Aug 28, 2009

Homily for the Feast of St Monica, August 27, 2009

Given at the Church of Our Saviour, New York City – 12.05pm Mass


Prayer is a powerful thing. Often we don’t tangibly feel or see the effects immediately of prayer, but when we truly seek the things of God – salvation and eternal life, our prayers will be answered, if we are patient. In today’s Gospel, Christ is instructing us to be prepared, because at an hour we least expect, the Son of Man will come in glory to judge the living and the dead. It could be today, tomorrow or in a million years, but we need to be prepared to enter into eternal glory today and not delay becoming a saint for 10 years, 20 years, or however long.

If a person we greatly loved was away for a long time, perhaps at war, or travelling, then we would look forward, prepare and pray for their safe homecoming. The Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth, suffered, died and rose to glory, and has promised to return again for our sake. The Lord’s second coming will be a day of joy and peace and eternal life for those who are prepared – but grief and loss for those who have neglected or lost their faith.

If we knew that a robbery was about to strike our home and threaten our life and our family and loved ones, most of us, with a bit of courage, would do anything to protect ourselves, whether it is getting a baseball bat, calling 911, and so on. Jesus' parable of the thief in the night brings home the necessity for watchfulness and being on guard to protect ourselves from danger and destruction, especially under the cover of darkness and secrecy! While we are in the privacy of our own homes and our own rooms, we can be easily tempted to allow the evil one to enter and to allow ourselves to do harm to ourselves.

For some reason, the dark hours of the night are generally the time when people are involved in terrible acts, acts which give great offence to God, ourselves and to our society. Interestingly, most criminal acts occur during the dark of the night.

But even if we do something that is secretive and don’t get caught, God sees, God knows and God hopes that we will reject the evil, and embrace his mercy, forgiveness and love. We can lose heaven and friendship with God if we allow Satan – the deceiver and father of lies – to rob us of our faith and trust in God! The Lord fortunately does not leave us on our own – he stands watch with us to guide, direct, and keep us from harms way.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast day of St Monica, who died in the 4th century. She lived in North Africa, and though a Christian, she married a pagan man Patricius, and they had 3 children, the oldest being a man by the name of Augustine.

Monica was a greater woman of prayer, and she saw the necessity for living a life with God. Every day she would pray and encourage her husband, and then her children, to repent of their sins, to be baptized and to embrace the life of God within his holy Church.

She worried and prayed so much for her husband and children that her tears were said to have “moistened the earth wherever she prayed.” Her husband converted and was baptised towards the end of his life, but her son Augustine refused to accept Jesus Christ and he lived a life of pleasure with many women. He even had an illegitimate son, but despite the great distance that Augustine was from God, his mother Monica never gave up and she continued to pray, to fast and to storm heaven’s door for the salvation of her son.  When Augustine left North Africa in 383, Monica followed him first to Rome, then to Milan

At Milan, through the influence of St. Ambrose, the prayers of Monica finally bore fruit.  Augustine was converted and quickly became one of the greatest theologians and teachers of the faith of all time. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of St Augustine.

I will now read a passage from the Confessions of St Augustine, about the death of his mother.


Let us always persevere in our prayers for others, as Monica did, especially at the altar of the Lord.  Prayer is powerful and if we truly seek the things of God, then God will surely answer! 

St Monica, Pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


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