Augustine is one of the most influential Christian writers in the Western Church. Not only do Roman Catholics rely on him heavily, but virtually all Protestants, who rely on reformers like Luther and Calvin who were deeply touched by Augustine. He made an astounding impact.
But his spiritual journey was not a straight line. He left the Christian faith. He got caught up in all sorts of sexual exploits. He joined a cult.
Through all that, there was Monica, his mom.
Here’s a perfect depiction of Monica. It is perfect because she’s praying. And Monica was always praying. She was praying for her wayward son. She was begging God to bring him back into the fold.
Check out some of the words St. Augustine had to say about his mom:
"You sent down your help from above and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son." -Confessions, 3.11
Monica cried out to God time and time again. Her one ambition was to see her son brought back into submission to Christ and to his Church. She tried to get a local minister to meet with him. The pastor would not meet with him, explaining to Monica that Augustine wasn’t ready to repent. He assured her, however, that he once had been involved in the same cult and that Augustine would get out of it. That wasn’t enough for Monica:
"Even after she had heard this my mother still would not be pacified, but persisted all the more with her tears and her entreaties that he should see me and discuss the matter. At last he grew impatient and said, ‘Leave me and go in peace. It cannot be that the son of these tears should be lost.’
In later years, as we talked together, she used to say that she accepted these words as a message from heaven.” -Confessions, 3.12
There was no doubt about it in Augustine’s mind. He was a Christian because of Monica’s prayers. This world-altering theologian was brought to faith through the prayers of his committed mother.
Moms have an incredible role. In the miracle of creation, God uses them to bring new life into the world. It doesn’t end there. God also uses them in the miracle of rebirth. Through their examples, their faith, and their prayers, God brings about re-creation.
Praise God for the faithful example of St. Monica. And praise God for all the mothers who follow in her footsteps, bringing their children to the feet of God in prayer.