St. Monica was born in 333 AD in the city of Tagaste, North Africa, located in present-day Algeria. She inspires me, gives me hope. I ask her to pray with me. Born into a Christian family, she was nonetheless given in marriage to a local pagan man. Her new husband was domineering and critical, cheated on her, and had a violent temper. Monica had 3 children who survived infancy. She never lost her faith, and prayed steadily and devotedly for all of her family. Her husband and 2 younger children were converted and baptized by the time she was 37 years old. But not the eldest. He continued to live a wild, promiscuous life, and Monica worried a great deal about him. She fasted and prayed. She left her hometown when he did, following him, nagging him, seeking help and guidance from bishops in each city they travelled through. She prayed constantly for his conversion. It took 17 more years, but she never lost hope, never ceased her prayers. Her son Augustine was finally baptized in 387. She died shortly thereafter, rejoicing that her son had turned to God. He became one of the most influential people in church history, and one of the greatest saints.
What does this woman who died 1,700 years ago have in common with me? My son, too, has turned away from the church. I pray daily that he will return to the Lord. It is hard to keep going sometimes–now over a decade of this prayer–to have faith that it will make a difference. St. Monica reminds me that prayer does work, even when there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of change. God will answer in His own time and in ways that cannot be predicted. And so I pray:
St. Monica, I ask you to pray with me for my son, that he may be close to God and filled with the peace of Jesus Christ. I also ask that you pray for me, that I might have the faith, patience, and perseverance to continue to support my child with prayer throughout his life.