A Mother’s Love
There is a Christian hymn that goes,
“There is a balm in Gilead, a balm that sets me free…
This popular song reflects the desire
of many people’s hearts to be healed by Jesus Christ.
As St. Augustine of Hippo reminds us in his Confessions,
our hearts are restless until they rest in God.
St. Augustine of Hippo,
a fourth century bishop, monk, and theologian,
left the Western world his writings
on God and on the moral life,
as well as a guideline or Rule
for women and men religious on how to live together in Christ.
We Sisters of Rita, an Augustinian community,
remember him best for his Rule and
his example of a good and virtuous life.
His holy life, however, came after a long search and struggle.
And much of the success in finding the God of his fathers and mothers
was through the effort and prayers of his mother, St. Monica…
So what makes Monica so notable from other women?
The fact that she was a virtuous mother of a famous son is one reason.
But that alone does not make the difference.
Her patience, prayer, and persistence through life
earn her the respect and honor of all Christians.
She shows us all how to live a faithful life until death.
Her motherly concern was like any other mother.
Her son, Augustine, grew up in Tagaste, Africa
when it was under Roman rule and influence.
Yet he was precious, brilliant, and rebellious
of the example of Catholic faith
his mother believed in so staunchly.
He wanted to find this out his own way,
through struggle and error, by himself.
His saving grace was his loyal and deep friendships with others.
And when he moved to Milan, Italy
as a teacher and orator,
he wanted fame, fortune, and a future in the imperial circles.
He took on the ways of the world.
Monica was heartbroken and hurt.
Her response to her independent son
was to follow him wherever he went,
to pray without ceasing, and
to have confidence in the good and gracious God to help her.
She sought out other people to influence Augustine
in order to bring to fruition in what she considered
the will of God in her life and in Augustine’s.
She was one determined lady.
As she followed Augustine, even by ship,
you can imagine what the bright, soul searching Augustine may have felt!
She even went so far to go to the Bishop Ambrose of Milan
to beg and plead with him to talk her son into changing his ways.
She wept freely for her son alone and
in front of others for the sake of her son.
When she was following Augustine
in what was considered the prime of his life,
she was considered an elderly lady by the standards of the time.
She was a social woman of influence in her own community,
setting the standards of Catholic living in a still pagan environment.
She was active in her Church and with family and friends.
To leave this entirely behind
to be a prayer advocate and sojourner
on Augustine’s spiritual and physical journey
must have cost her.
Her example as a senior citizen,
certainly affected by the physical and emotional challenges of her age,
set an example to follow.
St. Augustine was baptized into the Catholic faith at age thirty-three.
Monica was there to see and to rejoice
in the fulfillment of her heart and desires.
Jesus Christ had been recognized by Augustine.
His mother’s courage and prayer came to fruition….
At the end of her life,
Monica experienced the presence of God in a very special way,
perhaps similar to a vision of heaven.
She experienced this with Augustine,
sitting in quiet solitude before the Lord.
To rest in the Lord with others after life’s journey
surely is the pearl to be sought of great value.
Whether it is as seniors or not so aged,
our life calls for a persistence and belief
in the goodness of God, prayer, and
a caring concern for the rest of humanity.
We might not be able to convert our loved ones.
But we all have the power to change someone’s life
for the better through prayer and perseverance.
For men and women of this century,
Monica’s life is relevant to our need for healing and happiness.
— Sisters of Saint Rita
[PHOTO by Reinhardhauke window of St. Monica and her son St Augustine. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Made available by Wikimedia Commons]