Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lord, in Your good time...

'Greater happiness than mine there can never be ~ I had a mother who prayed for me...' ~ St. Augustine.

'Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled...' ~ St. Monica, on her son's return to the Church.

This week we celebrate the double Feast Days of Ss. Monica (27 Aug) and Augustine (28 Aug).
The most beautiful example in history of a mother's love for her son, excepting, of course, the love of Our Lady for Her Divine Son Jesus...and how the two of them came to be a very interesting read.
A couple of years ago I read two books about St. Monica, one of which detailed the journey of her family to God, led mostly by her example. The other was mainly about her, some mention of her son Augustine, and her virtues.
She is not only the patroness of mothers, she is also the patroness of those abused (both physically and verbally), those in difficult marriages, alcoholics, parents of disappointing children, victims of adultery.
How many of us here can honestly say that at some point in our lives we have not experienced something of this? Either we have a child who disappoints us, a husband who verbally abuses us, a family member who has left Holy Mother Church and the True Faith...or maybe all three?!?
There are so many who pray to her simply to ask the return of some loved one to the Church. But she is good for so much more besides...If a husband or a wife, for example, is a heavy drinker, St. Monica has experienced something of the same heartache. Her husband, Patritius, was a pagan when she married him, and because of her kindness and patience with him, even though he was verbally abusive to her, as was her mother-in-law, he never struck her. Physical abuse was a common occurrence in those days; wives were frequently beaten by their husbands for practically any reason at all. So her husband's restraint in this matter was a most unusual circumstance which did not escape the notice of other wives in Tagaste, where they lived. He was an official with the local government, so they presumably knew many people. St. Monica used to say to the other wives, 'If you can manage to control your tongue, you give your husband very little reason to strike you.'
Even as Patritius was an adulterer and a heavy drinker, he controlled his hand...but not his mouth.

His mother, also, verbally abused St. Monica every chance she got; she would gossip about her and this even led to her bad treatment at the hands of the household servants!
Poor St. Monica was not safe from harm even in her own home, but she persevered in prayer, patient understanding and forgiveness, and holy example. She never let them stop her from attending daily Holy Mass and it was most likely her reception of the Sacrament that kept her in good Faith with her God...and His strength sustained her through many hard times.
Her other two children, Perpetua and Navigius, did not give her nearly the grief that Augustine did, as both of them entered the religious life early on.
By the time St. Augustine returned to the Church, his father was dead, having converted late in his life, and also his grandmother, who had also converted...all due to the prayers and example of St. Monica! It took 17 years for all of this to come about, and some time after he was baptized by St. Ambrose, a friend and teacher of St. Monica, his holy and most loved mother also passed away.
There is a story, however, that just before she died, St. Monica and her son were in her bedchamber, she on her deathbed, and as they gazed out the window, they were favored with a vision of Heaven. I imagine this is the subject of the painting (above); what a wonderful gift from God! How peaceful and joy-filled they must have been!
I know Christ teaches us that we must believe even without seeing or hearing, and, indeed, this is the way of real Faith, but for Him to reward them with this beautiful sight must have given them such comfort and happiness!
Most of us do not experience this in our entire lives, but we must hang onto our Faith just the same. We never know what God has planned for those who love Him; to believe and to carry on is the way of a true Christian, a true Catholic.
Someday, to have the same peace and joy that is the lot of these two wonderful, beloved Saints ~ that is my every day's wish, the dream of my every waking moment.
Ss. Monica and Augustine, please pray for us!

1 comment:

Niluka said...

I'm amazed about the degree of patience St. Monica had. I wish I had at least a tiny bit of it.