August 27th is the feast day of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. And although we do not celebrate her feast day this year because it falls on a Sunday, St. Monica’s example of faith and her intercession is needed more than ever today. St. Monica was married to a man named Patricius, who was not catholic, and was known to have a violent temper and was an alcoholic. St. Monica was not able to have her children baptized when they were young because Patricius would not consent to having the children baptized which was a source great pain and anguish for St. Monica. However, this did not stop St. Monica’s fidelity to the Lord and she would pray every single day for her children, especially for St. Augustine.
As St. Augustine grew up, he joined the pagan religion Manichaeism and continued to become very accomplished as an intellectual and scholar. St. Monica visited several different priests and bishops in tears asking them to pray for St. Augustine and one bishop said, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” St. Monica would never cease praying for the conversion of St. Augustine. After meeting St. Ambrose, St. Augustine would convert and be baptized, answering St. Monica’s prayers.
When St. Monica was close to death she shared these words to St. Augustine, “Son, for my own part I have no further delight in any thing in this life. What I do here any longer, and why I am here, I know not, now that my hopes in this world are accomplished. There was one thing for which I desired to linger for a while in this life, that I might see you as a Catholic Christian before I died. My God has done this for me more abundantly, that I should now see you, despising earthly happiness, become His servant.” St. Augustine would eventually be ordained a priest and a bishop and become one of the best theologians in Church history
It is beautiful to see that the Church recognizes the importance of St. Monica in St. Augustine’s life by placing their feast days one after the other, August 27th and August 28th. Liturgically, the Church is saying that without St. Monica there would be no St. Augustine, that to come to St. Augustine, we must go through St. Monica.
Today, more young people are leaving the Catholic faith than ever before. There are many different reasons, but it still leaves many parents and grandparents in pain and sorrow to watch their children and grandchildren leave the faith in pursuit of earthly happiness, just like St. Augustine. St. Monica is a saint for our time, her love for the Lord, her love for her children, and her perseverance in prayer is an example for all parents to never cease praying for their children, even after they are grown
Pray rosaries for your children, offer Masses for them, continue to invite them to the sacraments, and pray for them in private. While on this side of heaven, it is never a lost cause, we do not know how the Lord is working and is calling us to a life of faith. We do not know who the Lord will place in our life or in our children’s life to assist us in the faith. But if we are faithful and trust in the providence of God, we will be able to see how God is working in our life. Through our prayers of sorrow and joy, we are called to be the St. Monica to our children’s St. Augustine. St. Monica and St. Augustine, pray for us.