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Archive for August 27th, 2018

About Monica, Mother of Augustine: A  native of North Africa, Monica (AD 333-387) was the devoted mother of St. Augustine. Throughout her life, she sought the spiritual welfare of her children, especially that of her brilliant son Augustine. Widowed at a young age, she devoted herself to her family, praying many years for Augustine’s conversion. When Augustine left North Africa to go to Italy, she followed him to Rome and then to Milan. There she had the joy of witnessing her son’s conversion to the Christian faith. Weakened by her travels, Monica died at Ostia, Italy, on the journey she had hoped would take her back to her native Africa. On some Church Year calendars, Monica is remembered on May 4. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Collect of the Day:

O Lord, You strengthened Your patient servant Monica through spiritual discipline to persevere in offering her love, her prayers, and her tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine, their son. Deepen our devotion to bring others, even our own family, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever.

Scripture:

Proverbs 31: 10 An excellent wife who can find?
   She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
   and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
   all the days of her life.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1: 5

Reflection:  Monica’s husband was an adulterer.  Her son had a child out of wedlock and he was a pagan philosopher. Monica was a Christian.  She stayed with her husband.  She was faithful. She probably took literally the Epistle reading:  Ephesians 5:21-23.   She wanted her husband to be her head in Christ Jesus.  She is not the model in our day of the liberated woman! Thank, God.  Her strength was her Lord and she prayed for the conversion of both her husband and their son. Though her prayers were not answered at once, nevertheless, the Lord sustained her and that is also an answer to prayer.  Pr. Scott Murray in his Memorial Moment today, describes Monica’s faith which is the true faith of Christ’s Church:

True prayer is an act of faith. It is a struggle with God, in which the believer denies what he knows about himself, namely that he is a sinner, and what he knows about God who hears prayer: that He is holy. Imagine the impertinence of wrestling with God until you get an answer! Think of the courage required to cast your prayers in His teeth day after day demanding of Him what you desire. Who would have the confidence to do this? Only those who have full faith and confidence in their Savior, that He can be approached by us with noisy and constant petitions. Only if we have the faith that clings to the promise that God would hear our prayers and answer them will we have the courage to repeat our claims.

A wife should not stay in a physically abusive marriage.  Monica was not physically abused.  She was, though, spiritually and emotionally hurt by her feckless husband and faithless son and she was faithful as mother and as a praying Mother in true faith.  She persisted in prayer for them. Our prayers are not answered according to our schedule and timing, but she persisted. Again Pr. Murray:

We may even pray a lifetime only to have God fulfill our request years later or even after we are long gone. We must pray in faith because we may never see on earth that for which we prayed. Martin Luther extolled Monica, the mother of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, because she prayed for her whole lifetime that her son, Augustine, would become a Christian. The Lord answered her only near the end of her life, but in a way that was far greater than anything she had prayed for or hoped. Augustine became not just a Christian, but a pastor and bishop, and finally the greatest teacher of the post-apostolic Christian church in its first millennium. So don’t give up praying.

Both Monica’s husband and son were baptized.  Her son became one of the most important theologians and pastors whose writings influenced one young monk in the Order of St. Augustine:  Martin Luther.   St. Augustine’s feast day is tomorrow. Freedom in Christ is praying for someone who may not even want your prayers.  

 

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