Posted by: fvbcdm | August 27, 2015

Feast of Saint Monica (27 August 2015)

As we celebrate today the commemoration of Saint Monica, the mother of the great Father and Doctor Saint Augustine, we come to one of the poignant readings to be found in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is taken from the Confessions of Saint Augustine and has special meaning for me.  By the time this passage was written, Saint Monica had spent YEARS praying for the conversion of her brilliant but wayward son, and God had answered her prayers with immense generosity. Augustine had become a Catholic and was living a most virtuous life of prayer and study. Later on, he would become a priest and a bishop, the greatest theologian of the early Church apart from the apostles themselves, and one day a canonized saint.

Monica and Augustine had returned from Milan to Rome, and then gone down to the port of Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber where they planned to take a ship for Tagaste, their native city in the Roman colony of North Africa. Saint Monica said to her son, “I do not know why I am still here . . . I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect . . . So what am I doing here?”

A few days later, she fell ill and died there in Ostia. Her body now rests in the church of Saint Augustine in Rome. And in his Confessions, her famous son gives all loving and devout mothers a beautiul example of a concerned mother who wished to give life to her son’s soul even more than she had to his body.

This day brings a very happy memory to me. During my sabbatical in Rome in 1995, I took the train one day from the mail railroad station of Rome down the Tiber to the ruins of ancient Ostia, now a city of ruins since the Tiber silted up, and the city was transferred a few miles away. Most of the ancient buildings are still there, the walls still standing and the roofs caved in because of their weight. You can walk up and down the streets of this ghost town, and on what was the main street, I came across a large marble tablet on which are inscribed in Latin the passage I quoted above, taken from the writings of Saint Augustine in which he describes his love of and gratitude to his mother.

We all know many mothers who are concerned about the spiritual well-being of their children. It is very difficult to be a parent nowadays, when so many temptations and dangers beset children and adolescents. Let us pray through the intercession of Saint Monica for those parents, that God’s grace will enable them to be the kind of parents they should, and their children to be the kind of children and then adults THEY should. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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