In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
OPENING PRAYER TO SAINTS MONICA AND AUGUSTINE
(For the conversion and sanctification of ourselves and our loved ones)
Lord our God, ever merciful to all who hope in you, you adorned your servant Monica with the priceless gift of reconciling her husband and children to you; you listened to her fervent and continuous prayers calling Saint Augustine from the ways of error to serve you in holiness, making of him a sign in the world of the power of the grace of Christ and of the intercession of the saints on our behalf; renew, O Lord, in your Church and in our hearts the spirit you gave to Saint Augustine and Saint Monica; grant that in our thirst for true wisdom we and our loved ones may never cease to search for you, and may our hearts rest united in you, the living fountain of unending love. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
A SHORT MEDITATION ON THE LIVES OF SAINTS MONICA AND AUGUSTINE
(PART 7: ST. AUGUSTINE)
Augustine the Bishop
With his talents and enthusiasm, Augustine was asked to be a bishop. Valerius was the predecessor of Augustine as Bishop of Hippo. He saw Augustine as his potential successor probably from the moment he first met him. He hurried the appointment of Augustine as a bishop for the Church in Hippo for fear that he might be called to fill a vacancy elsewhere. This fear of Valerius had some foundation, because by now the high reputation of Augustine was known around Roman North Africa. And so by careful scheming, Valerius obtained privately the consent of Saint Aurelius, who was Archbishop of Carthage and the Primate of North Africa, to make Augustine his Coadjutor (“helper”) Bishop. For this step Valerius also won the approval of the local Catholic people, and the agreement of the adjacent bishops in his province of Numidia. Having a coadjutor (assistant) bishop was actually a violation of the eighth canon of the Council of Nicea, which in its last clause forbade “two bishops in one city.” Even so Valerius, aged and dying, persuaded his fellow bishops to grant his request.
Augustine himself had strenuously opposed becoming a bishop, as he correctly sensed that it would draw him away even further from his desire to live a community life and have time for study of the Gospel. But he finally consented in the year 395. A last-minute difficulty arose when Megalius of Caloama, the senior bishop and primate of Numidia in which Hippo was located, announced that he could not make Augustine a bishop. Megalius had received a rumour that Augustine had given a woman a “love potion,” and had “seduced” her. It turned out that the love potion was actually an eulogian – a blessed object. To his credit, Megalius apologised to Augustine for his mistake and then went ahead with the ceremony of ordination. Augustine was made a bishop in December 395 at the hands of Megalius, Primate of Numidia, at the age of forty-two years. The aged and delighted Valerius increasingly handed to Augustine more and more of his responsibilities at Hippo
Feeling constrained to move to the bishop’s house so as not to disturb the peace of the monastic community, Augustine wrote his Rule for its continued direction, and then established yet a third community for clerics in his new episcopal residence. Thus from the time of his return to Thagaste until his death, Augustine resolutely opted for a monastic style of life in community.
As bishop, Augustine found his desired life of contemplation and separation from worldly concerns necessarily influenced and refashioned by his many obligations as leader of the local Church and as a civil official, which the office of bishop at the time included. In addition to his pastoral duties within Hippo, he traveled to church councils in the region of North Africa – forty to fifty times over the course of the 35 years he served as bishop. He made the nine-day journey to Carthage, the metropolitan see, for meetings with other bishops some thirty times. But even these extensive travels, which Augustine always found to be a hardship physically, were modest in comparison with the great output of writings and sermons which he produced: over two hundred books and nearly a thousand sermons, letters and other works.
For Augustine, being a bishop was a charge to be accepted as a manifestation of his love for Christ. This love was to be humble (because he realized that the basis of salvation was not in his being a bishop but in his being a Christian), disinterested (because he must feed Christ’s flock as Christ’s, and not as his own, and because he must promote God’s glory and lordship, and not his own), and generous (because it must be stronger than death).
As a bishop in Hippo, a town in which he had not previously lived, Augustine began with little influence in public life, and the schismatic leaders of the Donatists were well established and influential there. It is known that, at first, he was kept waiting when he visited the governor. Eventually, it was in his role as a magistrate and arbiter of civil disputes that he first won people over.
Although a priest and bishop, he knew how to combine the practices of the religious life with the many and varied duties of his office. His episcopal house in Hippo was for himself and some of his clergy a monastery. He was fond of quoting Isaiah: “Do not put your hopes in a human being.” He never lost sight of the fact that neither he nor any other person has ever been worthy of the grace of God. He avoided the prestige which many of his brother bishops accepted as their due. In fact, he was more weighed down by his sense of accountability than by any gifts and possessions.
On an anniversary of his episcopal ordination, he once preached, “I am fearful of what I am for you, but I draw strength from what I am with you. For you, I am a bishop, and with you, I am a Christian. The former designates an office received, the latter the foundation of salvation.” At another anniversary of his episcopal ordination, he preached, “Help me by your prayers and your obedience to carry out these many serious and varied duties. Then I shall have the joy of not so much ruling you as of being useful to you.” (Sermon 350, 1)
In the office of bishop, he placed importance on being included in the prayers of his people. In Letter 48, 1, he wrote, “We beg you to remember us in your prayers, for we believe that you pray very alertly and attentively, whereas our own prayers are weighted down and weakened by the darkness that secular involvement brings with it. We are beset by so many problems that we can hardly breathe. And yet we are sure that if we persevere in the ministry in which God has designed to place us while promising his rewards, He in whose sight the groans of prisoners rise up will set us free of every care through the help of your prayers.”
