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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Saint Monica

Feast day: August 27

Early Struggles

No one is born a saint and just like anyone else, Monica had her tendencies she needed to overcome before she developed into the person God wants her to be.
As a young girl, she was sent by her parents to draw wine for the use of the family, and it was said that Monica would take sneaking sips of wine from the casks. This she did at first, out of curiosity and fun but before long she was drinking great draughts of it whenever she gets a chance. God watched over Monica to correct her by making use of a servant-maid who had been spying on the little girl and criticizing her as a wine-bibber. This affected Monica so much that she gave up the habit.

Called to a Quiet Witness

When she was about 20 years old, Monica got married by arrangement to Patricius, a municipal counselor in Tagaste. Her mother-in-law, who was equally difficult, lived with them but St. Monica had an excellent talent as a peacemaker. And though her husband had a passionate temper and as a pagan was critical of Christians and their practices, Monica bore his outbursts with utmost patience. Through prayers coupled with the daily example of her gentleness and kindness, she finally saw the fruits of her labor when her husband and mother-in-law were converted to the Catholic faith in 370 AD, a year before Patricius’ death and the year Augustine turned seventeen.
St. Monica is always delighted to serve the poor, supplying their wants with cheerfulness and generosity. She assisted daily at the holy oblation of the altar, and never failed to go to church twice a day. She had three children; Navigius, an exemplary son; Augustine, and Perpetua, a daughter, who entered religious life.

Storming Heaven’s Gates

Augustine, who at seventeen was studying at Carthage, was seduced by the Manicheans and drawn into heresy. Monica disapproved of Augustine’s loose living and grieved bitterly for his support of the heresy of Manichaeism that she refused at first to let him live under the same roof with her.

She relented only after having seen a vision:

[One day as she was weeping over his behavior, a figure appeared and asked her the cause of her grief. She answered, and a voice issued from the mysterious figure, telling her to dry her tears; then she heard the words, "Your son is with you." Monica related this story to Augustine, and he replied that they might easily be together if she gave up her faith, for that was the main obstacle keeping them apart. Quickly she retorted, "He did not say I was with you: he said that you were with me." Augustine was impressed by the quick answer and never forgot it.] From www.ewtn.com

Awaiting God’s Timing

Although his conversion was not to take place for nine long years, Monica was so much comforted by it, that she again permitted him to eat and live with her. During all this time, Monica continued with her prayers, fasted and wept on his behalf.

Augustine was twenty-nine years old when he decided to go to Rome with the intention to teach rhetoric. Monica opposed the move, fearing that his conversion would be indefinitely postponed. Sensing that his mother would follow him, Augustine outwitted her by a ruse as to the time of sailing. Along with his wife and son, they embarked while she was spending the night in a church, praying. This, however, did not discourage Monica and continued on to Rome.

In Rome, Augustine had come under the influence of the great Bishop Ambrose and when his mother finally found him in Milan, he had given up Manichaeism.

Augustine ran a house of study and Monica helped him take care of his students.

In the Easter of 387, Augustine was baptized by Bishop Ambrose along with his son Adeodatus, who shortly thereafter passed away. Monica died of malaria later that same year, on the way back to Africa in the Italian town of Ostia. After praying for her son, Augustine, for 17 years, Monica knew her work on earth had been accomplished.


Through the examples of Monica, I can’t help but think how our heavenly mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, patiently and lovingly prays for our conversion.

How she longs for all her children to be united with Christ and how God relentlessly pursues us and waits eagerly for our return.

What is your idea of a saint?

Please feel free to share your reflections/insights/inputs in the comment box. Thank you and God bless!
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