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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.

About Monica, Mother of Augustine: 

St. Monica was the mother of St Augustine of Hippo, and it is from his writings that she is known. Her husband, Patricius, was a man of modest rank at Thagaste in North Africa; they had three children, of whom Augustine was the eldest, and when he was eighteen his mother was left a widow. Monica had tried to bring him up as a Christian, but she was over-ambitious for his worldly success, and he regarded her religion with scorn. Augustine was converted to Manichaesim, a dualistic religion of Persian origin that was popular at the time.   His earlier vacillations and his liaison with a woman of unknown name caused Monica the deepest distress.  They had a son,  Monica’s grandson.  Augustine named him Adeodatus, “Gift of God”. During this time a bishop whom she had consulted gave her the famous reassurance, ‘It is not possible that the son of so many tears should be lost.’

When in 383 Augustine slipped away to Italy, Monica followed him, first to Rome and then to Milan, where she became an obedient disciple of  St Ambrose. Three years later her devoted pertinacity was rewarded, when Augustine decided to receive baptism: she ‘rejoiced triumphantly’, and retired with him and his friends to Cassiciacum, a happy woman. After the baptism they set out to return to Africa. St Augustine records that at the port of Ostia on the Tiber he and his mother were joined in a most moving conversation on the everlasting life of the blessed; five days later she fell ill, and died there. St Monica had at times been a trying mother, and Augustine had not always been a considerate son; but he had come to recognize her as his true mother in the spirit as well as in the flesh: his own experience taught him to speak of parenthood as a sort of bishopric. (Adapted from The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, by David Attwater)

 

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.   She stayed with him.  She was faithful. She reflected in her life God’s Word, the Epistle reading:  Ephesians 5:21-23.   She knew her husband to be her head…but in Christ Jesus .    The Ephesians passage is not the model in our day of the liberated woman…or man for that matter. As husbands in Christ means a whole different way than the world’s way of parenting:  a husband is to be like Christ.  “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”  (Ephesians 5: 25).  In fact, in the Ephesians text,  there are more verses on husbands than wives, and probably needs to be.  

A neo-feminist wag could harumph and say, Noted for being a mother!  As if that is no accomplishment!  “Being a king, an emperor or a president is mighty small potatoes compared to being a mother…” (see rest of Billy Sunday’s  quote here). Monica’s  strength was her Lord and she prayed for the conversion of both her husband and their son, yet like us she was a sinner.  She also wanted worldly success for Augustine.  Mother and son did not see eye-to-eye.  Yet, Monica persisted in prayer for them and in Christ they knew by faith through His grace, they were reconciled.  Monica is encouragement for us  persist in prayer and not give up (cf.  Luke 18:1ff). Patricus and his son Augustine were baptized.  Her son became one of the most important theologians and pastors whose writings influenced one young monk, centuries later,  in the Order of St. Augustine:  Martin Luther. As you read in the bio, Augustine thought of the family as a kind of bishopric.  Dr. Luther wrote about fathers and mothers being bishops and bishopesses for their children!    Monica’s son’s  feast day is tomorrow. Freedom in Christ is praying for someone who may not even want your prayers. 

From The Confessions of Augustine of Hippo,Pastor and Hippo, feast day, August 28th:

(Monica) was brought up in modesty and sobriety. She was made by You obedient to her parents rather than by them to You. When she reached marriageable age, she was given to a man and served him as lord. She tried to win him for You, speaking to him of You by her virtues through which You made her beautiful, so that her husband loved, respected and admired her. She bore with his infidelities and never had a quarrel with her husband on this account. For she looked forward to Your mercy coming upon him, in hope that, as he came to believe in You, he might become chaste….Another gift with which You endowed at good servant of Yours, in whose womb ou created me, my God, my mercy (Ps. 58:18), was that whenever she could, she reconciled dissident and quarrelling people. She showed herself so great a peacemaker that when she heard from both sides many bitter things, Monica would never reveal to one anything about the other unless it might help to reconcile them….At the end, when her husband had reached the end of his life in time, she succeeded in gaining him for You. After he was a baptized believer, she had no cause to complain of his behavior, which she had tolerated in one not yet a believer. She was also a servant of Your servants: any of them who knew her found much to praise in her, held her in honor, and loved her, for they felt Your presence in her heart, witnessed by the fruits of her holy way of life. She had “testimony to her good works” (1 Timothy 5:10). She had brought up her children, enduring travail as often as she saw them wandering away from You. Lastly, Lord—by Your gift You allow me to speak for Your servants, for before her falling asleep we were bound together in community in You after receiving the grace of Baptism—she exercised care for everybody as if they were all her own children. She served all as if she was a daughter to all of us. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing  House)

