Friday, August 27, 2010

St. Monica

My sister was named after this patient and persevering woman and I was always a little jealous that my parents bestowed such a beautiful name on her and such a mundane one on me. Now I pray every morning to St. Monica (along with a whole host of other saints) to lead my sister and others back to the Catholic church.

You can tell by my profile that I have not always been a faithful Catholic. And I'm getting a small taste of what my own mother must have endured while I was away from the Church. My oldest, who was baptized in the Catholic church but raised in the Episcopal church, begged me to let her make her First Holy Communion and receive Confirmation when she was in the 8th grade and about to go to high school. Although I still went to the Episcopal church, I supported her decision. The last time she went to Mass of her own volition was in the weeks after 9/11. She likes to go on Christmas Eve and she did go to Mass a few times while in Peru. But she's one of those "free spirits" who dismisses "dogma" and thinks living a good life and treating others kindly is enough. I gently chide her and frequently invite her to Mass but she always has some excuse. Guilt doesn't work. "If I die," I tell her, "I won't be able to get out of Purgatory until you convert." Good luck with that, right?

I have only to think of St. Monica patiently praying for Augustine to become a Christian and I know I have no right to complain. She is a saintly example of what happens when you persevere in prayer. It may have taken a decade or two, but her once rakish son eventually turned to Christ, and all of us are the better for it.

I have prayed for the youngest, that she might have a vocation to the religious life, but last week I had a brainstorm, and I shared it with the oldest. "Maybe you'll shock us all and decide to enter a monastery one day," I told her. "With your physical discipline and ability to live sparsely, you'd have no problem adapting to the physical demands of cloistered life." "Keep dreaming" was her laughing response.

Nope, I'm not dreaming, but I am going to continue to pray every day for her return to the Church. How could I look at the example of St. Monica and attempt to do any less? With God, all things are possible. St. Monica, pray for us and for our wayward children who, like the lost lamb in the parable, we love all the more.

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