Today, 27 Aug 2012, is the feast day of St Monica, the mother of St Augustine of Hippo. On her feast day everyone who has been praying for the conversion of a loved one for a long time – especially one’s menfolk – is encouraged by her example to keep on praying. The life of St Monica reminds us all that God only delays to answer our heartfelt prayers if He is preparing an answer for us beyond our wildest imaginings. For Monica, she wanted Augustine to make His peace with Jesus, follow His teachings and get to Heaven. For God, He wanted Augustine to serve Him as priest, bishop, theologian, Saint and Doctor of the Church. Obtaining the transformation God wanted required years upon years of prayers, tears and sacrifices.
St Monica was born around the year 332 and was raised in a Christian home. Monica was married to Patricius, a pagan citizen of Tagaste, a city in Northern Africa. He is said to have had a bad temper and other vices. By her prayers and example she obtained the grace of baptism for her husband before his death. Monica had other children besides Augustine but we do not know much about them.
Augustine was living a sinful life, cohabiting with his girlfriend and accepting heretical teachings. Monica prayed, wept and did a lot of penance over about 20 years to obtain the conversion of Augustine. When he went to Rome, she followed, when he went to Milan, she followed. Without losing heart she asked others to pray, too, and she asked bishops and priests to speak to her son. When she found out that her son had met St Ambrose, she prayed even harder.
When Augustine finally accepted Baptism at Easter in 387 she was filled with joy. Augustine recalled ‘You had granted her much more than she had asked for in her tears, prayers, plaints and lamenting.’ On their way home to Africa that same year, Monica had a special vision from God at Ostia before she died. She told him ‘Now I find no joy in anything of this life. All my hopes have been accomplished.’ She was no longer concerned about where she would be buried, only that Augustine would remember her at the altar of God.
Augustine later became a priest and bishop and Doctor of the Church. Writing of his mother, ‘She had a woman’s weak body but a man’s strong faith, the composure appropriate to her years, a mother’s love for her son, and a Christian’s devotion.’ He also wrote, ‘If I am Your child, O my God, it is because You gave me such a mother!’
Novena to St Monica
Dear St Monica, exemplary Mother of the great St Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats, but with prayerful cries to heaven. Please 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 St 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 Jesus. You sought these conversions with prayers, with tears, with penance, and with daily offering to the Holy Trinity the sacrifice of the holy Mass.So great was your confidence in God’s goodness in the Eucharist that you asked St Augustine to always remember you at holy Mass. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favourably 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. St Monica, pray for us, and pray with us. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen. (3 times)
St Monica, pray for us.