Today is the Memorial for St Monica, mother of Augustine. She wept and prayed for her son's conversion. And, of course, her prayers were answered in abundance.
She reminds of my own mom. We all idolize our own mothers. However, like St Augustine, many sons often leave their mothers on the pier crying while we sail off into life's adventure. Sometimes we don't even leave a forwarding address. Only much later do we realize how well our spiritual garden was watered by their tears.
So it was with me.
Twenty years ago this week I arrived home in Texas fresh from Clinical Pastoral Education at Ebenezer Society in Minneapolis. After an absence of years, both physical and emotional, I was excited to share with my mother some of the insights from my CPE experience.
Little did I know that this sharing was to be our last.
Early one morning, I took off to return to Minneapolis for Fall seminary classes before Labor Day weekend. The following Tuesday, September 8th, I got a call from my dad while at work in the Luther Seminary Library. My mom had died of a sudden heart attack at home in her favorite easy chair while my father was 70 miles away at his office.
I barely remember the hundreds of people in two memorial services which followed my hasty return to Texas a few days later. But person after person shared their own stories of how much my mother's life had affected them. Yet, until the last possible moment, I myself had ignored my mother and her loving prayers and attitude.
Now her prayers mean more to me.
Now I ache to see her again, even 20 years later.
Now I look forward to seeing her again, where in heaven we'll share
in the fullness of the Eucharistic faith which I came only later to embrace.
Augustine records in his Confessions his own experience of own mother's passing with great pathos. It is an understanding which now he and I share together.
To Augustine and his brother, Monica says ...
"Bring my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be."
At the Lord's Table is where I feel closest to my mom now. It is where my memories of her are most vivid. It is from that platform that I hope to launch into an eternity of praising God with her in company of the other saints and all the angels.
Here's a daily novena prayer, asking Monica's intercession on behalf of children. It was given to me by a dear friend, a long-suffering mom with children in various stages of way-wardness.
Don't ever give up, moms. If prayer worked on me, it certainly can work on your own sons and daughters.
Dear Saint Monica, once the sorrowing mother of a wayward son,
be pleased to present our petition to the Lord God of heaven and earth.
(Pause to mention intentions in silence).
Look down upon our anxieties and needs,
and intercede for us, as you did so fervently for Augustine, your firstborn.
We have full confidence that your prayers
will gain favorable hearing in heaven.
Mother of a sinner-turned-saint,
obtain for us patience, perseverance, and total trust in God’s perfect timing.
In His appointed hour, in His merciful way,
may He respond to your prayers and ours,
which we offer through you. Amen