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October 20, 2013

Mother and Son, two great Saints in the Church you may have heard about: Monica and Augustine. In “The Confessions” of St. Augustine there is a story of his mother, Monica: how that courageous woman, with an unfaithful husband, a malicious mother-in-law, and a dissolute son, managed to surmount all these obstacles through transcendent faith and dogged perseverance in prayer. Monica was born in African and although reared as a Christian she was given in marriage to a pagan, Patridus. A violent temper and loose morals made Patricius less than a model husband, yet he heard no complaints from Monica. She was content to give him the example of her Christian conduct, and left the rest to God. It was an effective method; first the mother-in-law, then the husband became Christians, and Monica was left with only her son, Augustine, to worry about.

He was the most trying problem of all and was to torment Monica for years by his behaviors. Sent to Carthage to study, the young man joined the heretical Manichean sect, acquired a mistress, and learned a proud, youthful disdain for the counsel of his mother, who by this time was alone in the world except for her two sons. Monica saw Augustine drifting farther away from her and the true faith. Prayer was her chief resource and she used it unceasingly. "Such great, such frequent, and uninterrupted prayers," is the way Augustine remorsefully describes them. For years the prayer seemed to be in vain; as Augustine's fame as a teacher increased, he became less inclined than ever to mend his ways.

Twenty nine years had passed, Augustine began to change and abandoned Manicheism and was seriously investigating Christianity. Overjoyed at the change, Monica redoubled her prayers and sacrifices until Augustine completed his journey toward Catholic faith. This was the conversion Monica had been praying for, and when it was made she felt that her mission in life was accomplished.

In the Gospel of this Sunday Jesus asks us to pray always and never lose heart. Perseverance is essential in prayer. Don’t give up. Keep on praying, even when there is little or no hope. Too many of us are like a man who came to me not too long ago with a problem. I asked if he had prayed about it. “Sure, Father,” the man answered. “How often?” I asked. “Oh, just once,” the man admitted. I then explained that we have to keep on praying, that we ought to pray always and not to lose heart as Jesus tells us in the Gospel.

I urge Catholics to pray every day, at least morning, evening and at meals. That is the reason we repeat the Hail Mary so often – we want Mary to pray with us and for us now and at the hour of our death. That is why we should pray the Our Father everyday – “this day,” “our daily bread.” That is the reason we Catholics come again and again and again – some of us every day, all of us at least every Sunday (I hope) – to the same Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with practically the same prayers. By not granting our prayer at the first asking God draws us closer and closer to himself as a father does on putting off his child.

Maybe some of you wonder what your parish priest pray for? Every morning at the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle and during Mass I pray for you. I pray that the Lord will draw you closer to him and grant you the grace to live your Christian life in your family and in the parish. I also pray for those who are doing ministry to serve others in our community. I pray for the whole Church that we continue to follow the Lord. I pray for the less fortunate. I also pray for those who have gone before us, especially those in your family and mine. This week I focus my prayers and thanks to God as we are approaching the 3rd Anniversary of Fr. Keith’s death (Oct. 24). Are you willing to pray with me?