The Fruit of Prayer

Monica sat in church that afternoon, tired and tearful, and thinking about her life.  Married for 12 years, with 3 kids and a violent husband at home, she even had her overbearing mother-in-law living with them.  Had it always been like this?  Monica remembered her parents, both faithful Christians, who’d given her a happy childhood.  But their choice in her husband left a lot to be desired.  He was much older than Monica and had a boring job at City Hall.  Worse than that, he wasn’t a Christian and resented all the time she spent at church.  He wouldn’t let the kids be baptized, and this hurt Monica most of all.  She loved Jesus so much and wanted her children to share in that love.  So Monica cried and prayed to God for strength, and faith, and patience.
For the next few years, life seemed no happier for her.  Her husband drank heavily and everyone in town knew he was unfaithful to her.  Her oldest son was now away at college and, while he was an excellent student, he enjoyed drinking too much and sleeping around–just like his dad.  But Monica never complained to anyone but her Lord.  Her prayers seemed to have been answered finally when her husband, now in failing health, accepted his wife’s Christian faith and was baptized, just one year before his death.  Even her mother-in-law had joined the Church.  These were consolations to Monica, though her oldest son seemed further than ever from a Christian life.
He was teaching now in a big city and Monica knew his life was a mess.  He’d been living with a woman and now they’d had a child together.  His circle of friends was disreputable, even anti-Christian.  It broke Monica’s heart and her prayers and tears for her dear son seemed limitless.   Things got so bad that she even adopted his illegitimate child so she could keep her oldest son closer to her.  She prayed that her example of Christian love would bring him to Christ, too.  When her son got a big promotion to teach in a large university, Monica moved to the same city to be close to him.  She still went to Church every day to pray for him.  Monica became friends with the local Bishop, who encouraged her continued prayers and fasting for her son’s conversion.  Finally, in God’s time, her prayers were answered and, at the age of 33, her son was baptized at Easter by their friend, the Bishop.
The year was 387 and the bishop was St. Ambrose of Milan. Monica, her prayers answered, died soon after her son’s Baptism.  The young man whose mother had spent years on her knees in prayer was ordained to the priesthood just 4 years later.  In 396 he was made a Bishop himself and served the Church for 34 years in this role, until his own death.  Monica’s son was a prolific writer and a genius of theology.  He is St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, one of the most important figures in the history of Christianity.  Next Monday, August 27, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St. Monica, his devoted and prayerful mother.  Any mother who has worried and prayed for the soul of her child can identify with the story of St. Monica.  Everything we know about her, we know from the writings of her son.  St. Augustine’s Confessions are a classic of Christian spirituality and a loving tribute to his prayerful mom, who never gave up on her wayward son.  Her prayers, disappointments, and tears were all a means of her growing in closeness to the Savior she loved.  In her heroic efforts for her son’s conversion, she herself became a Saint. And on Tuesday, the Church will celebrate the feast day of her son, St. Augustine, who came to Christ through his mother’s tearful prayers. 
“Nothing is far from God.” —-St. Monica (322-387 A.D.)

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Raul Soto
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 19:01:18

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. May God bless you always.


  2. tiberjudy
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 21:09:04

    Thank you Raul. I’m thankful for your readership and encouragement. I’m blessed to be able to share my thoughts and pray that the Lord uses my words for His glory. Bless you always, my friend.


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