Monica, mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387
I cry aloud to God; I cry aloud to God and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I have sought the Lord; by night my hand is stretched out and does not tire, my soul refuses comfort. I think upon God and I groan; I ponder, and my spirit faints. You will not let my eyelids close; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old; I remember the years long past; I commune with my heart in the night; my spirit searches for understanding.
Will the Lord cast us off for ever?
Will he no more show us his favour?
Has his loving mercy clean gone for ever?
Has his promise come to an end for evermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he shut up his compassion in displeasure?
And I said, ‘My grief is this: that the right hand of the Most High has lost its strength.’
I will remember the works of the Lord and call to mind your wonders of old time.
I will meditate on all your works and ponder your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy; who is so great a god as our God?
You are the God who worked wonders and declared your power among the peoples. With a mighty arm you redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.
The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and were afraid; the depths also were troubled.
The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side;
The voice of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the ground; the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, but your footsteps were not known. You led your people like sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
1 Samuel 28.3-end
Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. Saul had expelled the mediums and the wizards from the land. The Philistines assembled, and came and encamped at Shunem. Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ His servants said to him, ‘There is a medium at Endor.’
So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, ‘Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you.’ The woman said to him, ‘Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?’ But Saul swore to her by the Lord, ‘As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.’ Then the woman said, ‘Whom shall I bring up for you?’ He answered, ‘Bring up Samuel for me.’ When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, ‘Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!’ The king said to her, ‘Have no fear; what do you see?’ The woman said to Saul, ‘I see a divine being coming up out of the ground.’ He said to her, ‘What is his appearance?’ She said, ‘An old man is coming up; he is wrapped in a robe.’ So Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.
Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’ Saul answered, ‘I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; so I have summoned you to tell me what I should do.’ Samuel said, ‘Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you just as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbour David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.’
Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. The woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, ‘Your servant has listened to you; I have taken my life in my hand, and have listened to what you have said to me. Now therefore, you also listen to your servant; let me set a morsel of bread before you. Eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.’ He refused, and said, ‘I will not eat.’ But his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he listened to their words. So he got up from the ground and sat on the bed. Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house. She quickly slaughtered it, and she took flour, kneaded it, and baked unleavened cakes. She put them before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, ‘What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.
After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
“Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.”
For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
who strengthened Monica, the mother of Augustine, with wisdom,
and through her patient endurance encouraged him to seek after you:
give us the will to persist in prayer that those who stray from you may be brought to faith in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.