Ever since college it seems that a group of four women can never get together without someone assigning Sex and the City characters--someone is the self-proclaimed Carrie, everyone is hoping to be considered the Charlotte, the Miranda is definitely in denial... and the Samantha, well, let's just keep her in prayer. Another 90s TV classic that has this effect is Friends. With six such distinct personalities, people love to say they're such-a-this character or such-a-that. You can add "You're such a Monica!" to things no one has ever said about me. Don't get me wrong--my house is clean, I have a hoarder closet, I can be a little neurotic or a touch competitive... but... wait... no, I definitely can't claim anything near her level of scrappiness, OCD, or persistence. Monica Geller's commitment to everything reminds me of our Saint of the Day, St. Monica.
Of Monicas to aspire to St. Monica is the best--St. Augustine's mother is one of my favorite saints of all time. Known especially for her commitment to prayer for the conversion of her wayward son (turned Bishop, Saint, and Doctor of the Church!), St. Monica has a lot to teach us about disappointment, patience, trust, and good intentions. One of the best ways to learn about her life is from the writings of her son who celebrates his feast day tomorrow, August 28th! He writes in this section of the Confessions about his mother's (understandable) concern that once Augustine was out of her sight and influence, his life would be in ruins and his salvation would be impossible. Let's see what Auggie has to say about Mama Mon:
Why I left the one country and went to the other, You knew, O God, but you did not tell either me or my mother. She indeed was in dreadful grief at my going and following me right to the seacoast. There she clung to me passionately, determined that I should either go back home with her or take her to Rome with me, but I deceived her with the pretense that I had a friend whom I did not want to leave until he had sailed off with a fair wind.... She would not return home without me, but I managed with some difficulty to persuade her to spend the night in a place near the ship where there was an oratory in memory of St. Cyprian. That night I stole away without her; she remained praying and weeping. And what she was praying for, O my God, with all those tears but that You should not allow me to sail! But you saw deeper and granted the essential part of her prayer: You did not do what she was at the moment asking, that You might do the thing she was always asking.
And what was it that St. Augustine is talking about here? That fateful trip to Italy is what led to his conversion. It was there he met St. Ambrose... and the rest, as they say, is Church history. However in that moment--Monica was HEARTBROKEN... she "knew best"... and what "was best" in her mind was for Augustine to stay in Carthage with her! How often do we cry, pray, beg, bargain, cry some more to get something from God that we knooooow is the best thing for us. We know that this petition is what is needed to solve all of our problems, our family's problems, the world's problems. If God would just listen to us... ... ... ... .. .
And thank Him, He doesn't!! Our Creator--and not just ours--the Creator of the whole universe--and all of the other universes--etc. knows what is best. And while He may be busy blessing the broken road much to our dismay, His will and His timing are perfect. Our peace and our joy rest in our ability to say YES to whatever that will is. Eeeep.
So let's take a lesson in St. Monica's devotion to prayer... we have to keep praying--even when our prayers, despite being well-intended, are barking up the wrong tree. St. Monica is a Saint after all. And Saints aren't perfect--they are human. Human but heroic in virtue. Our prayers are often imperfect, sometimes a little selfish, often mumbled as we fall asleep, but they are heard. Let's pray for St. Monica's intercession that we can learn patience, we can learn prudence, and we can learn to say at the end of each of them, "Not my will, but Yours."
Let us pray!
St. Monica, God answered your prayers for St. Augustine's conversion... though not necessarily in the speed with which you would have wanted, but with an overabundance of grace and mercy. Teach me to expect God to exceed my expectations. Beg God to give me patience. Beg Him to give me trust. Beg Him for the grace that I may say, "Whatever you want, Lord!" Please intercede on my behalf and for my loved ones that are so far from Jesus... and for my loved ones that are close to Jesus and need some encouragement and some prayers. Teach me to never tire in prayer. Teach me to relent only with my own will. Show me how to love and trust as you did. St. Monica and St. Augustine, Pray for us!