– Tej Francis
Saint Monica is a patron saint for mothers and wives. She was an exemplary woman who never gave up hope and her faith in God among all tribulations in her family life. If there are mothers out there who suffer from children gone astray, here is your saint whom you could take as a role model. Also, if there are wives out there whose husbands are being disloyal or abusive, St. Monica is your saint whom you could ask for prayer.
St Monica was born in the year 332, in Tagaste, North Africa. Monica had a conversion experience at a very young age and lived a life of virtue. When she reached a marriageable age, her parents gave her in marriage to a non-Christian man named Patricius. Monica’s husband Patricius, not only came home drunk each day but had a violent temper and Monica was often the victim of his rage. Patricius was neither a faithful husband, and therefore, Monica’s life was full of trials.
Monica endured all her trials with patience, gentleness and kindness. She would daily pray for the conversion of her husband, even though he would oppose her Christian practices. Her strong faith and hope in God’s mercy finally payed off. Patricius accepted his wife’s faith a year before his death. He admitted that he admired his wife’s strong faith and it was her unwavering kindness towards him that changed him.
Here is a challenge for us married people. Today’s world view about marriage and divorce contradicts with Monica’s values and yet we are all called to be saints. St. Augustine, St. Monica’s son was seventeen when his father died. Monica and Patricius had three children out of whom St Augustine was the son who was to give his mother the worst heart aches.
St. Augustine was brilliant in his studies and therefore was sent to Carthage, so he could develop his talents and become a man of culture. Although he excelled in his studies, his behaviour became unacceptable to his mother. Not only that he went into lose living with women, alcohol and addictions of all kinds, but also, he got involved with a cult called Manichaeism. One could only imagine the anguish of this poor mother Saint Monica.
Monica never gave up her prayers for her son. She would fast, cry and beg God for her son’s conversion. Legend says that a drain formed in the ground where her tears fell while she prayed for her son. Monica would approach the local bishop and ask them to win her son over to the faith. The Bishop would often console her saying, “God’s time will come. Go now, it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish”. Monica was a mother who never gave up.
Finally, the time came when Augustine was twenty-nine a successful teacher then, had to work under the influence of Bishop Ambrose. Monica found that her son had at this stage given up Manichaeism. Monica made friends with Bishop Ambrose in order to help her son give up his current lifestyle.
For her greatest Joy, Augustine not only embraced Christianity during an Easter celebration, but he decided to live a life of celibacy and devote himself to God’s service. St. Augustine was not only a wonderful Bishop, but later became one of the greatest saints and doctors of the Catholic church. This was the culminating point of his mother’s prayers being answered.
At Monica’s death bed she said to her son Augustine: “I do not know what there is left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled. All I wished for was that I might see you a Catholic and a child of Heaven. God granted me even more than this in making you despise earthly felicity and consecrate yourself to His service”.
Saint Monica therefore, has been honoured for generations as a special patroness of married women and an example for Christian motherhood.