I’ve heard of St. Augustine in my studies, a Christian philosopher/writer/bishop, who I don’t know a whole lot about aside from my favorite quotes of his:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
“In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love.”
“caro tua, coniunx tua – your body is your wife“
St. Augustine had quite the exceptional life, including being one of the most famous Christian philosophers & Catholic saints. You can read all about him if you’re interested, because I’m not here to chat about Auggie today. I’m hear to brag about his mother, Monica.
I’m not Catholic, so my knowledge of the church’s history and sainthood is absolutely minimal. From what I’ve read, St. Augustine’s mother is a huge key woman in the history of the Church. Here’s why…
The short version of explaining who Monica is lays in her patronage. As she’s now referred to as St. Monica, she’s the patron saint of married women, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery, victims of abuse, and conversion of relatives. Within her patronage, people often refer to her as the patron saint for finding patience.
The longer version is that Monica was recorded as a patient, devoted wife and mother despite who she shared a home with. Her husband was an unfaithful, unkind pagan (and apparently the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the case of her husband’s mother, who also lived with them). To add to the toxic home, the house servants treated Monica just as her husband treated her. She was married twenty years before he passed away & Monica became a devoted single mother to three children, one of them being Augustine. I’m not sure of the history of her other two children, but little Auggie was the reason Monica is the patron saint of difficult children.
What Monica desired most in life was to see her children become followers of Jesus. For Augustine, this proved difficult. As a child and young man, he was quite hardheaded and stubborn. He was known as a lazy intellectual, which led him on an studious chase of spirituality. For some time, he was even a pagan like his dad.
Though Augustine gave Monica so much grief and heartache, Monica never gave up. She prayed consistently for him even though he pushed her away. For seventeen whole years, she watched her son live a life full of sin, empty of the Lord, and she fervently prayed every single one of those days.
One year after Augustine converted to Christianity, Monica passed away. It seemed fitting in that bringing her children to know the Lord was her one and only purpose in life. When Augustine accepted Jesus into his life, Monica’s roll on Earth was complete. A few days before she died, she told Augustine, ““My son, speaking of myself, nothing earthly delights me any longer. I do not know why I am still here or why I should remain here. I have no further earthly desires.”
Her mourning turned to joy. Her patience paid off. She was often discouraged, but never gave up on God or Augustine. She waited seventeen years for God to answer her prayer, and in part to her dedication and faith, the path of the Church has been made partially due to her son.
While I don’t know much about patron saints or Catholic history, I think this story is beautiful and such a testament to God’s faithfulness and grace. Don’t give up on those who are lost. Pray continuously, it’s our strongest weapon provided to us by our Father. Keep faith in God’s plan, even when it’s taking longer than you’d like it to.
“Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you.”Jeremiah 29:12 AMP
3 thoughts on “The Patience and Fervent Prayer of St. Monica”
Was that your writing? I liked it a lot
Sent from my U.S.Cellular© Smartphone
I just wrote a comparison of Augustine and Mencius (a Chinese sage who is pretty much Augustine’s philosophical opposite) and so this topic has been on my mind.
What did you enjoy about Augustine’s thought? I ask because I read both Confessions and City of God. I found them unspeakably sad.