Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A loving mother

     There was a woman of faith named Monica who lived from 332 to 387 in the town of Tagaste in Northern Africa.  She had married a strong and somewhat good man who was a pagan.  He was tolerant of her religion, but lived the lifestyle of laxed morality and powerful arrogance, with at least two of the three dimensions that we so often hear of in those kind of self absorbed men - wine and women (I'm not sure about the "song").   In 354 they had a son named Augustine.  Despite mom's desires for her son, dad won out and provided the best secular education for him, every opportunity for physical growth and life experience, and encouraged him to follow in his footsteps.  Augustine did just that, living a wild life of reckless abandon, fathering a child out of wedlock, and establishing himself as a "wild thing". 

     All the while, Monica continued to pray for him and love him unceaselessly, as she did for her husband.  For thirty-two years she prayed for Augustine and agonized over him.  She used every opportunity to instill Christian values and a knowledge of Christ, with seemingly little success.  In a moment of grace Augustine, while in Milan, overheard Ambrose, the bishop, preach about Christ.  His interest was aroused and he and Ambrose (saint) began a dialogue that led to Augustine embracing the faith, converting from his former ways, repenting and being baptized.  He went on to become a priest and bishop (in 395) in Hippo in Northern Africa, where he served for thirty-five years.  He wrote his "Confessions", became a great champion of the faith, a Doctor and teacher of the Church, and a source of pride for his mom and dad (who had also converted to the faith).  Augustine's feast is tomorrow (August 28th).  Monica's faith, persistence and motherly love is celebrated today.  I'm glad that she did not give up on her son and her husband.  I know many mothers who agonize over their children and the direction of their lives.  Monica is a model for them of "a loving mother".

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