Pope Francis has recalled today, August 28, marks the memorial of Saint Augustine of Hippo. He did so toward the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square in his remarks to Italian-speaking pilgrims.
Addressing a special greeting to the young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds, Francis reminded today we celebrate the memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.
“I invite everyone to let themselves be inspired by his holiness and his doctrine,” the Pope urged.
“Together with him,” the Holy Father encouraged, “let’s rediscover the interior way that leads to God and to your neediest neighbor.”
Yesterday, August 27, was the feast day of St. Augustine’s mother, St. Monica.
Born in Tagaste, North Africa, in 322, Monica was raised in a Christian home. The young girl had a difficult life and was forced to marry an adulterous, abusive Roman pagan, with a bad temper. She suffered greatly and prayed for long years for the conversion of her family members. Her patience and kindness were said to have become a source of encouragement to other unhappy housewives. After Monica gave birth to three children, her husband would not allow them to be baptized.
Augustine, her oldest son, was the most wayward of her children and caused her great pain. After praying for his conversion for decades, some of her prayers were eventually answered. When Augustine moved away to Milan, his mother followed and became friends with Milan’s bishop, St. Ambrose, who had a key role in leading Augustine to convert to the Christian faith. Also, shortly before his death, Monica’s husband converted.
Pope Benedict XVI remembered St. Monica on different occasions. For example, during his Angelus address to the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo on her feast day in 2006, Benedict said, “Monica, born in Tagaste, in present-day Algeria (in Souk-Arhas), of a Christian family, lived in an exemplary way her mission of wife and mother, helping her husband Patricius to discover, little by little, the beauty of faith in Christ and the strength of evangelical love, capable of overcoming evil with good.”
As Augustine himself would say later, Benedict stressed, his mother gave him birth twice; the second time required a long spiritual labor, made up of prayer and tears, but crowned in the end by the joy of seeing him not only embrace the faith and receive baptism, but also dedicate himself entirely to the service of Christ.
“How many difficulties there are also today in family relationships and how many mothers are anguished because their children choose mistaken ways!” Pope Benedict observed, noting, “Monica, a wise and solid woman in the faith, invites them not to be discouraged, but to persevere in their mission of wives and mothers, maintaining firm their confidence in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.”
St. Monica is patron of housewives, difficult marriages, alcoholism, mothers, widows, abuse victims, victims of adultery, and disappointing children.
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