Tuesday, August 27, 2013

St. Monica: Patron Saint of Mothers

Patron of Mothers
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Monica the patron of mothers. St. Monica was married to a pagan and had a son whose lifestyle would have competed with Charlie Sheen's today. Nevertheless, St. Monica prayed daily for the conversion of her husband and son. Eventually both converted to Catholicism. Her son, St. Augustine just happened to turn out to be one of the great saints of the Church.

In Conversation with God
According to the Francis Fernandez (In Conversation with God, Vol. 7, 115-7), St. Monica "exerted a profound influence on all those who formed part of the family circle." Quoting from St Augustine, Fernandez writes that Augustine "summarizes the life of his mother in these words: She looks after everyone as if she truly were the mother of all She also serves everyone, as if she were the daughter of all." Here is a longer excerpt from Fernandez's commentary:
St. Monica constantly kept the conversion of her son in mind. She wept much, begged God insistently, and never stopped asking good and wise people to speak to her son and try to convince him to abandon his errors. One day St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, whom she had already visited several times, took his leave from her in words that have been the consolation of so many mothers and fathers throughout the centuries: Go away from me now. As you live, it is impossible that the son of such tears should perish. The example of St Monica remained engraved on the soul of St. Augustine so that years later, perhaps recalling his mother, he exhorted: Do everything in your power to obtain the salvation of those in your family.  The family is truly the appropriate place for children to receive, develop, and often recover the Faith. How pleasing to the Lord to see the Christian family as truly a "domestic church": a place of prayer and of the transmission of faith, of leaming through the example of the older ones and of solid Christian attitudes preserved throughout life as a most sacred legacy. People said of St Monica that she was 'twice mother of St Augustine; since she not only gave him birth, but also won for him the Catholic faith and a Christian life. Thus, all Christian parents are called to be procreators of their children twice over - as far as their natural life is concerned, and with respect to their spiritual vitality in Christ. They will receive a double reward from the Lord and twice the joy in heaven.
19.2 Transmitting the faith in the family. Family piety. Prayer for one's children should never slacken. It is always effective, even if at times, as in the case of St Augustine, the fruit of the prayer is slow in corning. All prayer for the family is very pleasing to the Lord, especially when accompanied by our diligent efforts to lead an exemplary life. St Augustine says of his mother: She strove to win him to you, speaking to him about you through her conduct, by which you made her beautiful, an object of reverent love, and a source of admiration to her husband. If we want to lead those around us to God, our example and joy need to come first. Complaints, bad moods and bitter zeal achieve little or nothing. Constancy, peace, cheerfulness and humble and persevering prayer to our Lord gain all things. The Lord makes use of the prayer, example and the words of parents to forge the souls of their children.
Intercedes for Lost Souls
For all those who suffer because a loved one has left the Church, ask St. Monica for her help and intercession. I know my mother invoked her intercession while I was lost in the desert of self absorption and sin. Like St. Monica, my mother prayed for nearly twenty years for my return to the Church. In that sense, Mom gave birth to my renewed life in Christ.

I am sure other mothers (and fathers) have similar stories to share.

St. Monica pray for us and those we love, especially those searching for the truth. May they find the truth in He who is Truth. Amen.

Apostleship of Prayer