On Monday, May 4, the Anglican Church, along with the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheranism, celebrated the life of St. Monnica, mother of Augustine of Hippo. History reveals (mostly from the writings of her son in his Confessions that she was a godly and virtuous woman who endured the violent moods and infidelities of her pagan husband, the contention of her mother-in-law who lived with she and her husband, and three unruly boys.
Her oldest son, Augustine, was the most famous of the her three boys. Through his teenage years, he caused his mother much grief by running with various street gangs, involved in thievery and debauchery, living a lewd and immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her that Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him.
Augustine was a brilliant man, learned in the art of rhetoric, and was led, through his travels and studies, to Milan where he met the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, he instructed him in the Christian faith. Monnica followed Augustine to Milan and to her great joy, and through her prayers for him, witnessed his baptism by Ambrose on Easter Eve in 387. After his baptism, Augustine and his younger brother, along with Monnica planned to return to Africa together, but in Ostia, the port city of Rome, she became ill and died. She told her sons, “You will bury your mother here. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord. Do not fret because I am buried far from our home in Africa. Nothing is far from God, and I have no fear that he will not know where to find me, when he comes to raise me to life at the end of the world.”
This Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day. I will remember my own mother who devoted herself to the Lord’s work and sought him with many tears that her son would follow the Lord all the days of his life. I thank God for a godly mother who never wavered in her faith that God would answer her prayers.
O Lord, who through spiritual discipline strengthened your servant Monnica to persevere in offering her love and prayers and tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine their son: Deepen our devotion, we pray, and use us in accordance with your will to bring others, even our own kindred, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.