Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Mother and Son

St. Monica (27 Aug), Widow and Mother
St. Augustine (28 Aug), Bishop and Doctor

St. Augustine's unruly childish ways advanced into immoral adult ways as he grew into a young man. He pilloryies himself in his autobiography, but to be fair, unless he omitted very important details, he probably would have fit in very much with well-to-do young men today. He was athletic, laidback, very intelligent, and kind-spirited: traits that made him popular his young friends, and beloved as a shepherd of souls.

His mother, Monica, was worried sick for him when he left the Church at 16 years old in favor of a mistress. Newly widowed by her husband Patrick, she was free to follow Augustine and his young family to whatever town they journied for Augustine's next teaching position. The last such stop was at Milan. She must have nagged him a lot. In fact, she must have nagged a lot of people a lot. After she had presumably complained to him about her son, St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, is said to have chided her, "Dear lady, perhaps you will obtain greater success if you speak less to Augustine about God, and more to God about Augustine." She must have spoken to God about her errant son a great deal as well. In fact, Augustine tells us in his Confessions that St. Monica went to Mass and received Communion each day - a rare thing at the time. Most parishes only had Mass on Sundays, a few feast days, and on the occasion of someone's funeral. St. Monica would listen for the town cryer each morning to hear where somebody had died, so that she could hurry off to that parish for Mass. She must have offered many Holy Communions for the conversion of her son. Another time, St. Ambrose, to console her said, "Dear lady, have no fear. A child of so many tears and prayers will not be lost to God."

Sure enough, Augustine was converted with the help of his mother's prayers and communions - and she lived just long enough to see it on this side of heaven. Augustine went on to be ordained within a few years, and resettling in Hippo near his hometown of Thagaste, he was elected bishop there. His physical stamina and intellectual gifts served him well. He slept very little and travelled around his diocese almost constantly, developing a reputation as a powerful and insightful speaker, preacher, and teacher. He wrote an immense collection of letters, sermons, and books. Even the small fragment that remains to us today is an impressive collection. Augustine's gentle temperament brought him great affection, even from people he had the displeasure of having to correct or chastise.

More than a few mothers today have sons who have left the Church. For that matter, all of us have friends and family that have drifted away. As our relationship with Christ has matured, this distance between Him and our loved ones causes us no little suffering. St. Monica is a great role model and intercessor for such people.

St. Augustine's gifts, used so frivolously in his time of sin, became instrumental for grace after his conversion. All the natural gifts that God gives us will be magnified by his grace when we submit them to God's use. Let us look to the Holy Spirit for guidance in putting our gifts to His service.

Ss. Monica and Augustine, pray for us.

No comments: