Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday Fiction: TO MY MOST BELOVED

I am delighted to be the hostess for Friday Fiction this week. Friday Fiction is a meme originated and organized by Patty (otherwise known as Peej) at Patty’s Patterings. If you would like to participate, just post your original fiction on your own blog and link up to Mister Linky at the bottom of this page. Don’t forget to leave a comment as well, and read and comment on all of the other great fiction posted by today’s participants.

I wrote the following letter as a Faithwriters entry for the historical fiction genre. I had just finished reading St. Augustine’s The Confessions, so I decided to research the historical practices of the time, including letter writing form and attitudes toward marriage and concubines. I also found more information on Augustine, including the information about his son and betrothal. I found it both sad and intriguing. It also helped me to see how we as Christians are influenced by our culture and the times in which we live. The letter is written as though from the concubine.

It is with heaviness of heart that I await my return passage to Carthage on this first day of summer of the year of our Lord three hundred and eighty five. Can it be that thirteen years have passed so swiftly and now must end?

I gaze at Adeodatus, our “gift from God,” as he strolls the dock, and affirm what I know is true. At twelve, he is nearly as tall as I. Shall I ever know the full stature our son attains? After my ship leaves the harbor and when the ink has dried upon these leaves of papyrus he shall deliver my parting thoughts into your hands.

I can scarcely imagine life without my precious Adeodatus. He needs a father, of course, and he shall have the better life with you and your Christian wife. You must see that he respects her. I have petitioned God to remove from me all jealousy and malice. Yet my heart is rent to shreds as I am sent away. It is almost more than I can bear.

It was never my intention to love you. We were young and I knew full well my low estate. And yet you treated me with respect and kindness. I daresay you loved me, too.

The tears that now flow as freely as the ink of my pen are not bitter tears, but grateful ones. Thirteen years of love and passion is more than I ever dreamed possible, though I knew from the beginning it could not last. For you, my beloved, are a man of integrity and honor; and I a mere concubine. The Christian marriage your mother has arranged shall assure your success, while I am but a hindrance in that regard.

You have taught me to look to God for strength, and so I shall continue in the way of faith. Since I cannot be properly wed, I take this day a pledge of celibacy before God. Though others may judge me for my past sins, God is the only true judge and I, even I, a lowly concubine, have found favor in His eyes. This is a great and marvelous mystery.

Selfishness causes me to hope that you shall not forget me; but forget me you must if you are to look fully and unashamedly upon the face of God. I pray His blessings on your home and your marriage, and that you shall be useful to His service.

Fare thee well always, and pray for me; but do not grieve, most dearly beloved and holy man of God.

You are forever in my heart.

Aurelius Augustine spoke highly of his unidentified concubine, grieving her departure and admitting his shame in abandoning her for his own welfare, even though that was the accepted practice of the day. He immediately took up with another woman while waiting for his Christian bride to “come of age.” His lust and lack of restraint weighed heavily on him, however, and as he grew in his faith he determined to take a pledge of monastic celibacy instead of marrying the young girl to whom he was betrothed.

Eventually, Aurelius Augustine became Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. He was canonized in 1303. The Confessions, available in many translations and adaptations, continue to inspire true believers everywhere to come humbly and often before the throne of God.

Saint Augustine, translated by Maria Boulding O.S.B., (2006) The Confessions (7th ed.). New York: New City Press, pp. 156-157.


  1. Awesome look at this time of history and their culture. Really glad the whole concubine way of life fell out of favor in these parts...!

    You really held my attention with her emotions, very well done!

  2. Not just an interesting POV of both characters, but also an excellent reminder that God makes a habit of redeeming flawed vessels. Nicely done.

  3. Oh wow! That was really interesting! I love learning while enjoying a good read--it's the best way. ;)

    Thanks so much for hosting!

  4. I love historical fiction. This was a good read.

  5. Interesting! I never heard this before..well done!

  6. Oh my, that was sad, beautiful,and educational. I loved reading this. Makes me want to cling to our current laws of marriage - one man/one woman - even more.

  7. This is a beautiful picture of letting go. I love reading historical fiction, it helps me to understand history.

  8. You are right - both sad and intriguing! Well written.

  9. This is such a well-written short story. WOW was all I was thinking as I read it.

    You have an amazing gift.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  10. Absolutely FASCINATING history written in an extremely compelling way. WOW, Sharlyn. Thanks for sharing this - AND hosting!

  11. This is so sad and it also makes me grateful that we live in a country and an age where one wife/one husband is the accepted norm for a proper marriage! Excellent writng.

  12. This is marvelous. Wow, I cannot write historical fiction at ALL, so I was fascinated by this. Tugged at my emotions too. Love it, and thanks for hosting.

  13. I didn't know this story, though a friend suggested I would enjoy reading about Augustine.

    Wonderful story, artistically written:-)


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