Saturday, August 26, 2017

Feast of St. Monica, Housewife and Mother

St. Monica's feast day falls on Sunday this year so let's just recognize her the day before instead. Because, as she'd be the first to remind us, no one trumps Jesus and Sunday belongs to him.

Painting of Augustine of Hippo and his mother Monica of Hippo,
Ary Scheffer, 1846, via Wikipedia
Widow; born of Christian parents at Tagaste, North Africa, in 333; died at Ostia, near Rome, in 387.

She was married early in life to Patritius who, a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name. His temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica’s married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius’s mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. Monica’s almsgiving and her habits of prayer annoyed her husband, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence and he converted to Christianity before he died.

Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a veritable apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.

Monica had three children but all her anxiety centred in her oldest son. He was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. As he grew up, he kept seeking the truth but getting interested in heresies. It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.”

There is no more pathetic story in the annals of the Saints than that of Monica pursuing her wayward son to Rome, wither he had gone by stealth; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing her yield, after seventeen years of resistance.

Mother and son had six months of true peace together after his baptism. Then Monica died and her son went on to become St. Augustine, one of the one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity

  • difficult marriages
  • disappointing children
  • victims of adultery or unfaithfulness
  • victims of (verbal) abuse
  • conversion of relatives
I helped out with our parish's RCIA classes for a couple of years and would give a talk about St. Monica which included the above basics as well as my personal experience with her and St. Augustine. It made me realize that, without thinking about it, I'd grown very fond of St. Monica.

Burial of Saint Monica and Saint Augustine
Departing from Africa Master of Osservanza
via Wikipedia

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