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Saturday, April 12, 2014

From Sinner to Saint - Saint Augustine (How to Help God Change your Husband/Son Through Prayer and a Godly Life) PART 2

In my previous post, I shared about Sam Childers, the Machine Gun Preacher's conversion from grave sinner (drug dealer, drug addict, violent man, adulterous husband) to preacher and savior of the Sudanese children (from abduction, rape, slavery and a life of crime in the hands of LRA leader Joseph Kony). 

This change of heart was brought about by the unceasing prayers of his wife Lynn, who was herself a former sinner, (a stripper whom he met in one of his drug deals) and his godly mother whose name was not disclosed, who never tired of praying for him because somebody prophesied to her way before he was born, that she would bear herself a preacher. The Lord did convict and convert Sam Childers in 1992, after years of crime and unbridled lust, and he has never stopped serving the Lord (and not anymore some drug lord) since then.

Today, I will share with you about how the godly life of one wife/mother was able to save both her husband and son, from their lives of sinfulness and godlessness. 

* * *

For centuries, Saint Monica was revered in the Roman Catholic Church as the patroness of married women. It is time that "modern"women" became more closely acquainted with this this exemplary woman, whose prayers are especially to be invoked by those with wayward children and by wives who desire to sanctify their unbelieving husbands. Such was her unceasing prayers that she was able to help convert her son from a grave sinner to a great saint.  Her son is none other than one of the greatest figures in the history of the Church, 
Saint Augustine.


(Saint Monica) 


(Patricius of Thagaste- HUSBAND and Augustine- SON)



- was a pagan, did not follow any religion
- was violent and loose-living
- had a choleric temper and dissolute morals
was annoyed by  Monica's prayers
 - found Monica's charity excessive
 - could not understand Monica's desire to visit the sick
 - could not fathom Monica's love for slaves 
- defiled their marriage bed by sleeping with other women


- Prayer was her strength. 

- She bore her cross with remarkable fortitude and spiritual maturity despite the age difference (She was only 22; Patricius twice her age).

- She realized that her husband's weaknesses and moral failings stemmed from the fact that he had not yet been enlightened by the Gospel, that he lacked the grace of God.

She shed bitter tears in his absence, but she knew that a man who did not love God could not be expected to be constant in his affection towards one of His creatures. 

- With firm hope, she prayed that God Himself would grant her husband faith and love for Him, which alone are able to inspire a man with the desire to lead a chaste life.

- Monica knew that reproaches were counter-productive, and she tamed her husband's violent temper by her meekness and devotion.

- Other women, who endured blows from their husbands, asked Monica how it was that Patricius, whom they knew to be irascible, did not once strike her. 

-Monica replied that instead of blaming their husbands they should blame their tongues, for "she had learnt not to resist an angry husband, not in deed only, but not even in word."

This gentle manner, this talisman, consisting of silence and abnegation, were recommended by her to all her friends. When, with faces disfigured by their young husbands' ill-treatment, they came to confide their troubles to her keeping, she smilingly replied, " Beware of your tongue " and they felt she was right, for though her husband was the most violent-tempered man, 
he never struck her.  He might start with rage, and threaten her, but he never did more, for her gentle gaze always restrained him. 

- Regardless of Patricius' religious indifference and often unchristian behavior, Monica was very attentive towards him, "whom she, the better obeyed, therein also obeying [God] Who hast so commanded". 

- Compelled at times to contradict him and to go against his will in what concerned the Faith, she was all the more meek and submissive to him in other matters. 

- Although superior to her husband in education and moral qualities, she made every effort not to reveal her advantage. 

- She firmly believed that if the light of the Gospel was reflected in all her actions, then Patricius would eventually be persuaded of its power and its truth, and would submit to it more readily than if she attempted to persuade him with rational arguments

- Indeed, her Christian conduct acted like a soothing balm on Patricius' soul, and, without his realizing it, drew him gradually closer to the Faith. 

- As Saint John Chrysostom wrote half a century later in his homily, On Virginity, the believing wife "will be able to save her husband by putting the Gospel into practice."       This is precisely what Saint Monica did, winning over not only her husband but also her cantankerous mother-in-law.


After 16 years!!!


- Patricius was baptized after 16 years!  
- He died shortly after, just a year after his conversion in 371. 

Her aim to sanctify her husband for eternal life was achieved by the Grace of God. 




-As Patricius was dying, his eldest son, Augustine, was seventeen years old. In spite of all the efforts of Monica to provide a good Christian foundation to Augustine's life, he lapsed.

- It is a strange paradox that as Patricius began to embrace the Christian faith, Augustine was still rejecting it.

- To her distress, however, she witnessed the rejection by Augustine of all that she held dear.  The distress of Monica was aggravated by the cynical attitude of Augustine towards her advice.

