We must always have hope and continue to pray for our loved ones who do not have the faith. St. Monica, pray for us!
It was a gala day in Carthage when Monica married the wealthy Patricius, but there was little reason for anyone to be envious of the gentle Christian bride. Her husband was a fiery-tempered pagan who had little respect for the teachings of her faith.
At first the young bride trembled whenever the face of Patricius flushed with anger or when his gruff voice thundered out some command. But, timid as she was, Monica always gathered enough courage to argue with him or correct him. This increased his rage and caused him to heap more abuse upon her. What should she do?
His violent temper and his sharp tongue often brought sorrow to her heart She had learned that it was useless to argue with him or thwart him in his fits of anger.
She thought of the meek and gentle Master Who overcame the world by His meekness and resolved to imitate Him. Therefore when Patricius stalked about the house during his violent outbursts of temper, Monica remained meek and quiet as if she deserved whatever was said.
However, she always managed to straighten things out later in the day when Patricius was calm. Often in the evening she would lead him to some favorite nook in their garden to enjoy the cool sea breezes and listen to the laughter of their two boys as they raced over the gravel paths and through the berry bushes.
St. Monica would wait her chance and then speak to Patricius about his fit of anger. She would gently show him how wrong and unjust he had been.
Casting his eyes on the ground or gazing steadily into the rippling fountain, he would listen patiently to St Monica. Her tenderness would conquer him and he would plead for forgiveness.
Time after time he promised, as they sat beneath the tall palm trees, to control his anger. He improved with the years but never became as patient and meek as his gentle and holy wife.
THE STUBBORN SON
Imagine how grieved and worried St Monica was when she noticed that Augustine, her younger son, was becoming more and more like his father. On several occasions he had shown a stubborn, angry temper.
Monica had trained her boys well because she wished them to be good Christians. With all her holy zeal, she was preparing them for the great day when they should be baptized and enrolled among the followers of Christ.
Full well she knew the dangers that beset them with pagan playmates and pagan teachers. Time and again, she warned them against the false teachings of their pagan friends. The loving mother felt that she had done her work well and had little to fear for the future of her boys.
What a blow she received when she heard that Augustine had joined the ranks of the anti-Christians! Could it be possible that the boy she brought up so carefully would turn his back on the God she loved and served? It was too terrible to be true. “It cannot be,” she cried. “Have all my efforts been of no avail?”
Sad to say, it was only too true. Augustine, a bright, clever lad of seventeen years, had joined those who despised the God Whom Monica loved. She heard it from his own lips when he returned from school.
Her loving heart was crushed when he told her that he knew too much to be a Christian and to believe their foolish teachings.
St. Monica was heartbroken. She withdrew to her room and shed tears of sorrow and anger. Her boy—her son—had become a traitor to her God. “It would have been better if he had never been born,” she moaned as she paced the floor, wringing her hands. She tried to pray but could not; the shock was too great.
BANISHED FROM HOME
The chirp of a bird drew her attention to the open window that faced the sea. She paused before it and gazed at the foamy waves as they dashed themselves upon the sandy shore.
Fond memories of other days rose before her—memories of her boys playing on the sand or battling in the waves, as she prayed for them. How proud she had been as they grew into stalwart youths! But that pride was crushed now.
“For seventeen years,” she sighed, “I have watched him and prayed for him. Morning, noon, and night, I have asked God to keep him good and holy and to protect him from evil. I had often dreamed of having him with me in heaven, but now—all is changed. He spurns the true God. He gives himself to sin and his soul to hell.”
The distracted woman cast herself upon a marble bench and wept bitterly. She arose shortly and brushed aside her tears. She had formed a plan to conquer the stubborn will of Augustine.
Banishing him from home would bring him to his senses, she thought. The echo of her son’s voice reached her ears as he called to one of the servants in the garden. She resolved to make a last plea and if this failed, she would send the boy away from his home.
Followed by her faithful brown dog, she approached the bench where Augustine was studying. The boy was surprised to see the sad face of his mother.
Kissing him, Monica begged him to give up his new friends and return to the God he had spurned. He told her very firmly that he had studied the matter most carefully and was convinced that she was in the wrong and he was right He was only a boy of seventeen, but he felt that he was much wiser than his mother.
A mother’s tears and a mother’s pleadings had had no effect on Augustine. There was nothing left for her to do but carry out her determination.
“Augustine,” she said, “there is no room in my home for a traitor to my God. Ungrateful, stubborn son, be gone from my presence forever!”
Augustine was dazed. Never before had he heard his mother speak like this. Nervously pushing the pebbles with his foot, he thought for a moment He was making his choice between his mother and his friends.
Too stubborn to give in, he decided in favor of his friends and hastened to the house to gather up some clothing and a few books. He left without a word of farewell. A mother’s love had banished Augustine from his home in order to bring him to his senses.
Night and day, St. Monica prayed for him. She pleaded with God to have mercy on her wayward son and to bring him back to see the truth. She asked the priests and the bishop to reason with the boy. But the stubborn youth refused to listen to reason.
The priests grew tired talking to him and they avoided his mother because the same cry was always on her lips, “Will you see my boy? Will you talk to Augustine? Will you pray for him?”
