SAINT MONICA'S STORY
It is not possible to appreciate St. Monica’s devoted relationship with God without recounting her difficult familial circumstances, particularly with her son St. Augustine. She married early in life to a pagan Roman husband, who was not supportive of her life in the church or her efforts to raise her children in the Christian faith. Even worse, by the time St. Augustine was a teenager, he left home and began wasting his life—and, as St. Monica saw it, his salvation—away in lust and laziness. She left her family in Hippo (modern day Algeria) to pursue St. Augustine in Carthage and in Rome, to call him back to holiness. But St. Augustine’s resistance at the time was fierce, leaving St. Monica with no recourse but a complete reliance on God.
St. Monica’s relentless struggle to bring her family, and most notably St. Augustine, to Christ is marked with endless patience and painful tears. Her firm hope in God’s power to transform even the most recalcitrant heart comforted her during those sleepless nights spent in prayer while St. Augustine pursued self-pleasure. That hope and ceaseless prayer was confirmed when she heard the prophecy, “the child of those tears will never perish.”
St. Augustine’s complete transformation and repentance to Christ was no doubt facilitated by those tears flowing from a heart wounded by a concern for the salvation of her son. St. Monica’s patience, prayer and desperate cry for the return of one soul to Christ is indeed a model for the entire Church in Christ. May we all have that same desire to bring all our brothers and sisters in Christ—particularly those who are the farthest away—back to repentance with the same fervor and patience as St. Monica.