May 9, 2016
Yesterday I walked past a liquor shop. The sign outside said: “Buy your mother a bottle of wine for Mother’s Day. You’re probably the reason she drinks.” I peered through the window. The shop was doing a nice business.
On Mother’s Day and all throughout the month of May, we think of our mothers and, of course, the Blessed Mother. However, as I looked at that sign yesterday, I thought of another famous mother whose son nearly drove her over the edge: St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. For many years, her feast day was in May. Now it is observed on Aug. 27, the day before her son’s feast.
In his famous
Confessions, Augustine wrote of his treatment of her. In his time, people were not baptized until adulthood. Augustine, who was quite taken with himself, would not receive the sacrament. He wrote off his mother’s Christian beliefs as childish, naïve and superstitious. He was an intellectual snob and led a fairly licentious life.
Monica endured his condescending attitude and his behavior, although Augustine did once anger her enough to be shown the door of his family home. But of course, she forgave him. After the death of his father, whose superior attitude he had inherited, Augustine sailed off from home in North Africa to Italy, leaving Monica behind. She almost caught up with him in Rome, but he had already left for Milan. Undaunted, she located him there, continuing to plead and pray for him to be baptized. As he tells us so dramatically in the
Confessions, Augustine became a Christian and they reconciled, this time for good.
Now, I doubt that many of us would have gone to the lengths that Augustine did to escape his mother. However, we are all guilty at one time or another of thinking ourselves superior to our mothers, whether by education or economics or experience. We do sometimes become impatient with motherly advice, especially when Mom is right. In most cases, however, we do come around to appreciate that our mothers are the driving and loving forces behind our successes. That’s why every day should be Mother’s Day and all mothers should know they have a sympathetic friend in Monica.