Originally for this week I was going to wrap up the five reasons why God is real from the book, “The God Answers”. But while praying during Holy Hour in Adoration last Tuesday, I began reflecting on the life of St. Monica. It was her Feast Day, and the Lord moved me to write about her this week instead.
St. Monica (322-387 A.D.) was raised in a Christian home in North Africa. Early in life she struggled with alcoholism, sneaking wine from the family cellar, before being caught and overcoming the habit. She was given in marriage to an ill-tempered and adulterous pagan Roman official. She suffered greatly because of her husband and unkind mother-in-law who she lived with. Monica prayed hard for their conversion for many years. Her patience and kindness became a source of encouragement for other women in similar situations. Monica gave birth to three children, and was deeply saddened that her husband would not allow them to be baptized. Her oldest son, Augustine, caused her the most pain.
Augustine became very involved with groups who spread heresies about the Church. He was intrigued with worldly attractions, lust for women, and pagan philosophies. Monica was distressed to learn that her son was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. Despite the great anxiety and pain he caused her, Monica never stopped praying for him.
Eventually, through her persistence in prayer and good example, Monica’s husband converted to Christianity shortly before his death. Augustine experienced a profound conversion. He was baptized, and lived the rest of his life in holiness, prayer, and penance. Augustine became a priest, bishop, theologian, writer, and the founder of a religious order of priests. Augustine was declared a Saint and Doctor of the Church. He is considered one of the most influential saints and theologians to have ever lived. His writings are widely read to this very day. As for St. Monica, everything we know of her heroic virtue is from the writings of her son.
As parents, it’s hard to watch our children wander away from the Church and live a wayward lifestyle. St. Monica is a model of patience for parents. Her long years of prayer, coupled with a strong, well-disciplined character, finally led to the conversion of her hot-tempered husband, her cantankerous mother-in-law and her brilliant but wayward son. May she be an example for us to never give up. St. Monica is the patron saint of home makers, difficult marriages, alcoholism, abuse victims, victims of adultery, widows, and parents facing family difficulties. Her feast day is August 27th.
May we pray this week… St. Monica, for the sake of my children, please teach me to persist in faithful prayer as you did for your son’s sake. Inspire me to behave in ways that will gently bring my children closer to Christ. Pray for me, and for my children, that we may acquire heaven, joining with you, there, in offering constant and thankful praise to God. Amen
PS – Next week, we will finish “Is God Real?” with Reason No. 5 – Personal Experience.