Honoring St. Augustine today we might see him as torn between his father and his mother, with his father grooming him for earthly happiness, and his mother praying for him to open himself to heavenly joy.
Beginning life as his mother’s boy, Augustine wrote that he sucked in Jesus with his mother’s milk, and as a young catechumen he came close to asking for Baptism. Then, his interest swung towards worldly benefits in his later teen years, with his father fixing him up with a girl to take care of him as he pursued a career in rhetoric in the wild city of Carthage.
In Carthage he made a stab at satisfying both body and soul by enlisting in Manichaeism, a pseudo religion that tried worshiping separate creators of our bodies and souls.
His specialty of Rhetoric consisted in writing persuasive arguments. Today it would make him an advertizing man, but in his world it had him composing speeches for senators. When his profession brought him to the imperial court in Milan, his mother followed him, and she took to urging him to take a professional interest in the persuasive sermons of Bishop Ambrose. He gave in to his mother on that, and he was soon finding that the substance of Ambrose’s sermons was getting to him.
He provided his mistress with enough land to support her and their child, then he took to resuming the life of a catechumen preparing for baptism. Then, perhaps with his departed father’s influence seeping through, he took on another mistress.
Unhappy with himself, he was pacing his garden, and he found himself overhearing children chanting a song that seem to accompany a game they were playing. But, no, the words seemed to be addressed to him. They were singing, “Pick it up and read, pick it up and read.” Seeing a little book laying there, he picked it up, and he read, “Put on Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”