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The Christophers: A Mother’s Enduring Faith



Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,

The Christophers’ Board of Directors

 

In Chapter VIII of his Confessions, Saint Augustine writes, “For Thou, O our God, shalt lighten our darkness: from Thee riseth our garment of light; and then shall our darkness be as the noon day.” This sentiment reveals Augustine’s journey from spiritual desolation to his discovery that fulfillment is only found in pursuit of a relationship with God.

In his Confessions, Saint Augustine describes losing his way many times and for long periods throughout his life, but his story also demonstrates how God pursued a relationship with him and continually invited him to walk in the light of Christ. One of the greatest gifts God placed in Augustine’s life was Saint Monica, his mother, a devout Christian who became a saint through the practice of an abiding faith.

While Augustine strayed from the faith often in his youth and well into adulthood, Monica remained steadfast in her loyalty to God and continually invited her son and her husband, who was a pagan, to discover the joy of sacrificial love. Saint Monica epitomized The Christophers’ motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” because she never gave up hope and always chose to believe her loved ones could find their way.

Monica’s influence on Augustine, who became one of the greatest saints in Church history, and on her husband, who converted to Christianity on his deathbed, demonstrates the power of faith to transform the lives of those around us. The Christophers’ recent prayer card captures this profound sentiment that faith can guide us to God and help us lead others along their own path to Christ. Our Faith Prayer Card articulates the language of the heart reaching out to God, and this was the type of faith Monica practiced as she continually spoke to God, in fervent prayer for the spiritual well-being of those she loved.

In the opening of his Confessions, Augustine writes, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” These are the words of a man who had searched the world for happiness and found that only God could lead us to true and lasting joy. Imagine what a sense of reward his mother must have felt to know her son had come home to the faith. She lived to see him baptized by none other than Saint Ambrose, who had adopted Augustine as a spiritual son after the death of his father.

Monica died in the same year Augustine was baptized, living to see the conversion of the two men she loved most in the world. What a triumph this was for her life of prayer and her patience in waiting on God to mold the hearts of those for whom she prayed.

The story of Monica and Augustine demonstrates that faith and patience go hand in hand, because it is only in patience that we demonstrate our faith. We must have the courage to believe in God even when things don’t work out exactly as we want. Faith is about knowing that God is at work in the world and is constantly guiding events to bring about the greater good. Only when we have that kind of faith can we focus on all we are called to do to play our part in God’s plan of love for humanity. And when we exercise that kind of faith, we exercise the virtues that animated Saint Monica and her beloved son Saint Augustine.

 

For a free copy of The Christophers’ FAITH PRAYER CARD, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org





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