Final conversation

Daily Reading for May 4 • Monica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387

Not long before the day on which she was to leave this life—you knew which day it was to be, O Lord, though we did not—my mother and I were alone, leaning from a window which overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house where we were staying at Ostia. We were talking alone together and our conversation was serene and joyful. In the presence of Truth, which is yourself, we were wondering what the eternal life of the saints would be like, that like which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart conceived. But we laid the lips of our hearts to the heavenly stream that flows from your fountain, the source of all life which is in you, so that as far as it was in our power to do so we might be sprinkled with its waters and in some sense reach an understanding of this great mystery.

As the flame of love burned stronger in us and raised us higher towards the eternal God, our thoughts ranged over the whole compass of material things in their various degrees, up to the heavens themselves, from which the sun and the moon and the stars shine down upon the earth. Higher still we climbed, thinking and speaking all the while in wonder at all that you have made. And while we spoke of the eternal Wisdom, longing for it and straining for it with all the strength of our hearts, for one fleeting instant we reached out and touched it.

From the Confessions of Augustine of Hippo (Penguin Classics, 1962).

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