St. Monica is a patron saint for mothers and wives. As all mothers know, raising kids can be tough. And as Catholic moms one of our primary goals should be to raise our kids to be saints. We teach our children to pray, to follow the commandments, to go to church on Sundays and Holy Days, and to receive the sacraments. We hope that by leading by example and instilling the faith in our kids they will continue on that path as they get older. But that doesn’t always happen. And once they grow up and become adults they may go astray. So, the best thing to do…PRAY! St. Monica knows all about that and that is why she is such a great saint to turn to when you feel like you need a shoulder to lean on…she’s been there and done that…but she never gave up!
St. Monica was born in the year 332 in Tagaste, North Africa. She had a conversion experience at a young age and lived a life of virtue. Her parents gave her in marriage to a non-Christian man, Patricius. Patricius was not a great husband. He came home drunk every day and had a violent temper and Monica was often the victim of his anger. And he was unfaithful. Monica’s life was full of trials but she endured her trials with patience and kindness. She prayed daily for the conversion of her husband. Her patience and strong faith paid off and Patricius accepted the Christian faith a year before his death. He admitted that he admired her strong faith and it was her ongoing kindness towards him that changed him.
Monica and Patricius had three children but Augustine was the son who gave his mother the worst heart aches. (More about St. Augustine tomorrow)! St. Augustine was an excellent student and was sent to Carthage to develop his talents. Although he excelled in his studies his behavior was unacceptable to his mother. He lived with a woman whom he never married but bore him a son, had various addictions including alcohol, and followed a heresy called Manichaeism.
St. Monica’s heart ached. She never gave up praying for St. Augustine. She would fast and beg God for her son’s conversion. Legend has it that a drain formed in the ground where her tears fell while she prayed for her son.
Monica was ready to disown Augustine but it was revealed in a dream to her that he would eventually come back to the faith. After he finished school, Augustine was a speech teacher in Rome and then a professor in Milan. Monica followed him to these places pleading with him to return to the Christian faith. The local bishop of Milan at that time was Ambrose. Monica confided in Ambrose, who became her spiritual director. He would often console her saying “God’s time will come. Go now, it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish”.
St Monica is not revered as a saint because she is the mother of St. Augustine, but because of her holy life, and her continued persistence in the practice of patience and faith.
St. Ambrose once told St. Monica that she needed to stop talking to St. Augustine about God and start talking to God about Augustine! So pray for your children and anyone you are asking God to bring back to the Faith.
Saint Monica lived in a world in which Christianity was not fully developed. We live in a world where Christianity is increasingly marginalized and children are lead astray from the Faith. This prayer for her intercession is particularly appropriate for today:
Prayer to St. Monica
Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven. Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray.
There is a wonderful Chaplet to St. Monica. The chaplet consists of a medal and 32 beads – one bead for each year St. Monica wept and prayed for the conversion of her son, Augustine. You can find the prayers here: http://www.viarosa.com/VR/StMonica/Chaplets.html