One of the patron saints of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy is St. Augustine of Hippo. He was chosen to be one of our patrons because he was a sinner – a sexual addict, who kept a mistress for about twenty years – who, through the Mercy of God was converted and became a great saint. He dedicated his life to the service of God as a priest, and later as Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. St. Augustine was a prolific writer, and one of the greatest minds in the 2,000 year history of the Church.
But his mother, St. Monica, is also a tremendous saint for all of us today. Monica married at a young age, and was the mother of four children (Augustine was her oldest child). Through her good influence, her husband, Patricius, became a Christian before his death. She also spent twenty years praying earnestly for the conversion of her wayward son, Augustine. There was one point when she asked a certain bishop if he would talk to her son, and he declined. Monica asked him how he could refuse to talk to Augustine: the bishop replied that Augustine was not open to hearing the truth from him at that time, but said that she should keep praying, for “God always hears the tears of a mother.” What a beautiful thought! Not that “God sees the tears,” but “God hears the tears of a mother!” Indeed, He does! And God heard the prayers and tears of Monica, and, through the teaching and preaching and friendship of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, God brought Augustine back to the life of grace!
As we celebrate the feast of St. Monica (August 27th) and that of St. Augustine (August 28th), it is good for us to recall the “Monica(s)” in our own lives – those people who have prayed for us so consistently and earnestly while we were astray, who were the hidden instruments of God’s Grace and Mercy to us. And now that we have been converted to the Lord, are we now playing the role of Monica for those in our families and friends who have taken the role of the spiritually lost Augustine? Are we pounding away, without fail or falter, at the gates of heaven for our lost loved ones? We need to remember that God always answers our prayers – in His own time, which is not ours, but He always answers our prayers, especially our prayers for His Infinite Mercy upon ourselves and our loved ones!