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by Saint Augustine

Confessions Book IX Summary

Section 1

  • You might be wondering: if Augustine has finally converted, why am I only halfway through the book? Well, Augustine isn't out of the woods just yet. 
  • He also wants to talk about free will and how a person should free themselves from worldly pleasures and ambitions.

Section 2

  • Augustine decides that he's going to wait until the end of the autumn holidays (they had school breaks back then, too) before retiring from teaching. That way, he won't attract attention or upset the helicopter parents of his students.

Section 3

  • Augustine and Co. go to stay in the country with this guy named Vercundus, who can't really be a hardcore Christian because he's married. 
  • Vercundus eventually dies while Augustine is away, but fortunately, he was baptized on his sick-bed. So Augustine is confident that he is in heaven, being rewarded for his hospitality to Augustine and his crew.
  • Also, we learn that Nebridius eventually converts, but dies not long after conversion as well. Augustine imagines him up in heaven, consuming knowledge to his heart's content.
  • Back in the present, though, Verecundus misses his old friends and Nebridius is still on the brink of conversion.

Section 4

  • School's out for summer. And Augustine is getting busy writing and reading the Psalms of King David. 
  • This section involves a lot of Augustine crying out to God for his past sins, wishing others could see him so that they would learn that he was once in their position, and looking inward on himself instead of outward to the world for renewed purpose. 
  • Plus, Augustine has a toothache that is miraculously cured once his friends start to pray for him. Wow, we're impressed.

Section 5

  • Augustine notifies the people of Milan that he is officially retired, and writes to Ambrose asking him which books of the Bible he should read. Ambrose recommends Isaiah, but Augustine starts reading it and then puts it down because he finds it too difficult to understand. We have totally been there, Augustine. That's why we made this.

Section 6

  • Augustine and Alypius are baptized at the same time, along with Adeodatus, Augustine's sixteen-year-old son by his long-term mistress. 
  • Adeotatus is super smart for his age, and Augustine even uses him for a Socratic-style dialogue in one of his books. 
  • Adeodatus eventually dies young, but Augustine is confident that he is in heaven because he was just so good, despite being conceived in sin.

Section 7

  • The churches in Milan start to pick up the practice of singing hymns to lift their spirits during periods of persecution. Like when Justina, the mother of the boy emperor, decides that she doesn't like Christians. 
  • Then the location of the lost bodies of two martyrs, Protasius and Gervasius, are revealed to Ambrose in a vision. The relics perform all sorts of miracles, like giving a blind man his sight back.

Section 8

  • A guy named Evodius joins Augustine's posse, and they all decide that it's time to go back to Africa. But then, tragedy strikes: on the journey back, Augustine's mother dies.
  • Augustine attributes his mother's piety to God rather than to her parents and upbringing, and tells us about this super strict old nanny she had. 
  • He recounts an anecdote about how when she was a young girl, she used to sneak wine out of her parents' cellar. She gradually started drinking more and more until one day, during a fight, a servant called her a drunkard. That hit Augustine's mother hard, and she realized her fault. 
  • But don't thank the servant girl for being bitter, says Augustine. Thank God, who used that bitterness for good.

Section 9

  • We learn about Augustine's mother's relationship with his father, Patricius. She was a super patient and subservient wife, and put up with both Patricius's sleeping around and his temper.
  • She never argued with him when he was angry, and in this way, avoided being beaten. 
  • Apparently, she wasn't very well liked by her mother-in-law, though, because the servants all talked smack about her. But Augustine's mom won her over, and her mother-in-law had her son flog the offending servants.
  • Speaking of gossip, Augustine's mother never, ever gossiped. Ever. And before Patricius died, she got him to convert to Christianity. Win for the God Squad.

Section 10

  • A few days before she died, Augustine and his mom were talking about how nothing on earth could compare with the life of the saints. 
  • The conversation keeps getting more and more intense until, at a certain point, it feels like Augustine and his mother touch on what it must be like. 
  • Then they come back down to earth and normal speech, and think about the quality of God's voice. 
  • Augustine's mother remarks that now that she has seen Augustine become Christian, she's got no reason to stick around on earth.

Section 11

  • A few days after this conversation, Augustine's mother catches a fever. 
  • After a bought of unconsciousness, she brings up the fact that it doesn't matter if she isn't buried in her own country. 
  • This is contrary to the wish she once held to be buried next to her husband, but basically she says that it doesn't matter because God will know where she is. 
  • She dies a few days later.

Section 12

  • What's so wrong with crying at a funeral? Augustine's son has no qualms about letting loose the waterworks. But though Augustine feels like crying when his mother dies, he holds it back.
  • To make matters worse, Augustine hates that he even feels like crying. So he doesn't cry at the burial either. 
  • Augustine tries taking a nice bath, but that doesn't help, so he tries to sleep. When he wakes up, the tear-levee breaks, and he cries because he has lost the comfort of his mother. 
  • He asks the reader not to judge him for crying for his mother. Alright already. Sometimes, dudes cry. It's cool, Augustine.

Section 13

  • It's hard to imagine Augustine's mother ever sinning, but Augustine asks God to forgive Monica for any sins she may have committed during her life. 
  • She didn't ask for a fancy burial. She just wanted people to pray for her. 
  • Augustine asks his readers to remember his parents.

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