Saint Monica

Today’s readings

We need prayer warriors in our lives.  Maybe you’re even the prayer warrior among your friends and family, if they know you are up at 6:30 in the morning to come to Church on a regular basis!  For all the prayer warriors out there, today is the memorial of their patron saint, Saint Monica.  Saint Monica was a woman in love with God and the Church, and her family, although the latter was pretty difficult for her.  But her persistent prayer won them for Christ and the Church.

Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa.  Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper.  Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home.  Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity.  Her husband died in 371, one year after having been baptized.

Her oldest son was famously an even greater challenge.  That would be tomorrow’s saint, Saint Augustine.  After his father’s death, Augustine had embraced a heresy, and was living a rather immoral life.  For a while, Saint Monica refused to let him eat or sleep in her house.  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. 

So, spoiler alert for tomorrow, Monica’s fervent prayers brought that vision to fulfillment, and Augustine not only became a faithful Catholic, but also a bishop.  Not long after that, Monica knew her life was near the end.   She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.

Monica was a woman who accomplished much by her persistent prayer. It might be well for us today to ask for a portion of her spirit of prayer that we might accomplish God’s glory in our own time and place.

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