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Thursday, 11 December 2014

St. Augustine and St. Monica

Raissa makes the comment that too many Catholics do not believe that people can be as holy as those in the early Church.  This is not true. We look at the lives of the saints, states Raissa, in order to emulate them and ask for God's grace to be saints as well.

Yesterday, I was thinking of Monica and Augustine's road to God.

We usually think that St. Monica's long years of prayers were for St. Augustine's conversion. And, they were.

But, those long years were also, if not primarily, for St. Monica's conversion.

This dawned on me looking at my own life of praying for a son in the seminary. Daily, I pray for him and also offer up all kinds of sufferings for his holiness.

As you all know, we need holy priests. I pray for four seminarians specifically, daily, to become holy priests, by name.

The physical suffering I experience daily is part of this prayer for my son's perfection.

St. Monica had to pray for her son for two main reasons. One, his own upbringing was incomplete and he had to convert. She helped him by helping him end his long relationship with his concubine. But, the prayers of this mother helped him convert.

However, when one prays for another person, one is changed as well, especially if this prayer occurs over a long period of time. St. Monica learned to hope, to trust in Divine Providence, and she was purified of her own desires as well.

In her society, she most likely had most things her way. But, not in the plan of God for her son's conversion. Praying for Augustine was part of Monica's long purgatory, her purgation and Dark Night.

In fact, it was only in meeting St. Ambrose, that Monica entered into her time of Illumination. She was taught as well as Augustine by this Doctor of the Church on how to finally give all to God in love and trust.

Shortly after the completion of this illumination and union with God, Monica died.

She and Augustine had long talks about God. They were united in the common love they shared for Christ and His Church.

It is interesting how God uses children to purify parents of unholy love and selfishness. Monica's long journey mirrored that of Augustine. And, when God decided the time was right, He gave all involved the graces necessary to say "yes" to His will.

So it is for all parents....I am being purified in my years of prayers for my son, as I am sure is true for most good parents who want their children to follow God in truth and virtue. One learns to trust, to persevere, to hope, to love, to have faith.

One never stops praying if one is a parent. St. Monica's last entreating was for St. Augustine to remember her at Mass. She most likely did not need that grace, but her humility to the end teaches all of us to not be presumptuous about the graces at the time of death.

That she is a saint indicated that she, indeed, reached union with God before she died. And, one of her ways to that state was constant prayer.