Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saint Monica

Saint Monica
Any woman who spends her life praying for the conversion of her husband and her wayward son deserves to be canonized, especially after her own son becomes a popular Saint and a Doctor of the Church. Monica’s parents brought her up as Christian and married her to an older, pagan man named Patricius. He was a man with a great deal of energy, but also a man given to violent tempers and adultery. Her son St Augustine writes in one of his books that despite the prevalence of domestic abuse at the time, because of her obedience to him, Patricius never beat St. Monica. His mother lived with them and was equally difficult, which proved a constant challenge to St. Monica. However, St Monica attended church daily and cultivated the virtue of patience. She would say to other women who had bad marriages, "If you can master your tongue, not only do you run less risk of being beaten, but perhaps you may even, one day, make your husband better."

She had three children; Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her patience and prayers, she was able to convert her husband and his mother to the Catholic faith in 370. He died a year later. Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious Life. St. Augustine was much more difficult, as she had to pray for him for 17 years, begging the prayers of priests who, for a while, tried to avoid her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavor. One priest did console her by saying, "it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish." This thought, coupled with a vision that she had received, strengthened her. St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose in 387. Not long after, as she was preparing to return to Africa, she died at the age of 56 at the port of Ostia, Italy, telling Augustine: "There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God has answered this more than abundantly. What more am I to do here?" St Augustine’s feast will be celebrated tomorrow, a day after his mother’s feast.

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