 Tim 1:12-16a).
A brilliant mind blinded by sin
Despite his brilliant mind and Christian upbringing, Augustine, ceding to the seductions of the half-pagan city and the licentiousness of his fellow students, embraced a life of hedonism, immorality, and false beliefs. For nearly 15 years he kept a concubine with whom he had a son, Adeodatus. Worldly ambitions, intellectual pride and a life of sin and impurity darkened Augustine’s mind, making him seek the truth in all the wrong places. So blinded became his understanding that he abandoned the faith of his mother and (by AD 373) enthusiastically embraced the dreadful Manichaean heresy. (Rather than a Christian heresy Manichaeism was actually a pagan religion, based on dualism, which borrowed elements from Christianity, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, etc.)
Augustine was restless in his search for the Truth. His pride – cause of his displeasure with the Sacred Scriptures, the humility and simplicity of which he found offensive to his intellect – was flattered by the Manichaeans who promised knowledge of nature and its laws, and answers to all the philosophical and spiritual questions, in particular to the “problem of evil” that Augustine had been troubled by.
The Manichaeans believed that the world was in perfect tension between two equal powers, a good and an evil one, an inevitable struggle between the spiritual world of light and the material world of darkness. Their doctrine, which ultimately denied liberty and attributed the commission of evil to an outside force, was convenient for Augustine who was living a life of lust and sin.
He would later admit in his Confessions: “I still thought that it is not we who sin but some other nature that sins within us. It flattered my pride to think that I incurred no guilt and, when I did wrong, not to confess it… I preferred to excuse myself and blame this unknown thing which was in me but was not part of me. The truth, of course, was that it was all my own self, and my own impiety had divided me against myself. My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner.” http://www.traditionalcatholic.co/tag/manichaeism/
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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