- Augustine engaged himself in a number of illicit affairs

 "I went to Carthage, where I found myself in the midst of a hissing cauldron of lasciviousness. I ran wild with lust, the abominable things I did: rank depravity, a surfeit of hell’s pleasures. Bodily desire like a bubbling swamp and virile sex welling up within me exuded mists…"

- Augustine continued to wrestle with his problem. In despair he would even occasionally turn to God, imploring him in touching fashion,
‘Lord, give me chastity – but not yet.’ 

He didn’t want God to ‘cure me too soon of the disease of lust, which I wanted satisfied, not quelled’. 

- had a concubine for 15 years and had a son from that affair

- In his own words,  He "ran wild in the jungle of erotic adventures...
and became putrid in [God's] sight."


- Monica was very distressed with her errant son, Augustine.

-  Only a memorable dream altered her decision. In this dream, she saw a radiant being approach her as she lamented the spiritual ruin of her son. 

- The angel bade her to be consoled, for where she was, there too her son should be

Augustine suggested that this might indicate that his mother's belief might end. But she instantly rejoined that the words were not "Where he is, there you shall be."

- About the same time, she received consolation from a bishop. He was wearied with her entreaties that he should reason with Augustine on her behalf.  Finally he told her, "Go, I beg you. The son of so many tears cannot perish." 

- Eventually Augustine returned to his faith and with the help of Ambrose became one of the greatest figures in the history of the Church.

- In his ConfessionsAugustine acknowledged that without the example and continual prayers of his mother he would have been lost.

- At Ostia in November 387, after the prayer experience of joy and happiness of Augustine and herself had passed, Monica became silent.

- Almost as if a premonition of her death, Monica however later turned to her son and said, "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world... I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced happiness here on earth to be his servant. So what am I doing here?" 
About five days later she was taken ill by fever - possibly malaria. She died shortly after.


After 17 years!!!

- Augustine wrote about her death in his Confessions, not only as one more demonstration of his conviction of the providence of God towards him through Monica but also as a sign of appreciation to her for the years of anxiety that by then he realized that he had caused her.

- In Book Nine of the Confessions, Augustine described Monica as "female in gender, with the faith of a man, with the serenity of great age, the love of a mother, and the spirit of a Christian."

- He later looked back at his rejection of her attempts to instruct him according to the ways of virtue: "[Her] words seemed to be only a woman's. But they were your warnings.... I ran with such great blindness that I feared to be without sin in my circle of friends." (Confessions 2, 3, 7). Sometimes very willfully, Augustine rejected her virtuous formation and chose to join a group of companions centered on "debased acts." 


- One day, Augustine heard about two men who had suddenly been converted on reading the life of St. Antony, and he felt terribly ashamed of himself. "What are we doing?" he cried to his friend Alipius. "Unlearned people are takingHeaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!"
- Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine flung himself out into the garden and cried out to God, "How long more, O Lord? Why does not this hour put an end to my sins?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!"
Thinking that God intended him to hear those words, he picked up the book of the Letters of St. Paul, and read the first passage his gaze fell on: 

Romans 13:13-14

13 "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh."

-  That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life...

- He was baptized, became a priest, a bishop, a famous Catholic writer, Founder of religious priests, and one of the greatest saints that ever lived. 
- He became very devout and charitable, too. On the wall of his room he had the following sentence written in large letters:
"Here we do not speak evil of anyone." 

- St. Augustine overcame strong heresies, practiced great poverty and supported the poor, preached very often and prayed with great fervor right up until his death. 
- "Too late have I loved You!", he once cried to God, but with his holy life he certainly made up for the sins he committed before his conversion. 


Saint Monica's prayers as a godly wife and mother were answered by the Lord in her lifetime. No matter that it took nearly two decades of nonstop praying before they were answered! If 16 years or 17 years of unceasing prayers seem too long to us, (Mamumuti na yata mata natin 'nun kakahintay!) take heed, don't lose hope, that is but a moment, in view of eternity. :)

One woman was able to make a difference. She never ceased hoping. She never ceased praying. She was forever steadfast in her faith in God.

... And God rewarded her greatly! :)

This saintly woman was able to help turn her very sinful husband into a believer and her very sinful son into a saint, because of her complete faith and trust in God! And she helped produce not just any saint, but one of the greatest saints who have ever lived on earth! 

So, how do we help God change the hearts of our husbands, children, siblings, co-workers, neighbors, or whoever it may be whom we want to bring to Christ?


As wives who want to bring our husbands closer to God, we can win them over without words, simply by praying, submitting to them, and living godly lives.

                                             1 Peter 3:1-5

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands...

_______________________________________________________________________________                   POST SCRIPT

My sister, Erica
The idea of this post came from my sister Erica who sent me a link on Saint Monica. Thanks Ek!:)

Here are the links that proved helpful and insightful to the lives of Saints Monica and Augustine:

May we all be richly blessed! :)

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