He did not hesitate to reveal that the office of bishop was certainly not the first choice he would have made for a lifestyle. In Sermon 339, he said, “No one would like more than I the steady, tranquil repose of contemplation. Nothing could be better, nothing sweeter, than the study of the divine treasure far away from the noise of the world. Such study is sweet and good. On the other hand, preaching, reprimanding, correcting, building up and attending to the needs of others is a great burden, a great responsibility, and a great weariness. Who would not wish to avoid such a burden? But the Gospel affrights me [in Latin: terret me evangelium].” (To be continued…)
Silent Prayer and Reflection…
EVERYDAY PRAYER TO SAINTS MONICA AND AUGUSTINE
Dear Saint Monica, troubled wife and mother, you endured many sorrows, difficulties, and humiliations. However, you never despaired or lost faith. Grant me that same fortitude, patience, and trust in the Lord.
Today we pray for those who are resisting Your call due to pressures from friends and family members. May the Holy Spirit give them strength in their convictions and may the Holy Spirit fill the hearts of their friends and family with love and support.
Dear St Monica, troubled wife, and mother, many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime. Yet you never despaired or lost faith. With confidence, persistence, and profound faith, you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius, and your beloved son, Augustine. Grant me that same fortitude, patience, and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for (mention your petition here).
And grant me the grace to accept his will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
O holy Saint Augustine, who has famously declared that “Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.”, aid me in my own search for our Lord that through your intercession I may be granted the wisdom to determine the purpose God has planned for me. Pray that I be blessed with the courage to follow God’s will even at times when I do not understand. Ask our Lord to lead me to a life worthy of His love, that I may one day share the riches of His kingdom. Petition our Lord and Savior to ease the burden of my problems and grant my special intention, and I will honor you all of my days.
Beloved Saint Augustine the miracles you have performed for the greater glory of God have caused people to seek your intercession for their most pressing concerns. Hear my cries as I invoke your name to petition God for an increased faith and to aid me in my present distress. (State the nature of your problem or the special favour you seek)
Glorious Saint Augustine I boldly ask for your intercession confident in your boundless wisdom and compassion. May this devotion lead me to a life dedicated to fulfilling the will of God that I may one day be deemed worthy of sharing His Kingdom with you and all the saints for all eternity.
- Lord, you gave Saint Monica the strength to overcome the difficulties of her marriage, help all spouses who experience trouble in their marriage to be a consolation to one another.
- Lord, you comforted Saint Monica in her prayer for the conversion of her son, help us not to despair in times of trial, and to place all our hope in you.
- Lord, you granted Saint Monica the grace of bringing her husband and her son to you, may all wives and mothers be instruments of your love in their families, so that they know how to lead their husbands and children to you.
- Lord, through a true conversion of heart you led Saint Augustine out of the depths of sin to your love, come to our heart, so that we will forget our sins and we will be embraced by you, our one and only good.
- Lord, you inflamed the hearts of Saint Monica and her son Saint Augustine so that they would aspire to heavenly things, may we also long for the supreme source of life.
Full of confidence we pray to our heavenly Father in the words Christ taught us. Our Father… Hail Mary (X3)… Glory be…
PRAYER OF PETITION
Blessed Saint Monica, please add your prayers to all those mothers who are concerned and worried about their children, especially those who have turned away from Christ and His Church. Take them under your protection and give them the courage to walk in the ways of the Lord despite the temptation and false values they find in today’s world. Please also, take my personal request to God for my loved ones with the same fervour and persistence with which you prayed for your own son. Amen. Blessed Saint Augustine, we entrust to your powerful intercession our hearts and those of our loved ones, so that we will all be faithful to the Love and Grace of God who invites us to conversion, to live and rest in Him, to live in the communion of love with all our brothers and sisters and to spread his love to all our neighbours. Amen.
Saint Monica and Saint Augustine, lead me to true conversion.
Saint Monica and Saint Augustine, lead me to true conversion.
Saint Monica and Saint Augustine, lead me to true conversion.
O Saint Monica, who through prayer and tears achieved the conversion of your son and your husband to God, look into my bitter heart. I pray now for this person who causes so much trouble and suffering to my heart and to my whole family… (Name the person you pray for)
Saint Monica, may your prayers join mine to move the Good God, so that He, the living and true God may make this person for whom I pray for, return to the right path. Santa Monica, let the Father in Heaven call this prodigal son back to his father’s home. Give me this joy and I will be forever grateful.
LET US PRAY
O God, comforter of the afflicted, health to those who wait on You, who mercifully accepted the pious tears of the blessed mother Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine and her husband Patricius, grant us through Your Intercession, that we may weep for our sins and find indulgence of Your grace. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Augustine, pray for us!
Santa Monica, intercede for us!
Through the intercession of Saints Monica and Augustine, may the Lord bless + us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Compiled from various sources by Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?