Thursday, August 27, 2015

Celebrating Saint Monica with the New Seminarians

This is the homily I preached this morning with the new men on the Feast of Saint Monica.

It’s a story of perduring faith.  The kind that walks the Via Dolorosa and keeps on going.

She was born in the part of Numidia now know as Algeria, on the edge of the desert.  Early on she married a politician by the name of Patrick. But Patrick had a violent temper, especially when he drank, and Monica’s habits of praying and going to Church and taking care of poor people drove him crazy.    

They had three children, one of whom almost died as a child.  But even when he got better and grew up, this child he turned into a first class rascal.  Lazy and selfish, he refused to go to Church, even when his father died when he was 17.

In fact, not only did he refuse to go to Church, he would come home from school and berate his widowed mother about the foolishness of her beliefs.  But she never stopped praying.  For Patrick, for Perpetus and Navitas and even for Augustine, assured by an unnamed holy Bishop that “no child of those tears could ever perish.”

Married to a violent alcoholic who died when her kids were teenagers, with a lazy, selfish and self-righteous son, she was driven not to bitterness, but to prayer.  Morning and night, going from Church to Church praying for her children, especially the errant Augustine, she would leave offerings  behind her of “porridge, bread, water and wine” for the poor.

And her prayers were heard, as Augustine became a priest and a Bishop and one of the greatest shepherds the Church has ever known.  Saint Augustine, whose holiness is an answer to the prayers of his faithful mother.

Some of your mothers and fathers or other adults were cut from that same cloth.  And you will give thanks for their example, their patient endurance and the gift of faith which they have passed on to you.

And now here you are, on this feast of Saint Augustine’s mother, the beneficiary of all those folks whose faith and inspiration brought you to the front doors of this holy house.

Be at peace!  Be not afraid!  Relax!  You’re home!

Or as Saint Paul said to you a few minutes ago: ‘Be reassured!”   For “in our every distress and affliction, through your faith” you will always look up and see that it is only the Lord.

For the Lord and his Church look upon you with joy this day.  On the longing of you heart for holiness, on the fervor of your desire for God’s way and your willingness to leave all and seek only the Kingdom of God.

For the Lord and his Church and all those who love you give thanks for you…”for all the joy we feel on your account before our God?”  With Saint Paul, your rector and pastor and the whole faculty promise that “Night and day we [will] pray beyond measure for you,” that “the Lord make you increase and abound in love…so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”

So, welcome to this holy house, where the work of Monica and Augustine and all the saints continue.  Where we strive for holiness, that God’s will might be done.

My brothers, “faithful and prudent servants” all, welcome home!