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The Confessions of Saint Augustine
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O Thou, my hope from my youth, where wert Thou to me, and whither wert Thou gone?
Hadst not Thou created me, and separated me from the beasts of the field, and fowls of
the air? Thou hadst made me wiser, yet did I walk in darkness, and in slippery places, and
sought Thee abroad out of myself, and found not the God of my heart; and had come into
the depths of the sea, and distrusted and despaired of ever finding truth. My mother had
now come to me, resolute through piety, following me over sea and land, in all perils
confiding in Thee. For in perils of the sea, she comforted the very mariners (by whom
passengers unacquainted with the deep, use rather to be comforted when troubled),
assuring them of a safe arrival, because Thou hadst by a vision assured her thereof. She
found me in grievous peril, through despair of ever finding truth. But when I had
discovered to her that I was now no longer a Manichee, though not yet a Catholic
Christian, she was not overjoyed, as at something unexpected; although she was now
assured concerning that part of my misery, for which she bewailed me as one dead,
though to be reawakened by Thee, carrying me forth upon the bier of her thoughts, that
Thou mightest say to the son of the widow, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise; and he
should revive, and begin to speak, and Thou shouldest deliver him to his mother. Her
heart then was shaken with no tumultuous exultation, when she heard that what she daily
with tears desired of Thee was already in so great part realised; in that, though I had not
yet attained the truth, I was rescued from falsehood; but, as being assured, that Thou,
Who hadst promised the whole, wouldest one day give the rest, most calmly, and with a
heart full of confidence, she replied to me, "She believed in Christ, that before she
departed this life, she should see me a Catholic believer." Thus much to me. But to Thee,
Fountain of mercies, poured she forth more copious prayers and tears, that Thou wouldest
hasten Thy help, and enlighten my darkness; and she hastened the more eagerly to the
Church, and hung upon the lips of Ambrose, praying for the fountain of that water, which
springeth up unto life everlasting. But that man she loved as an angel of God, because she
knew that by him I had been brought for the present to that doubtful state of faith I now
was in, through which she anticipated most confidently that I should pass from sickness
unto health, after the access, as it were, of a sharper fit, which physicians call "the crisis."
When then my mother had once, as she was wont in Afric, brought to the Churches built
in memory of the Saints, certain cakes, and bread and wine, and was forbidden by the
door-keeper; so soon as she knew that the Bishop had forbidden this, she so piously and
obediently embraced his wishes, that I myself wondered how readily she censured her
own practice, rather than discuss his prohibition. For wine-bibbing did not lay siege to
her spirit, nor did love of wine provoke her to hatred of the truth, as it doth too many
(both men and women), who revolt at a lesson of sobriety, as men well-drunk at a draught
mingled with water. But she, when she had brought her basket with the accustomed
festival-food, to be but tasted by herself, and then given away, never joined therewith
more than one small cup of wine, diluted according to her own abstemious habits, which
for courtesy she would taste. And if there were many churches of the departed saints that
were to be honoured in that manner, she still carried round that same one cup, to be used
every where; and this, though not only made very watery, but unpleasantly heated with