Posted by: fvbcdm | August 27, 2007

Feast of Saint Monica (27 August)

This wonderful community that we call “The Communion of Saints” or “The Mystical Body of Christ” has all sorts of interesting and appealing people in it. Today, for example, we celebrate a lady who is, in a sense, the grandmother to us Dominicans. We have two of them actually: Blessed Jane of Aza, the mother of Saint Dominic our founder, and then Saint Monica whom we celebrate today, and who was the mother of Saint Augustine. We Dominicans follow the Rule of Saint Augustine, so his mother becomes our spiritual grandmother. Monica and her family lived in the Roman colony in North Africa, in what is now Algeria. She was a devout Catholic; she and her pagan husband had several children, among them a brilliant young son named Augustine. She had high hopes for this gifted boy of hers, but the father would not allow him to be baptized Catholic, and Augustine became a sort of playboy. He took up with a woman by whom he had at least one illegitimate child. All his mother’s pleading, advice, prayers, and tears seemed unavailing on him. He even lied to her and sneaked away to Rome to get away from her. She followed him. He went on to Milan, where the emperor’s court was located. She followed him there, too. And finally, her prayers began to be be answered. Augustine fell under the influence of Saint Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan. Gradually grace worked in his life; he renounced the heresy of Manichaeism and then, to the enormous joy of his mother, was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil of the year 386.

The following year, they were returning to their home in north Africa. As they waited in the port city of Ostia for a ship to take them over the sea, Monica took sick and died. At her funeral, Augustine wept. Then he apologized to those present, saying that they might not think it appropriate to weep at the death of one so holy and so deserving of heaven. But, he explained, he was moved to tears by the thought of all the tears he had caused her during those years when he simply ridiculed her faith and her devout Catholicism.

She died very happy, and he went on to become a priest, a bishop, one of the greatest fathers and doctors of the Church, a giant of theology and of literature, and of course a canonized saint. Tomorrow, after having celebrated the mother, we will celebrate the son.

Saint Monica is the patroness of all those mothers who are trying hard to raise their children according to God’s will and who suffer to see their children stray from the way of truth, virtue, and holiness. That is certainly enough to keep her busy, especially these days! Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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