Confessions

Dynamic Guide: An Examination of the Role of Women in Men’s Spirituality College

In his Confessions, Saint Augustine presents his female characters, both as wives and as mothers, as guiding presences in the spiritual journey of a man, the latter respecting and honoring the presence of the former in order to achieve a greater moral integrity. However, there lies a caveat wherein though the female counsel is usually esteemed, the nature of the marital or maternal relationship itself is shown as a blameless cause of her occasional inability to honor God’s plan—an inability acknowledged as unavoidable. In either case, the text achieves a duality between demonstrating respect for women as pillars of support for the men in their lives and accepting them as inevitable obstacles to their enlightenment. Indeed, the society in which Augustine lived “took for granted the supportive and unpublic role of women”, yet he himself “did not now seek a wife” as a product of his conversion (xix, 154). While Augustine's elaboration on the marriages of both those in his inner circle and on his own love points to the wives as either guiding their husbands towards piety or preventing them in their spiritual growth, his exploration of Monica’s character paints a picture of a mother as a nurturer of one’s spiritual journey whose...

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