I like to (affectionately) call St. Monica “Stealth Mom.”
That’s because her devotion to her wayward son – St. Augustine – reminds me of a stealth fighter used by the military. Stealth fighters are jets that are difficult to detect by radar, built for precise targeting, and use laser guided bombs.
Of course, St. Monica didn’t bomb anybody, nor did she fly a military jet. But, she definitely stayed “off the radar” when she followed St. Augustine in the sense that she followed along with him, steady and ever-present. She was built, so to speak, for precise targeting. Her “target” was St. Augustine’s conversion and she “dropped laser guided bombs” with her powerful prayers directly at her son’s sins.
And odd mix of analogies, I know. But bear with me, please.
Another things about stealth fighters is that they don’t give up until the mission has been accomplished. So, too, with St. Monica. While she did exercise tough love on St. Augustine, she never gave up on him for a second until he was finally converted. I expect that she continued her prayers for him long after that as well.
Given that, there are three things you should know and remember about St. Monica.
- She didn’t succumb to, or look the other way from, St. Augustine’s sinful behavior. Instead, she exercised tough love by refusing to let him eat or sleep in her house while he clung to his sinfulness. Sometimes our kids need tough love and we have to be courageous enough to give it to them. That holds true for other wayward “kids” in our lives – spouses, siblings, friends, and others for who we bear responsibility.
- She, prayed, fasted, and sacrificed for her son and let him know that she was praying for him. Even if they repulse your prayers, there will be a time when they come to appreciate them. Don’t be surprised if they turn around and start asking for them!
- She conducted herself with persistence, determination, and hopefulness. She wouldn’t allow herself to get fed up, let up or give up. Instead, she looked up – to the Almighty – and trusted in him to guide and save her son. Day after day, year after year, decade after decade, she persistently, determinedly, and hopefully kept her prayerful and sacrificial vigil.
Can you see now why I like to call St. Monica “Stealth Mom?”
She’s my go-to saint when I have any kind of long-suffering woes, especially if they’re related to my family. I can relate to her, and I know she can relate to me because she has been through so much herself. The same will be true for you.
St. Augustine once quoted his heroic mother as saying,
“For my part, my son, I no longer find pleasure in anything that this life holds. What I am doing here still, or why I am still here, I do not know, for worldly hope has withered away for me. One thing only there was for which I desired to linger in this life: to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. And my God has granted this to me more lavishly than I could have hoped, letting me see even you spurning earthly happiness to be his servant. What am I still doing here?” (St. Augustine, quoting his mother, St. Monica; Confessions; from Office of the Readings for August 27).
St. Monica, thank you for your amazing example of holy persistence, determination, and hopefulness!