Behind a great son is a great mother. Where would the eminent St. Augustine be without his affectionate mother, Monica? Women of noble virtues are revered and uphold by the Catholic Church as saints. One such example is Monica, famously known as St. Monica. She is regarded as a woman of worth; a woman of prayers and tears; a lady of grand virtues; a loving and patient wife; and a wonderful mother to three sons. She was born and raised as a devout Catholics in Africa.
Her parents made sure that she would be brought up into a fine and virtuous Catholic.
A kind servant woman was hired by the family to help rear the children in conformity to the Church’s teaching (Buckalew, 2004). Monica grew up as the dignified woman that her parents envisioned her to be. She was gracious and kind; but her heart was not spared of tumultuous circumstances and heart-wrecking events. Monica was given in marriage to Patricius, a pagan man.
Patricius was a landowner and held position as minor Roman official in their town. Exactly the opposite of Monica, Patricius was an arrogant man. He had fidelity issues and became an unfaithful husband.
His temper was said to be volatile and violent; but he never laid his hands on Monica to physically hurt or abuse her. The couple had three children. Augustine was the youngest. Augustine had his share of inflicting wounds to Monica’s heart. However, the heavens opened for her and answered her pleas for her wayward son.
In Praise of Monica’s Virtues Monica, as a wife and mother stood out among the hundreds of thousands of women during her time. Hers is a God-given attitude worthy to be emulated. During the Old Testament time, another woman lived named Rebekah.
She was the wife of Isaac and the daughter of Bethuel. Isaac and Rebekah had two twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Nevertheless, she was not equally revered as Monica. In his work, Confessions, St. Augustine penned a beautiful tribute to his mother in Book IX. Here, he recounted her mother’s character and the unconditional love he received. As a wife, Augustine wrote that “her patience was so great that his infidelity never became a cause of quarrelling between them”. Her character and attitude remain steadfast in the midst of an unhappy and depressing marriage. Her fortitude earned the respect of her husband.
He loved and admired Monica for the kindness and deep understanding that she showered her husband. Monica was submissive and kind as ever. The marriage had Monica struggling with a difficult mother-in-law. Yet through her “dutiful attentions and constant patience and gentleness”, she won both her pagan husband and mother-in-law over and they converted to Christianity. Both women lived harmoniously. When Patrcius died, Monica decided to remain a widow and did not opt for another marriage. On the other hand, information on the role of Rebekah as a wife is scarce or non-existent.
Yet, it can be hinted from the Old Testament that she was not as close to Isaac. Later in life, when Isaac was too blind to recognize his sons, she deceived him in favor of a favorite son. As a mother, Monica clung to her faith so tightly for her son, Augustine. Augustine then was having a scandalous relationship with a woman and embraced the Manichean belief. For seventeen years, as the Catholic Encyclopedia describes it, Monica wrestled with God for her son’s soul. So great was her prayers that Augustine recalled in Confessions that her mother wept more tears for “his spiritual death than mothers shed for the bodily death of a son”.
She even travelled thousand of miles in sought of her prodigal son. Finally, Augustine found the Christian faith and this made Monica so blissful. Monica related to her son that what she wished most was to see him a Catholic and a child of heaven (Cunningham, 2008). Rebekah, too, was a loving mother. However, she played favoritism. She loved Jacob more than Esau, her firstborn twin. This made her tricked Isaac when he was about to release his blessings. It can be remembered that Isaac had his eyes more on Esau. Rebekah sent Jacob away, to her home place, when Esau learned of the deceit and decided to kill his brother.
Meanwhile, Monica, as an ordinary citizen influenced her fellow women through her piety and kind character. She used to be a peace maker where she tried to reconcile quarreling parties or neighbors. She has learned to discipline her tongue. She never took fancy on gossips and tell-tales. Battered and beaten wives found comfort in her advices and solace in her sympathy. However, Monica was never the perfect woman. Like any human, she had her own soft spot. In a book written by Father Giovanni Falbo, Monica during her younger years had a secret; that is, drinking wine in a very clandestine way.
As a young girl, Monica was tasked by her parents to bring wine from the cellar to the table, which was being served for the elders. She was tempted and started to sip wine from the glass; she repeated the offense over and over until she learned of gulping a whole glass prior to delivering the wine to the dinner table. She was caught by a servant who called her as a “wine-swiller”. Monica realized her fault and changed her ways. Conclusion Monica is indeed a saint and Augustine was too blessed for having her as a mother. In this present world, a woman like her is considered as an endangered species and a prized beauty.
Hers is a heart so sincere and loving; so prayerful and hopeful. In fact, Rebekah comes short and fails in comparison to her. But then, it must be put to mind that both are unique individuals who lived in different cultures and periods of time. We all know the famed St. Augustine, Monica’s son. To say that Augustine is her legacy is an understatement. Monica, herself, is the legacy. No wonder, many devout Catholics and women alike admire and love her. Truly, if more Monicas exist today, this world is much of a heaven today.