St. Augustine was also born in North Africa and became a source of concern for his parents as a young adult. Forsaking his Christian Faith, he became a follower of Mani, a Persian prophet. Ambitious to advance his career, Augustine left Africa to seek a career in Rome in 383 a.d. He eventually became a professor of rhetoric in Milan.
While in Milan, Augustine was impressed with the preaching of the Bishop, St. Ambrose and eventually was baptized by him, returning to his Christian Faith. After 16 years of praying for her son, St. Monica had the joy of seeing her son embrace the Christian faith as an adult. She traveled to Milan to see him and died on the way home to Africa, saying that all her hopes had been fulfilled.
In the meantime, Augustine had fathered a son by a long-term lover, who left the baby with him. The young father named his son Adeodatus and moved back to his native town in Tagaste to raise his son, care for family property, and spend time writing.
When his son died as a teenager, Augustine sold the property and became a clergyman in the coastal city of Hippo, north of Tagaste in North Africa. After his conversion and with his gift for preaching in a way to appeal to all peoples, Augustine was eventually called to be the Bishop of Hippo.
With Augustine's talent for writing about religious topics and his ability to preach in such a way as to sway the intellectual community, as well the ordinary people, he became involved in defending the Faith. While he was a prolific writer, many of his works were lost. However, there are some who have survived to this day. Two popular books that survive are The City of God and the Confessions of St. Augustine.
St. Monica has long been an advocate for wives and mothers who pray for their spouses and children. She is a source of hope for devout Christians who are concerned about family members and others who have lost their way. Let us invoke her assistance whose example and prayers led her husband to embrace the Faith and her wayward son to end up as a holy Saint.
Augustine reminds us of God's mercy and that He is always willing to give us a second chance to return to Him and be loved unconditionally. He or she might even be given the graces to become a Saint.
Praise the Lord!!!
Stephanie Morris, Ph.D. Historian, certified Archivist, ASBS emerita
St. Katharine urged the Sisters to “Pray, whether you feel like it or not …. We never lose by making an effort.”
Sixteen years is a long time to pray for a special intention; St. Monica may have felt weary at times, saying the same prayer over and over again. But God heard every prayer and every heartfelt wish. St. Monica lived to see her prayers answered when St. Augustine returned to the practice of the Christian faith.
When I say a “Hail Mary” to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, I don’t see any result. But I hope that maybe a breeze of cool air will comfort a soldier in a hot, dry climate. Thinking that I continue to pray for peace and trust that Our Lady and Our Lord hear.
Pat Chiafa, ASBS emerita
Every evening at 8:00pm I pray the Relevant Radio Family Rosary across America facilitated by Fr. Francis Hoffman, aka “Father Rocky.” Nightly, there are several requests from mothers asking for prayers that their children will return to the faith. Father Rocky has stated multiple times that this is the most requested prayer received. I include my own sons in this petition as well. St. Monica has been a source of inspiration and hope for me throughout the years.
There is no greater moment in life than when a mother cuddles her newborn infant. She sees the face of God in that precious baby and her heart is overwhelmed and warmed by its innocence and purity. My tears of joy that flowed at the birth of my children were motivated by the sheer marvel at having co-created with God to bring forth such love. At that moment God is so real and the awareness of His Presence in this tiny being is rooted in the depth of our being. That experience is etched on our hearts and it remains forever. We have such dreams for our children. While I did not entertain any specific outcome for their life, I assumed that my boys would embrace the values that were sacred to me. To that end, they attended 12 years of a Catholic school as well as a Catholic college. I am deeply saddened that each one has chosen not to actively practice the faith.
It is natural that adult children set out on their own path and seek adventure and fulfillment. You noted St. Augustine left his homeland seeking to advance his career. As mothers, we are concerned that distractions may pull them into harmful directions. Henri Nouwen articulates my burden when he writes, “I suspect that we too often have lost contact with the source of our own existence and have become strangers in our own house. We tend to run around trying to solve the problems of our world while anxiously avoiding confrontation with that reality wherein our problems find their deepest roots: our own selves.”
St. Monica is a wonderful reminder that it is with faithful trust that God will hear our prayers for our children and give them the opportunity to return to his open arms where He will welcome them home.