The Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah, Morning Prayer for August 27, Memorial of St. Monica, reads:
"You answered her prayer, O Lord, you did not disregard her tears which fell upon the earth wherever she prayed."
As a mom, I want the very best for my kids: academic success, a healthy social life, reasonable financial comfort, good health, professional achievement. While all those things are good, they are not enough. What I desire most for my kids is spiritual success. I want them to be purpose-driven, generous, honest, humble, faith-filled and God-centered. In our modern age, it's easier and definitely more acceptable to achieve financial and professional success than spiritual success.
My husband's and my ability to ensure that our kids put God first in their lives is limited by our human frailty. As much as we try to model a faith-filled life for our kids, we aren't perfect. We know and they know when we fall short of our goal.
I hope our kids see how we persevere in attaining holiness despite ourselves. I would like to think that they see us trying over and over, every day, to live the life of the gospels. I hope they see the virtues of faith, hope and charity in the way we treat them and the way we treat our neighbours.
Teaching by example is a start but it isn't enough. Before we can even hope to live an exemplary life for our kids, we need to pray for it. There's just no way we can be good Christian parents if we don't have the necessary graces from God. Those graces help us to realize that we can't realistically raise our children well without any help.
That's where St. Monica comes in. The long-suffering mother of St. Augustine, Monica prayed unceasingly for the conversion of her rambling husband and her wayward son. She cried so much over the years that St. Ambrose famously said, "woman, the child of so many tears shall never perish."
Monica didn't care what other people thought or how hopeless the situation probably seemed at times. She was a true prayer warrior, a wife and mother on a mission, and there's no force in hell that can deter a mom and wife on the move. The two people she loved the most were on a path to self-destruction at break-neck speed and she was determined to stop them. What a wife! What a mom! What a saint!
It seems to me that if she could do that for the people that she loved more than her own life, she won't mind helping me with the people that I love more than my own life. She has the heart of an supermom and now that she's counted among the greatest of saints, she's everybody's supermom. She wouldn't want anybody's spouse or child to fall away from the Truth.
Thankfully, none of our kids are anything like the young, pre-Christian Augustine. And we want to keep it that way. So we'll keep trying to model a faith-filled life and keep asking St. Monica to help by praying for our kids, and praying for us.
St. Monica, pray for us.
Copyright 2015: Terry McDermott
Image: Painting of Augustine of Hippo and his mother Monica of Hippo by Ary Scheffer (1795 - 1858) Wikimedia.org Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
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