Monday, September 11, 2006


What wonderful saints we commemorate during these summer liturgies! Their feast days provide the Church with a wealth of Catholic piety and devotion. August 27 was the feast of the great Saint Augustine. In the Church’s revised calendar, the feast of his mother, Saint Monica, is celebrated on the previous day.
Monica is a model of perseverance in prayer. Her husband Patricius was a pagan, a drunkard and abusive. Monica bore him three children. Two became Catholics but Augustine, her oldest son, refused to convert. Although a brilliant scholar, he was an avowed pagan. He was going to live his life to it’s fullest. Monica pleaded with him to be baptized but he would not.
Although Monica’s "Son of Tears" as she called him taught in the leading universities, she knew that his lifestyle was leading him to eternal ruin. The more she prayed, the more evil he became. He moved in with a woman who bore him a child. When he fell "out of love" with her, he moved in with another. Monica was heartbroken. Yet, she did not listen to the advice of those who told her not to say anything to him. Rather, she constantly warned her son that he was going to lose his soul for all eternity.
Monica prayed night and day! Yet, it all seemed to no avail. This went on for twenty-five years! But, God was listening; He was testing Monica’s faith. Quietly, His graces were taking effect. Whenever her son felt remorse for his sins, he would say to God: "Not just now! A little while longer!" He had become as St. Paul said, “a slave to sin!”
One day he was walking on the beach and a boy approached him with a New Testament. His eyes fell on the words of St. Paul: "Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excesses and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh"(Rom 13:13-14). The great sinner could no longer resist the prompting of grace. After twenty-five years of tears, Monica's prayers were answered. Yes! Our Good God answers our prayers! Not only did Monica's son convert, but her husband also was baptized. Augustine, her "Son of Tears," became a Priest and then a Bishop. After his death, he was canonized a saint and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. His writings on marriage and chastity are classics.
We learn from St. Monica’s story that God hears our prayers. She teaches us fidelity in marriage, perseverance in prayer and a mother’s boundless love. We learn also that God never refuses the prayer of a mother who is persistent in prayer.
If there had not been a St. Monica, there would never have been a St. Augustine. Monica's "Son of Tears" is her joy for all eternity. The wonders of Catholic Faith never cease.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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