St. Monica may have lived in the 4th century, but she can teach us a lot about how to reach souls in the 21st century. St. Monica led her husband, mother-in-law, son (St. Augustine) and most likely many others to the Catholic faith. We can learn a few things from her life that will help us when someone we love has fallen away from the faith.
1. Pray: “God’s time will come. Go now, it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish”. Local Bishop to Saint Monica. St. Monica was steadfast in prayer for her family, but most especially for her son, St. Augustine. She prayed for his conversion for 17 years before he came to know Christ. Though it may seem tedious, do not give up praying for others to know the Lord. This is one prayer God loves to answer.
The St. Monica Novena has been very effective for many families.
Prayer for the Return of Lapsed Catholics to the Sacraments:
Almighty Father, You desire not the death of the sinner, but that he may be converted and live. Pour out upon us Your mercy and hear the prayers of Your servants. Soften the hearts of Your children who have strayed from the true path which You established for their salvation. They are now forgetful of their duties as Catholics, and pursue the pleasures of the world. Grant that they may quickly return to the practice of every Christian virtue, so that their lives may shine with the integrity of faith, the fervor of piety, and the ardor of charity. Restore them all to Your sacraments and the life of Your grace, through the merits of the most precious blood of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Father John Hardon’s Catholic Prayer Book.
2. Sacrifice: Not only did St. Monica pray, but she fasted. This is often a forgotten spiritual discipline in our times. Many Catholics think that fasting is just for the Lenten season, but this is something we can (and should!) do routinely as a form of prayer.
3. Persist: St. Monica did not give up on St. Augustine. She went so far as to follow him from North Africa to Rome just so she could be near him and speak truth into his life. St. Monica was relational in her ministry to her son. She knew that she had to be present to St. Augustine and show him the love of Christ – even when he tried to run from it.
4. Lead by example: St. Monica lived her life in an exemplary way, constantly putting into practice what she preached. St. Augustine spoke of his mother in his book, Confessions, “I will not speak of her gifts, but of thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor her mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of thy Christ, the discipline of thy only Son, that trained her in thy fear, in the house of one of thy faithful ones who was a sound member of thy Church” (IX.8.7).
5. Hope: Though it took many years of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice, St. Monica never gave up on God’s plan for her family. “Nothing is far from God” – St. Monica. She placed her hope in the Lord and did all she could to bring her family into the Kingdom of God. She never forgot that as much as she loved her husband and son, God loved them even more.
Take these lessons from St. Monica and be inspired to continue leading others to Christ. We know that there are so many people in this century trying to fill the void of their hearts with things other than God. Let us remember the words of St. Augustine, “for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You”, as we encourage our friends and family to come to know the joy of the Christian life, the promises of God, and the peace that comes through a relationship with Jesu
This is a video produced by Hope Animation on 21st century evangelism. St. Monica was doing these things long before this video was made!
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