St. Monica: Parents’ Not-So-Little Helper

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.  There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but most importantly, I want my kids 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 personality flaws and 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 uber-mom and now that she’s counted among the greatest of saints, she’s everybody’s uber-mom.  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.

Deo Gratias

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18 Responses to St. Monica: Parents’ Not-So-Little Helper

  1. SR says:

    This post is really awesome, to me one of the best you have done. I loved the way you spoke about the “limitations” of parents, and how we do need help. That was a great way of putting it. That we also need the grace from God to be good parents. This was an excellent job! God Bless, SR

  2. For some unknown reason I haven’t been using recourse to St. Monica for my children, who have both fallen away from the faith after getting out into the godless world we live in. I have been praying to our BVM for their conversion: but I think is time to ask for the intercession of this great Saint of perseverance in prayer. She simply would not take no for an answer. Perseverance is a mother’s trait and between the BVM and Monica maybe I’ll start seeing some movement of the heart as these kids start to get more mature and responsible in their lives.

  3. That was such a good post. I do not have children (as you know), but I know what it is like to worry and care about others and want them to be ok. Just tonight I was sitting in the twilight up on a hill, and I was thinking of those I worry about. It must be an instinct in women or something to worry like that. Sometimes you feel so helpless to help and you think of all the worst things that could happen…St. Monica, yes, good post. I will try to think of her. Hope you had (are having?) a good vacation!

  4. Great post. Hope you enjoyed your vacation.

  5. reinkat says:

    “Monica didn’t care what other people thought or how hopeless the situation probably seemed at times. ” This is the thing about her that gives me so much inspiration and encouragement. That should could continue praying for the wayward Augustine for 30 years, that gives me hope. 🙂
    I am glad to see through this excellent post and many other writings, that I am not the only one. We oughta start a St. Monica Online Prayer Group!

  6. Jade Jarvis says:

    Mothers play tremendous role in nurturing their children through their faith. My mother is responsible for bringing me to the Catholic faith and exposing me to the joys of the Mysteries of the Rosary.

    Children also challenge and expand their parents’ faith. For example, I successfully encouraged my mom to become a devotee of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

    Thank you for this interesting post. May God continue to bless your family with unity, peace and love.

    • I think it’s wonderful that your mom brought you to the Catholic faith and then you encouraged her to pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy. That’s beautiful. Thanks for commenting. God bless you too.

  7. Biltrix says:

    Great post! Many things you said here really caught my attention, especially, “My husband’s and my ability to ensure that our kids put God first in their lives is limited by our personality flaws and 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,” and “Teaching by example is a start but it isn’t enough.” It takes great humility to recognize that.

    There is something to be said for the sacrament of matrimony, though, and the graces God gives through that sacrament. Obviously, you are very mindful of that in this post, since in essence, that is what it is all about. We are a Church militant, triumphant, and suffering. Through the communion of saints we receive the intercession we need and the grace of God to accomplish his particular will for us on earth. Parents who are united to the vine as a family through prayer receive the grace to persevere together. Saints like Monica certainly give us a great testimony of that hope.

    Once again, thanks for the great post! God bless!

  8. Mr. V. says:

    Great post. I pray everyday for my son, that he will not stray from the faith. So far, he’s excited about his faith in God and about the Holy Mother Church in general and I hope it stays that way.

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