Do you remember the parable of the man who had a guest that came at midnight but he didn’t have any bread or drink to give him. So he went to another friend’s door and asked for loaves of bread for his traveling friend. The friend who woke up was irritated and turned him away, but the man was not discouraged (Luke 11:5). Our prayers are like that. Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). He was very persistent. He knew how to persevere, especially when things didn’t look so great.
This reminds me of Saint Monica. She was a mother, and a wife, and she had such faith in God that He moved mountains for her.
She prayed for her husband without stopping
Monica was not in the happiest of marriages. Her husband was a non-believer. He had been unfaithful and unfortunately, she was usually the victim of his rage. When Augustine was gravely ill, she wanted to have him baptized, and her husband had agreed. However, when Augustine showed signs of getting better he quickly removed his consent.
Yet, even though she married a non-believer, she prayed for 30 years for the conversion of her husband. 30 years! Her prayers were answered, and before he died, he converted.
Take away: 30 years is a long time to wait for anything. These days, we want things now. If we need an answer, we Google it. Need a medical answer, we find and contact our doctor at our next visit, or make a visit for consultation. We are so dependent on the here and now, that praying non stop for 30 years for the conversion of a family member seems like a long time.
Monica teaches that even if it’s not happening at the pace that we would like, God doesn’t work on our time, He works on His time. It is us who must learn patience, and continue to pray and ask.
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Doing All She Could; Son Still Strayed
Monica was devout, we can see this, but the faith of the parents does not mean that the children will have to same beliefs. Regardless of watching her son stray from the teachings of his youth and sinking into worldly behavior, she prayed for him.
Augustine became involved in a cult called Manichaeism and she turned him away from her, but eventually reconciled with him.
For 17 years, she prayed, cried, fasted, and lamented for her son’s conversion. She was often consoled by a Bishop saying:
“God’s time will come.” Monica persisted in importuning him, and the bishop uttered the words which have often been quoted: “Go now, I beg you; it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” (source)
God did answer her prayers, and we saw that he did do it on his time but a few things we should take away from this:
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As Married Women, Do We have patience with our spouses?
Saint Monica’s example shows us what an unhappy marriage could look like — one filled with abuse and unfaithfulness. The culture she lived in is much different from ours today, but we can see that she suffered greatly by the hands of her husband. Maybe our marriages don’t look quite like this. Maybe our marriages, we have minor ups and downs. [Just to make it clear: no one is asking women to stay in physically abusive or emotionally abusive relationships. It is important that these women get out of these dangerous situations.]
If we look in our society today, how many people call it a quits because it just go too hard? How many of us are impatient and unkind towards our spouses? Actually, how many of us usually have a kind word to say to those who are not family, but cannot find a kind thing to say to our loved ones?
We learn from Saint Monica’s example that we are to be patient and kind to our family–especially our spouses.
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Watching Our Children Stray
The faith that we carried in our hearts, while it burns brightly, doesn’t mean that our children’s faith will be stronger or just as strong as ours. Do we have the strength to preserve if we see our children stray?
I’m not there in my life yet, my children are still very young, but I’ve seen the struggles that older parents go through. The doubt sets in that maybe they weren’t a good example, that maybe they failed their kids. All of these things are not true, but when you see that you did everything you can do, we cannot help but wonder: what happened?
Saint Monica suffered from this, and Augustine was the son that caused her the most grief. But those tears are not wasted, and God sees our sorrow, and puts that pain to use.
She lived to see her son baptized and turn away from his ways. Now he too is a Saint and a Doctor of the Church! A Doctor of Grace! How amazing is that.
Let us learn from Saint Monica the patience she had with her son and her husband Let us pray, that as we continue to live our vocation as mothers, let us remember that we have saintly women who have gone through it all, that we can look to for guidance.
Do you have the strength to preserve when you see your children stray?
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Post originally published May 11, 2015. Edited April 2, 2017