The life of St. Monica is one of great fortitude, patience, perseverance and prayer. Her life situation could have easily turned her into a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent; yet she was none of these. At a young age of 13, she was given in marriage to a pagan, Patricius. No sooner she was married; she realized that this marriage was not going to be smooth sailing. But Monica neither grumbled nor despaired. She busied herself in trying to lead her husband to God by preaching to him, not in words but by her behavior.
Although her piety and charity were not appreciated by her husband, he admired her and had a certain degree of respect for her. For years she endured with patience his infidelity and never had any dissension with him on this account. He was also violent in anger; but she had learned that an angry husband should not be resisted, either in deed or in word. But as soon as he had grown calm and was tranquil, and she saw a fitting moment, she would give him a reason for her conduct. She always acted in humility, never cursed her husband or her circumstances. This behavior exhibited by her was one of the reasons why she was never physically abused by him. When he verbally abused her, she opened not her mouth but she waited on the Lord for His mercy upon him, and believed that in His time He would set her husband free.
Monica had a very difficult life. Not only did she have to deal with her husband but she had a difficult mother-in-law as well. But her perseverance in prayer finally won her the battle and both her husband and mother-in-law were baptized.
The biggest battle in her life, however, was the one to save the soul of her son Augustine. He was a brilliant boy who at a young age had gone astray, indulging in all the pleasures the world could offer him. For a while, after Monica came to know of his dissolute habits, she banned him from her house. In her sorrow a certain bishop consoled her, saying “Don’t worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost.” Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him.
She followed her son wherever he went. Her journey led her to Milan where she met Bishop Ambrose who became her spiritual guide and it was through his intervention that she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after 17 long years of resilience. Monica, through her prayers and sacrifice gifted the church one of the greatest teachers and Christian philosophers ever known.
For us, personally, Monica stands as a role model, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter-in-law and in general as a Christian. We need to emulate her and try to imbibe some of her values; the first of these being patience. In our lives, we often tend to be impatient as we are accustomed to things being available to us at the push of a button. With Internet searches, online shopping, text messages, tweets and instant credit, we have little patience for things that take time. Likewise, we want instant answers to our prayers. Monica however, patiently waited upon the Lord for long years until finally her patience was rewarded.
Her faithfulness to God and to her duties coupled with her strong will and perseverance and well disciplined character are like beacons for us to follow. Monica, just like Mother Mary accepted whatever life had in store for her. She was the handmaid of the Lord and through every storm in her life she clung to Him, constantly saying yes and accepting the will of the Father in her life. For her obedience, she was ultimately rewarded.
Another thing we need to take back from her life is to stop grumbling about the things that aren’t pleasing to us or that don’t go our way and instead offer it all up to the Lord. We need to stop talking unnecessarily, as it is only in the silence of our hearts that we can hear the voice of God. And lastly, we need to be prayer warriors, rejoicing at all times and giving praise and thanks in all circumstances.
St Monica, whose feast the Church celebrates on 27th August, is today venerated as a special patroness of married women and as an example for Christian motherhood.
St. Monica, model of patience, prayer and perseverance, intercede for us, that we too may be awakened to the sacred mysteries and learn to trust in God’s perfect timing. Amen