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  • Writer's pictureVic Bernales

Saint Monica's Exemplary Christian Life

In the Philippines it is not uncommon for wives to be converted to God first before the husbands. It's not the ideal but it's just the usual case. There are exceptions, of course. No wonder many husbands testify that they come to faith in the Lord through the witness of their wives.

It's also the usual case with many children. In spite of some weaknesses their mother has, the Lord has brought them to a saving knowledge of Him through their mother's dedicated Christian life.

It is not surprising that many pastors today or in the past could testify that they are in the ministry partly due to the influence of their mother. I for one could attest to this fact.

I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic family in a very religious town where the influence of the saintly Monica was and is unmistakable. As I've related in some previous posts, my mother would always say that Monica, who's the patron saint of our hometown, is worth imitating as a devout Christian.

In spite of the trials Monica went through for having an unbelieving husband, she persevered and did not give up the Christian faith. By the grace of God, her unbelieving husband, Patricius, got converted later in his life through her godly character and persistent prayers.

Aside from her husband, Monica's other concern and cross, especially as a mother, was her wayward and promiscuous son, Augustine. She was deeply troubled by the life of sin her son was living.

"Turning to an unnamed bishop and pleading for advice, she received these words of wisdom: 'Go your way; as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.' These words were used by the Lord to console [Monica's] anguish and encourage her not to give up as she prayed nine more years for Augustine's salvation" (Diane Strack, General Editor, "Quiet Influence," 38).

For believing wives with non-Christian husbands, Monica's faithful and submissive life is a testimony of God's amazing grace that could work in the conversion of an unbelieving spouse.

The apostle Peter points this truth out in 1 Peter 3:1-2: "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct."

In the same way, for Christian mothers who are burdened by their children who are unfaithful to the Lord, Monica's patience and importunate prayers for her son serve as a model for many to imitate.

She suffered much, no doubt. It was not surprising. She was following her Savior who suffered untold anguish for her sins. Yet the Lord never failed to grant her happiness towards the end of her life.

"Augustine, a brilliant theologian and philosopher, openly wrote of his reprobate life as a young man. He credits his mother, Monica, as the catalyst of his salvation. Through her earnest prayers for his soul, her unconditional love, and her consistent life of faith, he was converted" ("Quiet Influence," 39).

In his "Confessions," Augustine actually recorded the words she imparted him when she realized death was at her doorsteps. "Son," she said, "nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled."


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