The Twin Feasts of Saints Monica and Augustine

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Dear Friends of the Augustinians,

This weekend we friars celebrate with the entire Church, the twin feasts of Saints Monica and Augustine, warmly remembered by many as the mother of hope and the son of desire. How fitting that they are commemorated side by side, she today and he tomorrow, for the path to holiness was one they traveled together.

Against formidable odds, Monica was steadfast in raising up one great prayer above all others: for the conversion of her son to life in the Church. All of her entreating, her untold hours in prayer, acts of penance and self-denial which custom had her link to her petition, made of Monica a woman of devotion. This opened a channel of overflowing grace not only for Augustine, but also for herself, such that his waywardness and stubbornness helped to make her a saint, just as her prayerfulness and constancy made one of him. This was Augustine’s own conviction which he recorded years after his mother’s death in the Confessions, “In the flesh she brought me to birth in this world: in her heart she brought me to birth in your eternal light, (O God).” (IX, 8)

Monica’s prayer speaks to us of the power of enduring faith in the face of challenge and disappointment, even at the apparent silence of God over a long period of time. How well she understood and welcomed the invitation of the Gospel “to ask, seek and knock!” How faithfully she followed the counsel “not to grow tired of doing good, trusting that in due time she would reap the harvest, if only she did not give up.”

Augustine shared something of his mother’s insistent nature, though for him, it was notable not in view of faith but in an insatiable search for happiness. This urgent longing took him many places and through a host of experiences, but none of them brought satisfaction until he surrendered himself to Jesus and entered the Church, bringing joy to his mother’s heart and peace to his own.

Hope and desire. Two expressions of Christian virtue; one journey to a richer life. As we honor the memory of Monica and Augustine, and recall the influence for good which each had on the other, let us ask the gift of being channels of grace and blessing to all whom we encounter. We friars remember you, our family and friends, and wish you many blessings.

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Fr. Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A.
Prior Provincial