Often a saint’s memorial in the Church calendar brings lots of diverse thoughts to mind. Today Christianity celebrates the feast of St. Monica whose son, St. Augustine of Hippo, had much more overt influence on Church practice than she did. Monica has special remembrance, however, in the lives of Christian mothers who trust God to hear their prayers for their children. Monica is remembered for her perseverance in prayer and thereby credited in large part with the conversion of her son. Clearly, the story of their lives is more complex than that and other influences on Augustine (e.g. St Ambrose) had a part to play. Nevertheless, Monica has been a friend of mothers down through the ages.
Today, in considering the steadfast care (sometimes seen as somewhat over-enthusiastic) of Monica for her son, I think once again of the words of Teilhard de Chardin who counseled trust in the slow work of God. Monica prayed tirelessly for Augustine’s conversion to a good, faith-filled life and was rewarded just before she died with his baptism as a Christian. Similarly, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in his Letters to a Young Poet about the need to “be patient with all that is unsolved in your life…” and “live the questions now.” Monica certainly needed that kind of advice!
Then there are the two children’s songs that help me by making me smile and hold things more lightly when I think I will never come to the end of a task that seems monumental – like clearing clutter or finishing a book I need to read. When those tasks get in the way of seeing the beauty of life I know I can sing: Inchworm, inchworm, measuring the marigolds, seems to me you’d stop and see how beautiful they are…Or maybe even better: Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow…