St. Monica had way of bridging gap of generations
Editor’s note: This saint series will feature a saint and how he or she is a meaningful example for us today.
Pope Francis wrote that “the saints help all the faithful” for “their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.” St. Monica and St. Augustine are examples of how to engage in intergenerational spiritual dialogue.
St. Monica’s parents gave her in marriage to a Roman pagan in the 300s. She and her husband had three children. One of her children, Augustine, was raised Catholic but fell away. When Augustine was 17 his father died. At this time, Augustine was in Carthage studying.
When Augustine was visiting home, he told his mother he was going to say goodbye to a friend, but he set sail for Rome to teach. Monica was devastated and went to Rome to find her son; however, he had already departed for Milan. Monica then went to find Augustine in Milan. During this time of Augustine’s life, he was attached to pleasures, selfish motives, and trying to find infinite happiness in finite goods.
Monica prayed for Augustine through these challenging years and never lost faith in God’s ability to work inside Augustine’s heart.
In Milan, Augustine had a conversion that began with the preaching of St. Ambrose. Augustine returned to the Catholic faith. Shortly after Augustine’s conversion his mother died.
In Augustine’s autobiography, “The Confessions,” he wrote about a conversation he had with his saintly mother before she died. Monica and Augustine spoke about heaven together. Augustine wrote that his mother said to him, “Son … there was indeed one thing … and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God has exceeded this abundantly.”
Augustine’s conversion grew deeper and in time he became a Catholic priest and then a bishop. He went on to become one of the most dynamic preachers and prolific Catholic writers in Church history.
Monica and Augustine are examples of engaging in intergenerational spiritual dialogue. Pope Francis has spoken on the importance of intergenerational dialogue on a few different occasions. The story of Monica and Augustine show us that “it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.”
Pew Research released data on what is called Generational cohort that compares generations with one another. In their study they found that each generation from the eldest (“Greatest”) to the most youthful (“Younger Millennial”) saw steady decline in that religion is important. Another declining topic was the frequency of prayer. Each generation saw a decline: from Greatest, Silent, Baby Boomer, Generation X, Older Millennial, to Younger Millennial reporting the lowest level of frequency of prayer.
One of the great examples that St. Monica provides us is one in which the older generation prays for the younger generation but also engages in intergenerational spiritual dialogue.
Luke Daghir is a seminarian for the Diocese of Erie. He is with St. Joseph and St. Luke Parishes in Warren County for his parish mission. His favorite saints are St. Andrew, St. Ignatius, St. Hubert, and Pope St. John Paul II.