Memorial of Saint Monica
Today is the feast of St. Monica and at Mass we begin reading from St. Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. What Paul tells us here is that God is faithful. And Monica gives witness to the veracity of that statement.
She is always depicted carrying a small flask symbolizing the tears she shed in persevering prayers for the conversion of her errant son, Augustine. Eventually her prayers were heard and St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, became one of the Church’s greatest saints, the man who drew up the blueprint for civil society that lasted almost 1000 years. God is faithful.
Monica and Augustine were natives of the geographical area today’s media happily designates as the world of “The Arab Second Spring”. Nowhere else in history have the diminishing number of Christians been more persecuted than here. So, what must it mean to them that God is faithful? Monica’s flask must be overflowing.
We who have been blessed with so many benefits, who are easily convinced of God’s fidelity, should join persevering prayers with Monica, and add our tears to her flask for our persecuted brothers and sisters in “The Arab Second Spring” nations, in the lands once blessed by the births of Saints Monica and Augustine.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.