Saturday, August 27, 2011

St. Monica, Patron of Married Women and Mothers

Today is the memorial of St. Monica - a saint admire so much for her tenacity, patience, and perseverance in prayer for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine. A persistent prayer warrior, Monica never gave up on her son, Augustine, a great sinner, who later became so strongly drawn to the faith that he was eventually canonized, as one of the Church's greatest teachers and philosophers, and was designated a doctor of the Church.

Monica was born in 332 to Christian parents in Tagaste, northern Africa and married at the age 13 or 14 to an older man named Patricius, who was neither wealthy nor Christian. The marriage was indeed a cross for Monica.  Patricius was irritable and unfaithful and her live-in mother-in-law criticized her constantly. Monica sought refuge in God through an intimate prayer life and in caring for her three children: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua.  In answer to her constant prayers, both her mother-in-law and her husband Patricius converted to Christianity. Monica had been praying for the two of them for 20 years. Patricius died the year after his conversion.

At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a student in Carthage. Augustine kept bad company and was immersed in a sinful lifestyle. He took a Carthaginian woman as his mistress and lived with her for fifteen years. Monica prayed constantly for his faith. In her sorrow, a certain bishop consoled her: "Don't worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost." Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him.

When he was 29, Augustine left North Africa for a teaching position in Italy and Monica tried to follow him, but he outwitted her and had already embarked when she arrived at the docks.  Monica followed him anyway and found him seriously depressed and tried to arrange a wealthy marriage for him. The faithful mistress had left their son with him and had returned to Carthage. Augustine took another mistress and then became engaged to a wealthy young woman, whom he later abandoned when he decided to take a vow of celibacy.

In Milan, Monica found St. Ambrose, who became her spiritual director, and through him, she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance. Augustine was baptized by Ambrose in 387 in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan.

Augustine tired of teaching and resolved to return to North Africa. The family set out on their journey, stopping at Cività Vecchia and then at Ostia. Here Monica died in peace and the finest pages of Augustine’s "Confessions" were penned as the result of the emotion he experienced at that time.

Monica is the patron of:
abuse victims, alcoholics, alcoholism, Bevilacqua, Italy, difficult marriages, disappointing children, homemakers, housewives, Mabini, Bohol, Philippines, married women, mothers, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, widows, wives

Quotes of St. Monica:

“Nothing is far from God.”

“Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.”

~ About the conversion of St. Augustine

Prayer to St. Monica

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; your prayers were answered. Grant me that same fortitude, patience, and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for(mention request 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.

1 comment:

Bethanie Ryan said...

St. Monica, pray for us.

I don't appreciate how especially in "scholarly feminist" circles St. Monica is looked down upon because she stayed with an abusive husband.

I do agree, however, with their concern that holding St. Monica up as a role model could give abused women the mistaken impression that the "Christian" thing to do would be to stay.

St. Monica, in her time period, didn't have much of a choice. There wasn't any support for abused women in in the 300s. I am sure she is up there praying today for all women who are in abusive relationships, that they will be safe and they and any children can get out.

I personally pray to her often for my family members who are not Christian, much less Catholic.