 

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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)

From The Confessions of Augustine of Hippo,Pastor and Hippo, feast day, August 28th:

(Monica) was brought up in modesty and sobriety. She was made by You obedient to her parents rather than by them to You. When she reached marriageable age, she was given to a man and served him as lord. She tried to win him for You, speaking to him of You by her virtues through which You made her beautiful, so that her husband loved, respected and admired her. She bore with his infidelities and never had a quarrel with her husband on this account. For she looked forward to Your mercy coming upon him, in hope that, as he came to believe in You, he might become chaste….

Another gift with which You endowed at good servant of Yours, in whose womb ou created me, my God, my mercy (Ps. 58:18), was that whenever she could, she reconciled dissident and quarrelling people. She showed herself so great a peacemaker that when she heard from both sides many bitter things, Monica would never reveal to one anything about the other unless it might help to reconcile them….

At the end, when her husband had reached the end of his life in time, she succeeded in gaining him for You. After he was a baptized believer, she had no cause

to complain of his behavior, which she had tolerated in one not yet a believer. She was also a servant of Your servants: any of them who knew her found much to praise in her, held her in honor, and loved her, for they felt Your presence in her heart, witnessed by the fruits of her holy way of life. She had “testimony to her good works” (1 Timothy 5:10). She had brought up her children, enduring travail as often as she saw them wandering away from You. Lastly, Lord—by Your gift You allow me to speak for Your servants, for before her falling asleep we were bound together in community in You after receiving the grace of Baptism—she exercised care for everybody as if they were all her own children. She served all as if she was a daughter to all of us.

Reflection:

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

St. Augustine’s prayer reflects autobiographical information I did not know  about the Bishop of Hippo and an autobiography that challenges  our  post-modern ‘sensibilities’.  Monica’s husband seem to be a “two-timer”.   She stayed with him.  She was faithful. She probably took literally yesterday’s Epistle reading:   Ephesians 5:21-23  She wanted her husband to be her head…but 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.  I am not saying that a wife in an abusive marriage should stay.  It does not sound like Monica was physically abused.  She was, though, spiritually hurt by her feckless husband and faithless son.  She persisted in prayer for them and they may have known it! The Lord certainly did.  Both 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.   Freedom in Christ is praying for someone who may not even want your prayers.  

P.S. Sometimes I think a day like this one should be for the Church, Mother’s Day.

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.

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It seems to me strange that a mom would be honored just for being a mom.  Yes, her son was important.  Augustine was one of the great fathers in the Lord’s Church.  Monica was devout Christian but her son and husband were not Christians.  Augustine had a child out of wedlock.  He was pagan philosopher with an incredible intellect.  Monica is so remembered for her persistence in prayer for her family, as a mother.  Parents would do well to think on such parental persistence in prayer.  She personifies the widow in our Lord’s parable:

 1And (Jesus) told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18)

Monica was persistent in prayer for many, many years.  She also personifies Proverbs 31:

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29“Many women have done excellently,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her of the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the gates.

In my opinion, this day would be appropriate as Christian mothers’ day!   (Just as  I would nominate  March 19, the Festival of St. Joseph, Guardian of  Jesus, as Christian fathers’ day with a special emphasis on adoption).

Let us pray:  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, wh with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Bio (from   http://cyberbrethren.com/ ):

Today we honor and remember St. Monica, beloved and blessed mother of St. Augustine. Her experiences as a wife of a man who was a harsh pagan, but who was converted eventually due in large measure to her loving patience with him, are immortalized for us by St. Augustine himself, chiefly in his deeply introspective work of spiritual autobiography, Confessions. Her ardent and continuing prayers for her son and her constant love and support for him saw him move from paganism, to heretical Christianity, while living outside marriage with a woman who fathered him a child, to eventual orthodox Christianity and service as a bishop. Here is The LCMS biographical note about her.

A native of North Africa, Monica (A.D. 333–387) was the devoted mother of Saint 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.

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