Thursday, August 27, 2009

Memorial of St Monica

"St Monica was born at Tagaste in North Africa, in 332, of Christian parents. Although early instructed in the fear of God and her girlhood was one of singular innocence and piety, yet she was given in marriage to Patritius, a pagan of Tagaste. She obeyed and served him as her master, and labored to gain him to God by her affectionate behavior and holy life. One of the happy fruits Monica reaped from her patience was to see him baptized a year before he died.

They had two sons and one daughter, one son being Augustine, who was born in November, 354. When Augustine was seventeen, his father died. As he grew up his mother endeavored continually to instill into him sentiments of piety. While studying at Carthage he was seduced by the Manicheans and drawn into that heresy. Monica grieved bitterly and prayed incessantly for his conversion. In order to avoid his mother's entreaties, Augustine went to Rome. Upon his arrival he fell dangerously ill, and he attributed his recovery of the prayers of his mother.

From Rome he went to Milan in 384, where he taught rhetoric. While in that city St Ambrose convinced Augustine of the errors of the Manicheans, and he renounced the heresy, but continued to search for the truth. St Monica followed him to Milan, and upon learning that he was no longer a Manichee, she redoubled her tears and prayers to God for his conversion. Her sorrow was turned into joy when Augustine was baptized with some friends of his at Easter, in 387. They set out together for Africa. At Ostia, where they were to embark, St Monica fell ill. Conversing with Augustine one day, she said, "Son, there is nothing now to keep me here; I had but one object in life, and that was to see you a Christian and a Catholic. God has done much more, in that I see you now despising all earthly happiness and entirely devoted to His service."

St Monica suffered much during her last illness. On its ninth day she surrendered her holy soul to God, at the age of fifty-six, in the month of November 387. Her remains were interred at Ostia, but in 1430, they were translated to Rome and placed in the Church of St Augustine."

-- Heavenly Friends: A Saint for Each Day by Rosalie Marie Levy

* Manicheans believed that man has a good soul and a bad soul, and that the material world is evil. They denied original sin, and thus the need for Baptism.

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