Troubled families today can receive great comfort from the lives of St. Monica and her son St. Augustine, said Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, prior to the Angelus. Sunday was the memorial for St. Monica; today is the memorial for St. Augustine.
Monica (333-387), born of a Christian family, lived her life as a wife and a mother in an exemplary way, helping her husband to discover the beauty of the Christian faith and the strength of Gospel love, said the Pope. After her husband’s death, she dedicated herself even more fully to her three children. Augustine caused her great suffering with his rebellious character.
But Augustine (354-430) would later say that his mother bore him twice. The second time was after a long spiritual labor, consisting of prayers and tears, but in the end filled with the joy of seeing him not only embrace the faith and receive baptism, but dedicate his whole life to the service of Christ, the Pope said.
“How many difficulties are there in families even today and how many mothers are distressed because their children are taking the wrong paths!” the Pope exclaimed. “Monica, a woman who is wise and solid in the faith, invites them not to be discouraged but to persevere in their mission as wives and mothers, maintaining a firm faith in God and holding on to prayer.”
As for Augustine, his whole existence was a passionate search for truth, the Pope continued. In the end, not without a long interior struggle, he discovered in Christ the full and ultimate meaning of his life and of all of human history.
In adolescence, attracted by worldly goods and beauty, his actions were guided by egoism and possessiveness. His actions would cause great pain to his mother. But along his journey, and thanks to the grace of his mother’s prayers, he continued to open himself up more to the fullness of truth and love to the point of conversion, the Pope recounted.
Augustine’s ultimate conversion took place in Milan under the guidance of St. Ambrose, then bishop of the northern Italian city.
Augustine remains today a witness, for all people, of the journey toward God, supreme Truth and Goodness, the Pope stated. “Late have I loved you,” Augustine would write of his love for God in his famous autobiography, The Confessions.
The Pope prayed, “for all the young people who, thirsty for happiness, are seeking it by following the wrong paths and losing themselves in blind alleys,” asking for St. Augustine’s intercession.
The Pope closed by entrusting to Mother Mary all Christian parents so that they, like St. Monica, will accompany their children with good examples and prayers. He also entrusted to her all young people so that they, like Augustine, will journey always toward the fullness of Truth and Love, which is Christ.
“Only Christ can satisfy the profound desires of the human heart,” he concluded.