Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Monica. St. Monica a tenacious prayer warrior when it came to her children, particularly Augustine who later became one of the great doctors of the church. She prayed, followed and encouraged him with all of her strength. She never gave up.
Today I suppose we would call such a woman a nag. It certainly isn't the fashion to follow grown children around and encourage them on their Christian walk. But that's what Monica did and it paid off. I take a lot of heart in that. It seems that in our culture the emphasis is on pushing the kids out of the nest as soon as they graduate from high school. We pretend that somehow magically getting that high school diploma or moving to a college campus automatically transforms teens into wise adults who are totally self-sufficient and don't need much from their parents any more (other than regular checks and use of the laundry).
The transition from teen to adult is a tricky one in our culture. It's hard to make that jump gracefully. Even harder for many to make it and keep their Catholic faith intact. And surprisingly for me, it seems to be just as hard if not harder for kids who have been homeschooled most or all of their lives than for kids who attended public or parochial schools. I base that on my own experience with my three oldest sons and with some of the stuff I've been seeing on Facebook the last few years from young people I watched growing up in our Catholic homeschool community is concerning.
In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I am not entirely pleased with the way my oldest adult children are living their lives either. Mr. Pete and I had a lukewarm faith in our early 20s and we had hoped to spare our children from those years in the desert, but it hasn't turned out that way for the first three. We see the desert; they apparently see Vegas.
But it has been more than just kids trying out new things and living contrary to the faith they were given - much of it has been personally very hurtful and I'm sure it must have been for St. Monica as well.
I remember being 18, 19 and 20 years old and although I thought I knew a lot, I realize in retrospect that I didn't know very much. My mom was a very steady presence in my early adult years but even more so in my late 30s and 40s when she helped with the homeschooling, gave her help and opinion on our home school, or even when she just called me everyday to see how I was or to share some chit chat. Dear Lord, how I could really use those calls now.
Sometimes I get chastised myself for being a clingy mom, so it gives me a lot of satisfaction on this feast day to see that the church really does see a place for moms who take that vocation seriously right on up through adulthood, for the sake of the souls of her children. It reiterates that motherhood is a lifelong commitment, one that doesn't end on the 18th or 21st birthday. You're never too old to take advice and love from your mom either! And I am grateful to my own mom who embodied that, although I couldn't always see it at the time.
St. Monica - Catholic Online
Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year
for further reading:
Life of Saint Monica
Saint Monica: C. 332-387 : Model of Christian Mothers
Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda has created these coloring pages: St Monica.
Charlotte also has a link to a tasty Algerian dish to celebrate the feast with!