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Reflections by Fr Anthony Crook RAN | Friday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time Memorial of St Monica

Link to today’s readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/0827-memorial-monica.cfm

St Monica lived between 332-387c.e., and was the mother St Augustine. While this might sound as if the family home was a garden of saints, such was not the case. Monica’s husband (Patricius) was a pagan with a temper and ‘wandering eye’ (shall we say), and Augustine’s saintliness was only to develop in his more mature years.

As a young man Augustine dabbled with the heresy of Manichaeism, had a mistress, and fathered a child out of wedlock. In his book The Confessions he recounts a prayer he prayed in his younger days: "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet." (Confessions 8.7.17). Poor Monica must have been ready to rip her hair out!

However, a mother’s persistent prayer, petition, and example won through, and Augustine was baptized a Catholic by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan in 387 c.e., and was ordained a priest in 391. Four years later he became Bishop of Hippo. Augustine was to become one of the most prolific thinkers and writers of early Christianity, whose influence is still strongly felt today.  All of this due to the grace of God, and the prayers of a mother.

Today’s Gospel alerts us to the compassion Jesus felt for another mother, one who had lost her only son. Jesus comes to the town of Nain, and happened upon the funeral procession of young man, the only son of his widowed mother. The Gospel tells us ‘When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. “Do not cry” he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, “Young man, I tell you to get up.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

 

Of course, we who know the gospel story in full can imagine in this narrative another widow (Mary) grieving the loss of her only son as he (Jesus) is carried to the grave.

Today, let us be thankful for all people who have been supportive of us as we journey through life. Those people who hold us in their prayers each, and particularly our own mothers – wherever it is in God’s embrace they may presently be.

Imagine downloaded from https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.monasteryicons.com/images/popup/st-monica-icon-439.jpg on 26 August, 2021.