Heartbroken by worry for her children, Ivonne J. Hernandez finds comfort in the story of Saint Monica and Saint Augustine.
“Woman, the child of so many tears shall never perish.”
Saint Ambrose spoke these words to a mother begging him to help guide her wayward son. The bishop, realizing the young man was not ready to receive instruction, denied her request but encouraged the woman, whom we now know as Saint Monica, to keep praying for her son.
Saint Monica is the patron saint of alcoholics, conversions, mothers, and wives. Her steadfastness in faith is not only an example for us but a great source of grace.
Monica was no stranger to suffering. Before the seventeen years she spent praying for her son, she had already endured years of praying for the conversion of her husband and her mother-in-law. I wish we had her diary, but we don’t. We know parts of her story from what we read in her son’s diary.
In his Confessions, Saint Augustine of Hippo writes:
You put forth your hand from on high, and you drew my soul out of that pit of darkness, when before you my mother, your faithful servant, wept more for me than mothers weep over their children’s dead bodies. By that spirit of faith which she had from you, she saw my death, and you graciously heard her, O Lord. Graciously you hear her, and you did not despise her tears when they flowed down from her eyes and watered the earth beneath, in whatsoever place she prayed. (Book III, Chapter 11)
From his point of view, he owes his conversion to her prayers. We would not have a Saint Augustine without Saint Monica. But I wonder, would we have a Saint Monica without Augustine? Would we have a Saint Monica without the waywardness of the son?
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
As a mother, I often find comfort in the story of Monica and Augustine. When my heart is broken by worry for my children, I hear God speak to me through the words of Saint Ambrose, reminding me that my tears, though hidden to most, are always seen by God. These tears not only water the ground my children walk on, but they also soften my heart for the work God is doing in my own soul. For the suffering God allows to come our way will always be for good; it will be for the greater glory of God.
Copyright 2023 Ivonne J. Hernandez
This article was first published in the Elisheba Blog. It is published here with permission.
About the Author
Ivonne J. Hernandez is a Catholic wife, mother, writer, and speaker. She pursued a career in Computer Engineering before becoming a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to her three boys. She is a Lay Associate of the Blessed Sacrament, president of Elisheba House (non-profit Catholic media apostolate), and author of The Rosary: Eucharistic Meditations. For more information visit ElishebaHouse.com. Follow Ivonne on Facebook and Instagram.