I chose to take my day of the blog tour to look at St. Monica and St. Augustine. (Which, to be fair, was what I thought my assignment was, so maybe my review jumped the gun. No matter. This is just icing on the cake, right?)
So after you've read Scott Hahn's fine Angels and Saints book, what difference will it really make in your life? If you feel drawn to one of the saints or angels you read about, consider striking up a relationship. It will change your life, deepen your faith, and give you a new friend.
Allow me to illustrate.
St. Augustine was my first saint friend. Thanks to a book of daily reflections based on excerpts of his writing, I got to know him before I really invested much thought in my patron saint, Martha.
I could relate to St. Augustine. Stubborn, searching for truth, understanding the reason for living the clean life but not wanting to commit to it fully. He's the poster boy not only for his age but for the ages since then.
Not only that, but he was able to put words to feelings and thoughts that I, a new convert, hadn't really even been able to articulate until I read them and knew how right they were.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.I appreciated his mother, St. Monica, who followed her wayward son from city to city, reasoning with him and crying for his conversion and, most importantly, never ceasing her prayers. For 17 years.
[Side note about St. Monica. This is all most books ever tell you. I recently read St. Augustine's Confessions. Oh, yes, did I mention he wrote the first autobiography? Yep. Anyway, he gives full tribute to his mother's role as a role model and in saving his soul. He also gives a lot of her own personal story which shows she was a woman who fought her own personal demons and won, while serving as a splendid example to the women in her town. Definitely read it. I recommend the middle third if, like me, you have trouble getting into it.]
Soon after I learned all this about St. Augustine and St. Monica, I thought of my parents. Atheists, not probably going to listen to me talking about religion, and it troubled me greatly. I felt a greater and greater yearning for them to come to know the happiness and freedom I felt now that I knew Christ.
So I lit a votive candle and enlisted St. Augustine and St. Monica in praying with me for my parents' souls. I vowed that even if it took ten years I'd match Monica's faithfulness in prayer. (Boy oh boy, am I glad that I thought she'd prayed for 10 years and didn't know then that it was 17 years!) I joked to myself that I had visions of sitting by their deathbeds, rosary in hand, not giving up. Little could I foresee that was exactly where I found myself 10 years later as my father was dying. Or how richly God would answer our prayers. It stretched me, it changed me, and I grew during the entire process.
Scott Hahn's book gives a succinct overview of Augustine's life and Monica's influence. However, he doesn't stop there but points out how God used both Monica and Augustine to enrich the lives of each other, those around them, and those who have followed. I especially appreciated the point that St. Augustine wouldn't have been as effective when he was a bishop who was bringing congregations of heretics back to the Catholic faith, if he hadn't had firsthand experience of being a heretic himself.
That's an aspect of Augustine's life I hadn't realized and showed me yet another way I relate to him. As someone raised without any faith, with completely secular values, I am often able to explain to atheists and agnostics what the Catholic point of view might be on a particular issue. I can do it with an understanding of what they believe and where the differences are. Not as well as St. Augustine, but I'm working on getting better at it.