Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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, or worse. 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, although I think maybe those bright lights may be starting to dim a bit.
This year I've been praying the St. Monica novena in preparation for her feast day. I've prayed that my oldest children find their way back into the church and don't stray to far from her. I was heartened that they all made it a priority to be there for the baby's baptism on Sunday. It was a baby step for sure, but then it did take St. Monica years and years to get results too! So I'm encouraged.
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.
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. In fact, I remember reading that studies have shown that a woman will carry cells in her body left over from each of her pregnancies for most of her life - maybe all her life. Biologically at even the cellular level, the children are always part of the mother.
So now I understand why mom kept checking in on me, even in my 30s and 40s. And I totally understand and appreciate that even when she was dying she wanted me to know how much she loved me - and we told each other that over and over and over again in the week before her death. I think mom knew that I might have regrets later and that was her way of reaffirming to me that to her that didn't matter - it was the love she wanted me to keep!
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- St. Monica
for further reading:
Life of Saint Monica
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!