The Prayers and Tears of St. Augustine’s Mother

One of my daughters was reading Confessions by St. Augustine about the time I was grieving in tears every day for my prodigal son. I found this story about his mother very consoling because St. Augustine was a prodigal himself who came to be a saint. I’m just going to quote some helpful passages out of the book:

“But you ‘sent down your help from above’ Psalms 144:7, and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son. For in her faith and in the spirit which she had from you she looked on me as dead. You heard her and did not despise the tears which streamed down and watered the earth in every place where she bowed her head in prayer.” (Page 68)

Beautiful photo by Janjan Perez

After this St. Augustine tells a story about a dream that his mother had that consoled her, and that it was still nine years that he “wallowed deep in the mire and the darkness of delusion.” He writes, “Often I tried to lift myself, only to plunge the deeper. Yet all the time this chaste, devout, prudent women, a widow such as is close to your heart, never ceased to pray at all hours and to offer You the tears she shed for me.”

“‘Her prayers reached Your presence’ Psalms 88:2 and yet you still left me to twist and turn in the dark.”

“ I remember that in the meantime you gave her another answer to her prayers,… “

“This other answer that you gave her through the mouth of one of your priests, a bishop who had lived his life in the Church and was well versed in the Scriptures. My mother asked him, as a favor, to have a talk with me, so that he might refute my errors, drive the evil out of my mind and replace it with good. He often did this when he found suitable pupils, but he refused to do it for me- a wise decision, as I afterwards realized. He told her that I was still unripe for instruction because, as she had told him I was brimming over with the novelty of the heresy and had already upset a great many simple people with my casuistry. ‘Leave him alone’, he said. ‘Just pray to God for him. From his own reading he will discover his mistakes and the depth of his profanity.’ (Page 69)

“Even after my mother heard this my mother still would not be pacified, but persisted all the more with her tears and her entreaties that he should see me and discuss the matter. At last he grew impatient and said ‘Leave me and go in peace. It cannot be that the son of these tears should be lost.’”

“In later years, as we talked together, she used to say that she accepted these words as a message from heaven.”(Page 70)

I hope this will encourage you as it did me that our tears are not in vain. Remember to travail in prayer for our prodigals and offer our tears to our heavenly Father knowing and trusting that He is hearing our pleas and working His perfect way in the hearts of our sons and daughters. You can read more of St. Augustine’s life, if you like, in his book Confessions of St. Augustine.

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4 thoughts on “The Prayers and Tears of St. Augustine’s Mother

  1. How beautiful. One of the problems I have had is equating my tears and sorrow over my sons with not letting go of them. I now can see that they are two separate things and I don't need to feel guilty because I still cry. I have given them to God, but I still have the emotions and the heart of a Mother who cries when she prays for them or longs for them. It has been very freeing for me not to carry that guilt anymore.

  2. The peace that comes from knowing it is o.k. to cry to God for our children. It is o.k. to cry for their future , and because we do grieve. I am now also praying more for the “turning of their hearts back to God and His path” and realizing that if that happens, and It Will, that I will have their heart again! Because when the heart is right with God , it is right with the parents!

  3. Pingback: The Prayers and Tears of St. Augustine’s Mother | Helping Hurting Parents of Prodigals

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