“Remember me at the altar of the Lord”

Today is the feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, the great and illustrious bishop and doctor of the Church. St. Monica was born a Christian and she married Patricius, a pagan noble, with whom she had three sons. She shed many tears and said many prayers to God for her son Augustine’s conversion, and God answered her prayers. When she was dying, she said to him, “Nothing in this life gives me any more pleasure. I had wanted to live longer in order to see you become a Christian. But now that you have become one, what am I still on this earth for?” These are the words of a Christian mother. In the first reading, St. Paul felt so devoted towards his converts as a mother looks after her children that he was eager to give his whole life for them. This is what St. Monica did – she prayed unceasingly for her family’s conversion and gave her life for them.

True love of family and friends is to bring them to love God. St. Monica was like that. God was always first and foremost in her mind and heart. When one of her sons was concerned about where to bury her after her death, she said, “Bury my body wherever you will, do not be concerned about that. One thing only I ask you (Augustine), that you remember me at the altar of the Lord.” This is what all Christian parents should do – make their children always mindful of their Christian duties, to put God first in their lives. The greatest joy of a parent, teacher, missionary or catechist should be to see their wards becoming dedicated to God and not to something else.