It is without question that a mother’s love shapes her children. How a mother brings up her child will have a profound and long-lasting impact on his or her well-being and perception of the world. Such was the mother’s influence of St. Monica on her son, who once lived a wayward life before being converted to the faith and becoming St. Augustine of Hippo.
Let St. Monica’s virtues inspire you, and teach you how to deal with difficult and stubborn family members and loved ones.
She was prayerful.
St. Monica lived a very pious life and had a great love for God. Her childhood was spent in church. And while Augustine continued to live out his wayward days, St. Monica continued to pray for him and performed acts of charity, which she believed would save Augustine’s soul.
She was patient.
St. Monica patiently waited for her children to come to God. Perhaps because of their father’s strong resistance to Christianity, St. Monica’s children grew away from the faith. But while this situation troubled her, St. Monica’s own devotion to her beliefs never faltered, and not once did she impose them or expressly oppose the less-than-pious lifestyles of her children. She never begged St. Augustine to come back to the faith—in her mind, it was to be of his will. Instead, the pious mom dedicated her life to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
She never let her circumstances get to her.
St. Monica was a devout Christian who married Patricius––a pagan who was known for his violent temper and adulterous ways––through an arranged marriage. St. Monica stood strong for the sake of her family and remained selfless despite her hardships. The good news is that she eventually earned the respect of her husband! And all the while she set a good example for their children.
She stood up for what she believed in.
St. Augustine’s mom may have been a quiet altruist, but this doesn’t mean that she was a pushover. When St. Augustine returned home from Carthage, where he was studying philosophy and science, St. Augustine shared his views about Manichaeism, a dualistic religion he joined. Followers of Manichaeism believed that human actions have no moral significance, and the religion encouraged young Augustine’s immoral and lazy lifestyle. St. Monica, angered at the dissolute life her son had chosen, drove him away from the dinner table and refused him in her home. Despite her overflowing love for her son, she did not condone or enable his unscrupulous ways.
She was humble.
St. Monica showed utmost humility when she asked Bishop Ambrose for advice on how to deal with her son. Impressed with the pious mother’s deep faith, Bishop Ambrose began to praise St. Monica in front of St. Augustine. Through the bishop’s preaching about matters of the faith, St. Augustine saw the heresy of Manichaeism. Soon, mother and son began attending mass together and eventually, St. Augustine converted, attributing the act to his mother, the faithful St. Monica.