This week, we celebrate the feast days of St. Monica on August 27 and her son,St. Augustine on August 28. St. Monica’s persistent prayers are credited for theconversion of her pagan husband and St. Augustine to the Catholic faith. To helpfoster a devotion to St. Monica in asking her intercession for loved ones who havefallen away from the faith, Fr. Chad has commissioned a statue of her that will beplaced in the vestibule of the church. The statue will depict St. Monica holding a Biblethat will have a slot for people to deposit the names of their loved ones on slips ofpaper.
Author Brandon Vogt wrote a blog entry for Word on Fire entitled, How St.Monica Can Help Your Child Return to the Church which includes excerptsfrom his book and video series, RETURN: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church. The following is aselection from the blog and you can find the entire entry at here.
Although the conversion of Monica's husband pleased her, she still worried about her son, Augustine. Though brilliant and gifted, he spent most of his time carousing the streets with friends, stealing food, and living promiscuously. He even fathered a son out of wedlock. Yet Monica refused to give up on her son, just as she committed to her husband. She prayed daily and intensely for Augustine, fasted for his sake, and begged God to help him return to faith. When Augustine traveled to Rome and Milan for his education, Monica followed him and continued praying.
While in Milan, she met Ambrose, the local bishop who would later be canonized a saint. Ambrose became a spiritual guide to her. He noted her restless longing for her son and the hours she spent praying for him. He promised her, "Surely the son of so many tears will not perish." His prediction would eventually prove correct.
Augustine and Ambrose struck up a friendship and began discussions about Christianity. Ambrose was the first high-level Christian thinker Augustine had met. As a result of their many back-and-forth dialogues, Augustine finally decided to convert to Catholicism. Ambrose baptized the 32-year-old Augustine, who would eventually grow into one of the most influential thinkers in Western history, and one of the greatest saints in the Catholic Church.
Monica could hardly contain her enthusiasm after Augustine's baptism. She and her son began sharing beautiful conversations about God and heaven. As she lay on her deathbed, content at having seen both her husband and her son come back to the faith, she felt her whole life's mission had been accomplished.
St. Monica exemplifies the power of a praying parent. She wasn't able to convince Augustine with words, and in fact, whenever she tried to talk to him about religion, he brushed her away. But through her daily, committedintercession, over more than fifteen years, Augustine was able to journey into the Church.
What can we learn from Monica's example? First, don't stop praying for your child. When Monica complained that Augustine would not listen to her admonitions that he become a Catholic, Ambrose urged her, "Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine." She took his advice and never gave up, even when things looked dark. Eventually, her persistence paid off.
The second thing to learn from St. Monica is not to just pray for your child—you should also pray for an "Ambrose" to step into your child's life. Perhaps there is just too much baggage between you and your child so that he will no longer hear truth from your lips. That's understandable. Pray that God will bring someone else into his path, someone with just the right combination of personality, interests, motives, and heart. Just as Ambrose stepped in to help Augustine, so you might need someone to nudge your child along.
(Also, keep in mind that while you're praying for someone to step into your child's life, other parents are praying the same thing for their child. And you may be that person! Even if your child tunes you out, don't be closed off to helping other children return to faith. You could be the Ambrose for someone else's Augustine!)
The third takeaway is that you can ask St. Monica's intercession for your child. … Among all the saints in heaven, few know the gut-wrenching pain of a wayward child more than St. Monica. Reach out to her and ask her to pray for your child, just as she did for Augustine.BACK TO LIST