Today, August 27, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Monica (322-387), Model of Christian Motherhood, mother to Saint Augustine (whose feast we celebrate tomorrow), and patron saint of mothers. Her life is a perfect example of Christian patience, endurance, charity, prayer, and conversion, and her tireless prayers on behalf of her son are inspiration for all Christians.
“a lazy and dissolute youth whose bad behavior caused his mother much grief.” Having fully embraced the ways of the world, Augustine left his mother to attend school at Madaura and Carthage. Throughout his youth, he recklessly pursued pleasures, joining a heretical cult at age 19. Augustine seemed a hopeless cause to most, but Monica was not to be deterred She intensified her prayers for her son, and continued these prayers tirelessly for 17 years. Whenever possible, she attempted to enlist the assistance of priests (many of whom began to avoid her due to what they viewed as an impossible task!).
"In her dream she saw herself standing on a sort of wooden rule, and saw a bright youth approaching her, joyous and smiling at her, while she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But when he inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (not to learn from her, but to teach her, as is customary in visions), and when she answered that it was my soul's doom she was lamenting, he bade her rest content and told her to look and see that where she was there I was also. And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule."
"the child of those tears shall never perish,” which she took as a sign from God. Though he continued in his heresies for nine more years, Monica never gave up. When he deceived his mother and left for Rome without her, she followed him alone—a difficult task for a woman to travel alone at that time! Upon arrival in Rome, she learned that he had departed for Milan, and again she followed, praying constantly in an effort to rescue him from his errors. In Milan she met Saint Ambrose, who helped lead Augustine into the true faith.
“On the ninth day then of her sickness, and the fifty-sixth year of her age, and the three-and-thirtieth of mine, was that religious and holy soul freed from the body. . . . For we thought it not fitting to solemnize that funeral with tearful lament, and groanings; for thereby do they for the most part express grief for the departed, as though unhappy, or altogether dead; whereas she was neither unhappy in her death, nor altogether dead. Of this we were assured on good grounds, the testimony of her good conversation and her faith unfeigned.”
“There was one reason, and one alone, why I wished to remain a little longer in this life, and that was to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. God has granted my wish and more besides, for I now see you as his servant, spurning such happiness as the world can give.” With her earthly work finished—the protection of her children’s souls complete—Monica was ready to return home to her Lord. Prior to her death, she encouraged Augustine, her last words being: “It does not matter where you bury my body. All I ask of you, is that wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord.”
"I will not speak of her gifts, but of thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor her mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of thy Christ, the discipline of thy only Son, that trained her in thy fear, in the house of one of thy faithful ones who was a sound member of thy Church.”
God of mercy, comfort of those in sorrow, the tears of St. Monica moved you to convert her son St. Augustine to the faith of Christ.
By their prayers, help us to turn from our sins and to find your loving forgiveness.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer to Saint 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.
Dear Saint Monica, troubled wife and mother,
Many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
Yet you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence and profound faith,
You prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius,
And your beloved son, Augustine.
Grant me that same fortitude, patience and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear Saint Monica,
That God may favorably hear my plea for (mention your petition here)
And grant me the grace to accept His will in all things.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever. Amen.
Year 2: Day 239 of 365
Prayer Intentions: For all mothers; For true conversion of ourselves and those we love; Patience and enduranace.
Requested Intentions: Successful examination results (D); Safety of family, strength, courage, wisdom (C); For the souls of a departed father and brother, finding of a suitable marriage partner (R); Successful pilgrimage, deepening of prayer life (R); Restoration of health (J); Restoration of health (S); Freedom from pride (A); For children and marriage (M); For the birth of a healthy baby (Y); For personal family intentions, for the sick, poor, hungry, and homeless (G); Financial security and peace (J); Grace, peace, and obedience to the will of God in a marriage (H); Successful and blessed marriage for sin, freedom from anxiety for husband, spiritual contentedness for family (N); Employment and health for a husband (B); Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C); Financial assistance and employment (B); For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T).