Today is the feast day of Saint Monica, who died on this day in 387 AD. She is most well-known for her tireless prayers on behalf of her more famous son, Saint Augustine. As anyone who knows his story (chronicled in his still-bestselling Confessions) knows, ol’ “Gus” was a world-class sinner before God transformed him into one of the greatest saints in history.
Monica had to wait many years to witness the conversions of both her son and her husband, who was a pagan. Eventually she lived to see them both baptized, which probably had to be seen to be believed!
At every conference and speaking engagement I have, at least one parent or grandparent (there are often many more) will ask me how they can best help their children and grandchildren who have fallen away from the Catholic faith. There are many “Monicas” out there today, perhaps more than at any other time in the Church’s history. And there are many practical strategies for these people. In fact, that’s what our Search and Rescue Conference this year was all about! But no technique will be effective in any way without prayer.
One could really say that Monica bore Augustine twice; once physically, and also spiritually. In Augustine’s “second birth”, he was most certainly the child of Monica’s tears. Augustine’s conversion offers much hope to anyone praying for a loved one gone astray. We must remember that our Lord loves these lost souls (and each one of us) more than all the mothers in the world love their children, and that he desires their salvation far more than we can imagine – even to the point of sending his own Son to die, that we may become part of his worldwide (Catholic) family for all eternity.
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