Saint Augustine’s Confessions was a difficult read for me. I found it to be much less interesting than his City of God, which I could hardly put down after I began reading it. For my part, the most interesting part of Confessions were the praises that Augustine heaped up his mother Monica. For, his sentiments about his mother drew me in to reflecting upon the sacrifices that my mother and grandmother made for me.
Saint Monica (331 – 387), whose Memorial the Catholic Church celebrates on August 27th was born in Roman Africa and was of indigenous African descent; particularly of the Berber people who lived west of the Nile Valley. She was raised a Catholic by her parents and was given in marriage to a pagan named Patricius who was, unfortunately, fond of committing adultery and beating her. Nonetheless, Monica persisted in her faith, bore three children, advised other wives who were victims of domestic violence, and eventually converted her husband to Catholicism, which helped him to subdue his anger and illicit passions.
Of course St. Monica is most famous for the sacrifices and tireless prayers which were offered up for her son Augustine, which paved the way for his re-conversion back to Catholicism. Indeed, Monica was committed to her oldest son’s salvation by offering up prayers and fasting, and by following him wherever he traveled. Yet, this woman’s sainthood is not just tied up in the sacrifices that she made for him.
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:12-13). The life of St. Monica is not just about how she prayed her son Augustine into Heaven, but even more so about how she loved on everyone in her life in a way that only those who are truly In Christ can love. It is about how she endured through deep personal pain to still desire the best for those who hurt her, both physically and emotionally. It is about how she loved through a life that she would not have chosen for herself. It is about how she loved with a timely love, a love that served an immediate need for an eternal good. It is about how she loved everyone in spite of who they were and where they were at.
What God has to teach us through the example of St. Monica is that each one of us are intrinsic cooperative components in the life of ‘other’. Meaning that God desires to use us to draw those around us into a deeper commitment and love affair with Him. God will use us to bring about His glory whether we cooperate or not, but that we voluntarily offer ourselves up to be His bodies of love on earth is what He truly desires. St. Monica did that – she offered up her body to the Lord to use as He saw fit, and for this she suffered on earth and was glorified in Heaven.
One of my favorite verses in sacred Scripture comes from 1 Peter 5:10: “The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” This passage got me through prison – it sustained my hope for better things to come, but now I believe that this passage may have been what got St. Monica through everyday of her life.

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Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.