Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mothers go straight to heaven...

Or, so I'm told. The theory is that any woman who has a little Bloke or Sheila to take care of and train up in the way he should go, has got a sure-fire one-way ticket into eternal bliss. Mothers are the ones who best follow the mandate of Christ to "give up one's life" for another. I mean, don't they? Moms rock. I love mine. St. Augustine loved his, too, and she's our saint for the day.

"I think it is only when we are in the next life that children will learn how much their parents prayed and sacrificed for them. One mother who prayed a great deal for one of her children is St Monica, the mother of St Augustine. She lived in Tagaste in North Africa which is called Algeria today. Monica and her husband Patricius had three children, Augustine, Navigius and Perpetua. Navigius was always a good son, and Perpetua became a nun and abbess. But Augustine was different. As a teenager he was influenced by the loose living of his companions. When he was studying in Carthage he decided to take a mistress. Augustine was, as we would say now, such a brat that he even once said to Monica his mother that there would be no problems between them if she gave up her faith! After that Monica was so desperate that she went to a bishop who advised her to be patient. He told her it would be impossible that a son over whom she had shed so many tears would perish and that he would soon return to the faith. From then on she stayed as close as possible to Augustine and she prayed and fasted for his conversion. When Augustine was 29 he moved to Rome to teach rhetoric and then he moved to Milan where he received a position teaching rhetoric. Monica moved to Milan after him. Augustine often heard Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, preaching and this is probably what sowed the seed of faith in his heart. All the prayers of his mother Monica for his conversion were now beginning to be heard after many years of seemingly being unheard. Augustine began to study the New Testament and especially Paul. He was close to being baptised but could not take a decisive step. His soul was crying out for conversion but his body said no! “Lord make me chaste but not yet” describes Augustine at this stage.

The turning point came when one day Augustine read a passage from Rom 13:13-14 “put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” Augustine described in his Confessions telling his mother that his struggle was over. She leaped for joy and understood that God had given Augustine more than she had begged. Augustine was baptised by Bishop Ambrose of Milan and he and Monica decided to return to North Africa. While waiting in Ostia, the port of Rome, to catch a boat back home, Monica said to Augustine, “I have no further delight in anything in this life…There was one thing for which I desired to linger a little while in this life, that I should see you a Catholic Christian before I died…Why am I still here?” Five days later Monica caught a fever and went into a coma and died after nine days. Augustine devotes many passages of his Confessions to his mother and all he owed her. Augustine went on to become a priest at the age of 36 and a bishop at the age of 41 and was Bishop of Hippo in North Africa for 35 years. One example of the influence Augustine has on the Church is that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church there are more quotations from Augustine than from any other writer. And all of this due to the persistent prayer of his mother St Monica."

~From a Homily for the Twentieth Sunday Year A by Fr Tommy Lane, Ireland


  1. Greetings,

    As a praying mom of one Christendom student (a freshman) and another former C'dom student who just transferred to a trade school (a state college, complete with the worst secular environment imaginable), I thank you for your kind words of encouragement about maternal intercession. I needed to hear them today, especially after I and my husband toured that secular campus. It is NOTHING like Christendom - the complete antithesis, believe me. I saw firsthand what life in a Godless institution is like (guys w/ pornographic T-shirts, a Health Office director assuring us parents that our child could obtain birth control if they wanted it, etc.), came home very depressed and immediately ordered my family to start a novena for my son's soul there. I know you all complain about the dress code and other restrictions there, but you have no idea how it grants you dignity and class.

    For my own part, I swam through it myself in the late 70's at a huge upstate NY university. I probably would've chafed under a dress code had there been one, but it wasn't until I matured (esp. spiritually) and came to understand and appreciate modesty as a guarantor of my holy dignity.

    Years ago, when I first became a mother, I read a letter published somewhere from a mother who prayed daily for her wayward son to return to the Church and sacraments. One line burned itself in my memory as especially poignant - that God had given her her son in perfect condition, and she yearned to return him to God in as close as good condition as she could. Isn't that great?

    Anyhoo, I love your blog, and encourage you to keep it up. And thanks, too, for the appreciation of praying-moms-on-their-knees.

  2. I understand where you're coming from; I was a student at a large state university last year, and the sort of environment you describe is exactly like the place I remember. If it makes you feel better, I should say that the experience of such a place can have the effect of making the naive youth aware of what a messed-up, sinful place the "real world" is, where Christian values are excluded and the only rules are libertarianism and libido. I had never really thought much about the problems in the youth culture (I was homeschooled, so I didn't have much experience with it, either), although I was vaguely aware that it had problems; seeing it first hand was quite a shock, and did a lot to help me realize the importance of Christian morality, and the need for us Christians to be a "light in the darkness." It might be that going from Christendom to a state school will be enough of a culture shock to drive this home for him. At any rate, I'll keep you and your son in my prayers.

    I liked this post, too; my own mother is like St. Monica in many respects, not the least of which is her patience and persistence in raising at least one very problematic son. :-)

  3. Wowie. This makes me feel, like, five feet tall! (Which is a big deal, for me.) Thanks.

    Yes, we certainly do complain about the dress code and the rules and everything else. We don't know how good we've got it here at Christendom, or at least most of us don't. It puts me in mind of a line from a book, where a character observes, "The only reason they put such importance into a small thing, is only because there just aren't any big things to worry about." We've got it much better than we deserve.

    Of course, this is not a perfect, problemless bubble. Things happen, things go wrong, people have hard times with difficult issues. But you knew that...what comforts me is that The Best Friend is so very close to me, all the time; every time I look out my window, every time I see that steeple, every time the hour strikes, I remember where my heart should be. God is so cool. Thanks for joining the program.