Feast Day - May 4
Patroness of Wives and Mothers
Monica was born in 322 into a Christian family in Tagaste, in North Africa. Her parents selected a husband for her, a pagan named Patricius, who was a bad-tempered man and unfaithful to her. To add insult to injury, his mother, who taunted her and told lies about her, lived with them. But Monica ignored the indignities they heaped o her, and practiced good works instead, giving to the poor and helping the sick while still caring for her family.
Monica and Patricius had three children. The eldest son, although a talented scholar, was a source of constant worry for Monica. She prayed constantly that he and her husband would someday join her in worship. Eventually, her faith and kindness were partially rewarded: her husband and his mother converted to Christianity.
But Monica's son seemed hopeless. He ran away form school, returned to the house and insulted Monica. She forced him out, but took him back after a voice told her, "your son is with you," which she thought meant with her in the faith. Still, he strayed. he took a mistress, had a son, and ignored his moth's protests.
She sought the help of her local bishop, who encouraged her, "It is not possible the son of so many tears should perish." Eventually, Monica turned to the Bishop Ambrose in Italy, who brought her son to God by appealing to his intelligence instead of his emotions.
Monica's goal came to pass, in ways even she didn't foresee. Her son became so strongly drawn to the faith that he was eventually canonized - as St. Augustine, one of the church's greatest teachers and philosophers.
Although St. Monica set a good example for Augustine and did everything in her power to ensure he grew to be a good, decent man, she simply couldn't make him behave in a Christian fashion or understand the importance of proper conduct. Many parents today face the very same problem. However despairing she must have felt, Monica never gave up. She realized she couldn't do everything on her own and wasn't afraid to ask others for help, even when it embarrassed her. Families may not have changed much in the last 2,000 years, but help for family problems is much more available.