It’s not uncommon that many women, particularly mothers, look to Mary as their role model for motherhood. While I love and honor Mary, there are times I have trouble relating to her. After all, in addition to raising God’s own son, Jesus, Mary herself was without sin. When I’m in the midst of household chaos and discipline problems, I have difficulty picturing Mary in the trenches alongside me.
|St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica |
(1855) by Ary Scheffer
Lately, my go to Saint for Modern Mothers is St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, a Bishop and early Dr. of the Church. Raised a devout, pious Catholic woman in Africa during the 3rd century, Monica married a pagan, struggled in her marriage, and raised a son who embraced an immoral, hedonistic lifestyle before dedicating his life to God. I myself married a non-Catholic and am raising strong willed, spirited children with an undetermined future. Through these similarities, I can vividly picture Monica deep in the trenches of everyday life.
St. Monica did not raise the perfect family. Faced with a life full of turmoil and difficulty, she didn’t flee, despair or give up. She persisted in prayer for the conversion of her son, husband, and family. Struggling to do what was best for those around her, Monica modeled the Catholic faith for them by sincerely living it. Through trusting in the will of God she persevered and succeeded as her husband and children each found their path to know and love God during their lives. Her most challenging son, Augustine, eventually repented from his immoral life, received baptism, and dedicated his life to God in such a way that we now know him as St. Augustine.
As modern mothers, we can read about Monica’s frequent prayerful weeping over her son and recognize the emotion. We understand the temptations and distractions offered by society - first to Augustine and now to our own children. How many times do we weep through our prayers for our children and husband? Attempting to do what is right or best for those in our care can weigh heavily, so we cry out to the Lord for help with our faith and family as St. Monica did for hers.
“Monica is a shining example for families today, bringing them courage and hope by guaranteeing that with the grace of God, good will, and perseverance, any difficulty can be overcome in building a true Christian family founding upon the values of the Gospel.” From St. Monica: The Power of a Mother’s Love by Giovanni Falbo
In motherhood St. Monica dedicated herself to constant prayer and devotion for her husband and children to grow closer to God. All mothers share this desire for their children to know and love God. Most of us, like Monica, do not have a smooth path leading to heaven, but one filled with temptation and distraction that threatens our goal of eternal life for our loved ones. St. Monica shows us that through incessant prayer for our families and trust in the Lord, we may through the grace of God achieve success.
These days, when I struggle as a wife and mother, I turn to Jesus through the intercession of St. Monica and pray for the same patience, persistence and dedication to motherhood, marriage, and family that she modeled for us.