“Pick it up and Read”: Saints Monica and Augustine of Hippo

During our month of saints, we are hearing the stories of seven different saints from Scripture and tradition. There are many ways for our students to learn about their Saints (Check out some suggestions here). Come back all this month, for posts about our seven saints and remember to share what you and your family learn about the saints this month on Facebook with a photo of your flat saint out and about and #CHFSaints. We have already covered the story of Mary Magdalene here.

Saint Monica and Augustine of Hippo

“We are made for you, O God, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in thee.”–Confessions

Augustine wrote more than a hundred books in his lifetime. Some of the most well known are City of God, On the Trinity, On Christian Teaching, and The Confessions.
Augustine wrote more than a hundred books in his lifetime. Some of the most well known are City of God, On the Trinity, On Christian Teaching, and The Confessions.

Monica of Hippo (c. 331-387)

Feast day: August 27

Monica is the mother of Saint Augustine, who writes about her in Confessions. Monica and her prayers were instrumental in Augustine’s religious training and conversion, making her responsible for the spiritual life of one of the Church’s most important theologians.

Symbols: Tears, symbols of prayer (esp. rosary and praying hands). She is sometimes pictured with a scroll that reads, “I cried to the Lord in my distress and he answered me,” from Psalm 120: 1.

Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)

Feast day: August 28

Saint Augustine was an early Christian theologian, philosopher, and Bishop. After many years of mother Monica’s fervent prayers, Augustine converts at the age of 32 when he hears the voice of a child saying “Pick it up and read,” right before picking up a Bible and reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans.Augustine’s writings remind us that we are made as creatures of desire and love, but fall into sin when our lives are not rightly ordered toward God. Desire and love are not bad; indeed, they are gifts, but desire and love have their proper end and goal in worship of God.

Symbols: He is often shown with a Bishop’s hat or staff, book, pen, pear, or heart. That fabulous hipster scarf? A Bishop’s vestment, called an Omophorion (Check out images of some other bishops, like Nicholas of Myra, here).

Why a pear? In Book II of The Confessions, Augustine discusses an incident in which he and friends stole pears from a neighbor’s tree even though there were better pears at home. He is very concerned with this particular sin, saying: “I loved my fall into sin.”

Activities:

Young Children: Augustine wrote more than a hundred books in his lifetime and an unknown number of sermons. With small children, try to determine what a hundred books look like by making ten piles of ten books (Take a picture of your saint at the top of the stack and post it with the #CHFSaints).

Older Children: Write out a collect for Augustine’s Feast day from Holy Women, Holy Men (545) below. Then respond to the prayer by journaling ways we might love and serve God. Use the prayer several times over the next week continuing to add ways to love and serve God.

Lord God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of
the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that
serve you: Help us, following the example of your servant
Augustine of Hippo, so to know you that we may truly
love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you,
whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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