Readings: 1st – Sr 26: 1-4, 13-16, Gospel – Lk 7:11-17
St. Monica – Holy Women
Born 331 in Tagaste (Algeria, North Africa)
When Monica was very young, she was married to a Roman pagan named Patricius. They had three children, Augustine, Navijius, and Perpetua.
Patricius would not allow his children to be baptized but finally acquiesced to St. Monica’s petitions and allowed it when Augustine became ill as a boy. But when he recovered, Patricius withdrew his approval and Augustine was not baptized.
For years, St. Monica prayed for her husband’s conversion, and finally, just before his death he converted. Augustine was 17 at the time.
Both Navijius and Perpetua eventually entered religious life, but St. Augustine did not and went in the opposite direction looking inward, of himself and fraught with self-living and laziness.
Augustine traveled about and St. Monica followed after him, ever praying for his conversion. Eventually she followed him to Rom and then to Milan in Italy. Finally, at the age of 34, St. Augustine, with the help of St. Ambrose and all of St. Monica’s prayers and petitions, converted to Christianity. Shortly thereafter he was baptized and St. John the Baptist Church in Milan. He went on to become one of the greatest Doctors of the Church.
St. Monica died in 387, not long after Augustine’s conversion. She was buried in Ostia, Ital, 15 miles SW of Rome.
She is the patron saint of wives and abuse victims.
St. Monica is all about persistence in prayer. But just being persistent is not the only thing required for most prayers to be answered. Faith that God is listening and will answer them according to His Will and Time also must be present. St. Monica had both and in larger amounts.
One day when I was talking to my mother about our children. The last one had finally left the house and I said, “Well, I can finally stop worrying about the kids now.” My mother just looked me in the eye and said, “Son, you never stop worrying about your children no matter how old they are.”
You know, she was right. We really never stop worrying or praying for our children in order that they may have a safe and healthy life. This is especially true for mothers. Each mother, in her own way, continues to support, nurture, and love their children, 24-7. This care really comes to light when one of our children strays, falls on hard times, or finds themselves on the wrong side of the law. It is these times that mothers really shine and their instincts kick in. They do everything they can to help their children get back on the right path. They do it with love, consistency, and persistence. It may seem like nagging to the one receiving it, but in reality, it is this persistent love and devotion to the power of prayer and the change it can bring that saves many a child.
Saint Monica demonstrated that her persistent prayers after 17 years finally wrought the conversion of her eldest son, Augustine. Many would have given up or just tossed in the towel, but not Saint Monica. If it wasn’t for persistent faith and prayer, her following St. Augustine wherever he went and the love with which she approached him, we wouldn’t have one of the greatest theologians and Doctors of the Church.
Saint Monica’s constant prayer for her son reminds me of the verse in Luke 11:5, where the friend asks his neighbor for some bread and the neighbor refuses because its late and he is already in bed. That neighbor ends up giving his friend the bread because of his persistence at the door.
Also, in Lk 18:5-8, the parable of the “Persistent Widow,” we find the same determination and persistence. The parable talks about a widow who need a judgement against her adversary. So, she went to the judge, who was afraid of no one, for a decision. He refused her for along time and would not make a ruling. The widow persisted and continued to ask him for a ruling, day after day. Eventually the judge finally decided it would be best for him to make a ruling lest the woman finally come and strike him. Jesus tells his disciples, “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?
There is no limit to the number of times we can ask and pray to our Lord for help, even if it is the same thing, over and over again. God never tires of hearing us speak to Him. He mostly loves to know that we need him and that we believe He can help us. He answers prayers in many ways and at different times. Sometimes He needs us to pray with consistence and faith so that our heart is truly in the right place and we understand the magnitude of what we’re asking for Is our prayer just a frivolous quip that’s here today and forgotten about tomorrow, or is it deep and sincere, one that only God can answer?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Mt 7:7. Never give up on your prayers. Never stop thinking or praying for your children, relatives, your friends or strangers who need your help. God will never get tired of hearing your prayers, even if they are the same, over and over again. As Saint Monica demonstrated, with patience and persistence in your prayers, your heart will be gilled with gratitude for the graces our Lord will bestow on you.