Saint Monica of Hippo
331 - 387
Most of us are familiar with Saint Monica, the mother of the great Saint Augustine. As the story goes, Monica had a wayward child in her son Augustine. He was a great success, but he wasn't living a moral life and he wasn't growling in holiness. In fact, his behavior was leading him away from holiness and away from God altogether. Back at home, his mother, Monica, prayed fervently for the conversion of her son, Augustine. Not only was St. Monica's prayer time consumed with the conversion of her son, but also with the conversion of her husband, who was known to be adulterous and abusive to Monica. St. Monica persisted in prayer. God would reward this beautiful Saint for her endless petitions with the answer to prayer she had sought for so long!
St. Monica was born in Thagaste (present day Algeria) in the year 331. At a young age, Monica was married off to Patricius, a Roman pagan. Not only did she gain a husband, but also a mother-in-law, who came and lived with the couple. Patricius and his mother both had violent tempers and Monica bore the brunt of them throughout the course of her marriage. The couple had three children together, Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. While Patricius was pagan and bothered by Monica's Christian beliefs, it is said that he tolerated them, but not so far as to permit their children to be baptized. He almost allowed Augustine to be baptized when he fell ill as a child, but rescinded when Augustine's health improved. Monica could do nothing more than to pray for her children.
It is believed that Navigius and Perpetua both married and led relatively good lives. Ultimately after becoming a widow, Perpetua dedicated her life to celibacy and became the abbess of an order in Hippo. Daughters of Navigius are said to have been nuns in her order.
Augustine, on the other hand, grew wayward and lazy, by his own admission, throughout the course of his adolescence. At 17, a worried Monica sent her son for schooling in Carthage. It was at this time that Patricius died. Before his death, he experienced a conversion. An answer to prayer!
As Augustine received his education in Carthage, he was also introduced to different ideas of religion and ended up becoming a Manichaean. Manichaeism was a major dualistic religious system, with Christian, Gnostic, and pagan elements, seeing the world in a constant struggle between a spiritual world of light and an evil material world of darkness. Upon hearing this conversion from her son's own mouth, Monica turned him away. It was not until Monica experienced a vision that she considered a reconciliation with Augustine.
Monica followed Augustine to Rome, where he had secretly gone, only to find that he had moved on to Milan. In Milan, St. Monica found Bishop Ambrose and through him, St. Augustine's conversion finally began! Mother and son spent six peaceful months together after which St. Augustine was baptized by Bishop Ambrose in Milan at the church of St. John the Baptist. What joy for this mother and her son!
Monica and Augustine began a journey to Africa where they felt called to spread the word of God. They traveled through Civitavecchia and Ostia on their way. It was in Ostia that St. Monica died. When she realized her death was near, St. Monica spoke these words to her son, "Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled."
St. Monica, patron of married women, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, conversion of relatives, and alcoholics, pray for us!
St. Monica, model of intercession, spiritual motherhood, perseverance in prayer, fortitude in difficult circumstances, trust in God, and faithfulness, pray for us!
Has your prayer life grown cold, because it feels like God is not hearing or responding to your intention? Do you struggle to continue to pray for what seems impossible? Remember that St. Monica had to be steadfast in her prayers all the way up until the very death of her husband for his conversion and for 17 years for the conversion of her son. Persevere! Ask for the intercession of St. Monica that you receive the grace you need to trust in God's plan.Do you suffer from abuse in your marriage? Physical, psychological, or verbal abuse? Have you sought counseling? Ask St. Monica to intercede for you that you will find the help and direction you need.
Are you experiencing the pain of a child or grandchild who has fallen away from or left the church altogether? Or a child or grandchild who has not received their sacraments and no effort is being forwarded in this way? Ask the Blessed Mother to help you be a spiritual mother to your children through prayer. Continue to pray for the conversion of your children and ask St. Monica to intercede for you using this prayer below.
I need your prayers.
You know exactly how I'm feeling because you once felt it yourself.
I'm hurting, hopeless, and in despair.
I desperately want my child to return to Christ in his Church but I can't do it alone.
I need God's help.
Please join me in begging the Lord's powerful grace to flow into my child's life.
Ask the Lord Jesus to soften his heart, prepare a path for his conversion, and activate the Holy Spirit in his life.
Women of Grace television program with host, Johnnette Williams:
Praying for Our Fallen Away Children
With Guest, Maggie Green, author of The St. Monica Club