Rubric – Saint Augustine speaks to the man of today
3 / Monica and Augustine
“The family is the place where parents become the first teachers of the faith for their children. It is an artisan task, from person to person” (Amoris Laetitia 16)
With these words, Pope Francis exhorts each parent to become aware of the special mission that surrounds their life and of the responsibility before the Lord for a “task” received on the day of the Baptism of their children; an arduous and difficult task, not without any obstacles.
Obstacles that Santa Monica, St. Augustine’s mother, has endured and overcome with determination in the education of her children, with perseverance in prayer and with full trust in the Lord.
This is confirmed by Augustine, who in his Confessions makes a portrait of his mother as an exemplary model to turn to: “Monica was multi-faceted in appearance, virile in faith, vigilant in calmness, maternal in love and Christian in piety”.
Determined to educate her children in faith, she never gave up, “she had raised her children by giving birth to them as many times as she had seen them go away from the Lord” (Conf. IX, 9) resorting to God with constant prayers. And even when Augustine seemed by now lost in his restless wandering, Monica replied to her son with the certainty of her faith: “I believe in Christ that before migrating from this world I will have seen you a convinced Catholic”. (Conf. VI, 1)
Monica was certain that: “it could not happen that the son of so many tears were lost”, as Bishop Ambrogio told her, to whom she had turned to for help. (Conf. III, 12)
Monica’s confidence stemmed from a heart full of trust in the Lord.
The faith that Monica had so much at heart to transmit to her children, was in all that she lived daily, it was enough to look at her: “Monica was assiduous in going to church, practicing alms by taking care of the poor and she had ruled her house with devotion. Living her life in simplicity and the careful attention to small things, she managed to convert her atheist husband; in conversations with her friends she was a good adviser; she also won the aversion of her mother-in-law and she succeeded with respect, persevering in endurance and docility; she had received a great gift from God, that of being able to bring peace where there was dispute.”
“Such was Monica, Augustine confesses, thanks to the instructions he had received from the Lord, his spiritual master.” (Conf. IX, 9)
The strength with which Saint Monica lived her mission to keep her children in faith, a mission that every mother and every parent must have at heart, was the result of a great love for the Lord, a love that Monica poured into everything she did.
Just as the inspirer in the Apostolic Movement has always exhorted (as an example, I am thinking of the splendid text “Mission of a mother”), urging us to live and do everything for love: “Being a mother is a mission, a mission of love. Mom, pray! Everything is prayer, if you do it with love and for love… you will be an instrument of conversion in your mission as a mother. ”