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Our Source of Inner Strength: Weekly Message for 08-21-2018
Dear Digital Pilgrims in Christ,
The end of August brings both the start of preparations for a new school year and the changing of the seasons. During this month as we begin arranging routines for fall and considering all that will be expected of us when summer ends, it is easy to overlook the people in our lives, specifically those present to us each day in our families. In seeking inspiration for how to persevere in our encouragement, prayer, and support toward family, friends, classmates, and co-workers, we can look to the example of Saint Monica.
Saint Monica, the beloved patron of difficult marriages and disappointing children, is most known for her perseverance in praying for her pagan husband and wayward son. When Saint Monica pleaded with her husband to allow for their three children to be baptized, he agreed at first, but ultimately prevented the baptisms. Saint Monica was both distressed and frustrated by both her husband and mother-in-law’s bitterness toward Christianity, but she never relented in her prayers for the both of them and for their conversion. Finally, when her oldest son was around 16 years old, both Patricius and his mother converted to the Christian faith. A year later, Patricius passed away.
Unfortunately, Saint Monica’s family struggles would not end. While her two younger children embraced the faith, her oldest child, Augustine, did not. As he grew into adulthood, Augustine fell into laziness and succumbed to the temptations of wealth and lust. He partied, embraced Manicheism (a pagan faith), and conceived a son, Adeodatus, out of wedlock. When Augustine finally returned home, Saint Monica turned him away out of despair over the man he had become.
As we know, however, the story didn’t end there. Saint Monica began to fast and weep over Augustine, praying that he might turn toward a life of Christ. Eventually, he was taken under the wing of Bishop (Saint) Ambrose, who would become both her spiritual director and the man who would baptize Augustine. Not only would Augustine one day come to cast off his former life, but he would embrace a life of celibacy and become one of the doctors of the church and the man we recognize today as Saint Augustine of Hippo.
St. Monica embodied the Christian virtues we all strive to live in our daily lives. Pope Francis speaks of this in Gaudete et Exsultate. See our Study Circle Guide on this document here.
“This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life’s ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31): this is the source of the peace found in the saints. Such inner strength makes it possible for us, in our fast-paced, noisy and aggressive world, to give a witness of holiness through patience and constancy in doing good.” (Gaudete et Exultate 112)
While the daily commitments of life can consume us, we must not forget the people God has placed in our lives and the miraculous ways in which he can use us to encourage, pray for, and uplift those around us. Saint Monica, whose feast day is August 27th, reminds us of the perseverance and hope of conversion, and what is possible through God in the lives of those we love.
With the assurance of my prayers,