One day the good bishop, who was weary of listening to her pleadings, told her that he would trouble himself no more with the stubborn boy. This answer grieved the poor, distracted mother. She had determined to save her boy’s soul and she would have no rest while that soul was in danger of damnation.
Tears filled her eyes as she looked into the face of the bishop. “Oh, good bishop,” she cried, “during all these years have I prayed for him; during all these years have I wept for him. Yes, and gladly would I lay down my life for him. Do not tell me that there is no hope.”
This tender plea was too much for the bishop. Blessing the weeping mother, he said: “My friend, continue your prayers. It is impossible that the child of such tears should be lost.”
AUGUSTINE GOES TO ITALY
By this time, Monica had permitted Augustine to return home. Year followed year, but there was no change for the better in him. Finally when he was about twenty-nine years old, he decided to go to Rome to teach.
Monica feared that life away from his native city would only delay his conversion and, perhaps, bring him in contact with still more evil companions. She used all her powers to induce him to remain at Carthage.
But the call of Rome was ringing in his ears. His love for learning and adventure was stronger than his love for his mother.
Unknown to her, he boarded a small sailboat that had been lying at anchor in the harbor and sailed for Italy. When poor Monica heard the sad news, she hastened to the shore to bring her wayward boy home, but, alas! it was too late. The boat was fast disappearing from view.
“My boy is gone,” she cried, “but I shall follow him. I have prayed and suffered too long to give up the struggle now.”
St. Monica sailed on the next boat She wished to be near her son to protect him as much as possible. Augustine’s surprise was very great when his mother greeted him one day on the streets of Rome.
Augustine and his mother lived for some time in Rome but Augustine was not contented. Milan, the city of the north, attracted him. Thither he went, accompanied by his mother and brother and a few friends.
Monica was secretly pleased at this journey because the great St. Ambrose lived at Milan. Stories of his wonderful powers had long before reached the shores of Africa. New hope now dawned in Monica’s heart.
“If Augustine would only meet Ambrose,” she repeated over and over again. One day, through curiosity, Augustine and some of his friends wandered into the church to hear St. Ambrose preach. They wondered if the stories about his wonderful sermons were true.
The stirring sermon more than proved Ambrose’s greatness. The curious visitors returned again and again. They listened to Ambrose as he denounced their sins and their errors.
The grace of God began to work in Augustine. He made private visits to St. Ambrose, who clearly showed him the error of his ways.
St. Monica was overjoyed when she heard this. However, she did not stop her prayers on the eve of victory; she doubled them.
The great day finally came when Augustine was baptized and received into the church of God. The grace of God had brought success after thirteen years of prayers and tears, and the mother’s prayer was answered. Monica was satisfied and happy. She felt that her life work was over.
She yearned for her home in far-away Carthage. Augustine was now more obedient to her wishes. He made arrangements for the homeward journey.
It was, indeed, a joyful group that set out from Milan—Monica, her two sons, and some of their friends. They traveled by land to Ostia, a seaport near Rome.
Here a deadly fever attacked St Monica. She knew that her end was near. As Augustine sat at her bedside one day, she said to him, “My son, there is now nothing in life that gives me any pleasure. All my hopes in this world are now at an end. The only thing for which I desired to live was that I might see you a Christian and a child of heaven. I ask for nothing more. Be loyal and true to your God till death calls you.”
During the next few days the fever increased and, in her delirium, Monica spoke of nothing else but her love and prayers for Augustine. He had never realized until now the terrible sorrow that he had brought into his mother’s life. He stooped to kiss her fevered brow and his silent tears fell upon the holy face that had shed so many tears for him.
Just before the end, the dying mother opened her eyes and smiled at her sons. They told her that it grieved them to have her die in a strange land, far removed from home and friends.
But with her dying breath she whispered: “It makes little difference where you bury my body. The only thing I ask of you both is that, no matter where you are, you remember me at the altar of God.” Breathing became more difficult and soon St. Monica passed to God.
Augustine, the boy of her prayers and tears, later became the great St. Augustine.
Children miss nothing when their father comes first, but rather feel more secure and happy. This is because when you make your husband number one, you build a happier relationship with him. Your happy marriage will be the foundation of a happy home in which the entire family benefits. If you find it hard to understand how to make your husband number one in priority, without neglecting your children, keep this rule in mind: Don’t put the comforts and whims of your children ahead of your husband’s basic needs.
-Fascinating Womanhood, Helen Andelin https://amzn.to/2SHlS4k (afflink)
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An Introduction to the Devout Life is a book to be read with pencil in hand. It is a book to be read again and again. It is a book to make your guide for the rest of your life. It goes to the heart of becoming good. Its aim is to help you be rid of sin and even the inclinations to sin. Alone, its 10 brief meditations in Part I will orient you toward God for the rest of your life. No one will come away without being profoundly impressed and without being motivated to enter upon the devout life . . . which leads ultimately to God and to Heaven.
In Consoling Thoughts on Trials of an Interior Life St. Francis de Sales, beloved Doctor of the Church, gives us treasured insight from the master of spiritual direction. How can the soul persevere in piety in the midst of affliction? How should we conduct ourselves when suffering interior trials? How can we profit from our own faults? St. Francis de Sales explains all this and more.
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