“Your son, Augustine, wandered, too…”
Beloved Saint Monica, Mother of the great saint, Augustine of Hippo — Father and Doctor of the Church — had her hands full with her son who was both a brilliant student and something of a youthful hedonist, fathering a child out of wedlock at the age of 19. A Christian woman married to a Pagan, Monica watched her son’s journey and prayed faithfully for his conversion to Christ. For many years, she prayed that Augustine’s heart and mind would finally become open — that he might have an authentic encounter with Christ and thus be re-formed, and re-oriented toward the will of God.
Her faithfulness was gratified, and in one of the most moving portions of Augustine’s Confessions, he related how clearly Monica identified her life’s mission as delivering her children into the life of faith. In Ostia, she said to him in wonder, “Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?” Days later, she fell ill with a fever and told Augustine and his brother to bury her there — to take no concern over her earthly remains, but asking for one favor: “…That you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.”
Saint Monica is the patron saint of people in difficult marriages, difficult children, and the conversion of relatives, particularly one’s own children. She is the consoling friend in heaven who wholly understands the despair of parents who feel helpless and confused as they watch their children drift away from the church. As Monica prayed and fasted for her children to come to know Christ Jesus, she is our powerful companion and intercessor to all who feel confounded by the “journeys” of their sons and daughters.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
under the weight of my heartful burden, I turn to you, dear Saint Monica
and request your assistance and intercession.
From your place in heaven, I beg that you will plead before the Throne of the Holy One,
for the sake of my child, [Name], who has wandered from from the faith, and
all that we have tried to teach.
I know, dear Monica, that our children belong not to us, but to God,
and that God often permits this wandering as part of one’s journey toward Him.
Your son, Augustine, wandered, too; eventually he found the faith, and came to believe,
and in that belief became a true teacher.
Help me, therefore, to have patience, and to believe that all things — even this disappointing movement away from the faith — work ultimately to His own good purposes.
For the sake of my child’s soul, I pray to understand and trust in this.
St. Monica, please teach me to persist in faithful prayer as you did for your son’s sake.
Inspire me to behave in ways that will not further distance my child from Christ, but only draw [Name] gently towards his marvelous light.
Please teach me what you know about this painful mystery of separation,
and how it is reconciled in the re-orientation of our children
O Saint Monica, lover of Christ and His Church,
pray for me, and for my child [Name], that we may acquire heaven,
joining with you, there, in offering constant and thankful
praise to God,