God has established a law: we need to ask him for the graces we need in our lives, and then we will be answered. Importuning him is a sign of faith, of trust in God.
Newsroom (05/09/2023, 16:47 – Gaudium Press) When talking about prayer, nothing could be more appropriate than talking about the prayer of mothers for their children. And to speak of prayer for children, nothing could be more appropriate than to speak of the prayers of St. Monica asking for the conversion of her son Augustine.
“Beseeching” God to ask for a grace is a sign of Faith
God has laid down a law: we need to ask him for the graces we need in our lives in order to be answered. Jesus was emphatic: “And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened” (Lk 11:8-10). Whoever does not ask does not receive.
Jesus said this in the parable of the neighbor who knocked on the door of another’s house to ask for some bread at midnight, because he had received a visitor and was out of bread. When the neighbour wouldn’t answer him, Jesus said: “I tell you, if he doesn’t get up to give you the loaves because he is your friend, he will certainly get up and give you as many loaves as you need because of your annoyance”.
What did Jesus want to teach us with these words?
That we should do the same with God. Annoy him! But why does God do this? It’s to find out if we really trust him; if we have true faith, like that Canaanite woman, who wasn’t Jewish, but who insistently asked him to heal her demon-possessed son (Mt 15:22). If we ask once or twice and don’t receive, and don’t ask again, it’s because we don’t trust him.
St. Augustine teaches us: “God wouldn’t tell us to ask if he didn’t want to hear us. Prayer is a key that opens the gates of heaven. When you see that your prayer has not departed from you, you can be sure that mercy has not departed from you either. Great gifts require a great desire because everything that is easily obtained is not valued as much as what has been desired for a long time. God doesn’t want to give you what you ask for right away so that you learn to desire it with great desire.”
St. Augustine was always grateful for his mother’s persevering prayer
No one like St. Augustine understood the power of a mother’s prayer for her son; for twenty years his mother St. Monica prayed for his conversion, and she succeeded. He himself recounts this in his book “Confessions”.
He says that she went three times a day to the Tabernacle in Hippo and asked Jesus that her Augustine would become “a good Christian”. That’s all she wanted, she didn’t ask for him to one day be a priest, a bishop, a saint, a Doctor of the Church and one of the greatest theologians and philosophers of all time. But God wanted to give him more.
God wanted Augustine to be this giant of the Church, so she needed to pray longer and without getting discouraged. And Saint Monica didn’t get discouraged, which is why we have this giant of the faith today. If she had stopped praying after asking for 19 years… her son wouldn’t have converted. And we wouldn’t have the Doctor of Grace.
“…it is impossible for God not to convert the son of so many tears”, of so many prayers
When Augustine left North Africa to be the official orator of the Roman emperor in Milan, she went after him. She took a ship, crossed the Mediterranean and went to pray for her son. One day, she went to the bishop of Milan in tears to tell him that she didn’t know what else to do for the conversion of her Augustine, whom the bishop knew well because of his fame. The bishop simply replied: “My child, it is impossible for God not to convert the son of so many tears”.
And it happened. Saint Augustine, listening to the preaching of Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan, was converted; he was baptized by him and was soon ordained a priest, chosen to be a bishop and one of the greatest saints of the Church. All because that mother never tired of praying for her son’s conversion… for twenty years!
St. Augustine said in his “Confessions” that his mother’s tears before the Lord in the Tabernacle were like “the blood of her heart distilled into tears in her eyes”.
What the Church teaches about prayer
The Church teaches: our prayer must be humble, confident and persevering. Humble like that of the publican who beat his breast and asked for forgiveness before the proud Pharisee; confident like that of the Canaanite mother and persevering like that of mother Monica. God can’t resist the tears and prayers of a mother who prays like that.
What should Catholic parents be like?
Saint Augustine sums up his mother’s life in these words: “She cared for all of us who lived together after we were baptized, as if she were the mother of all; and she served us as if she were the daughter of each one of us.”
St. Monica’s example was so imprinted on St. Augustine’s mind that, years later, certainly remembering his mother, he exhorted: “Seek with all diligence the salvation of those of your own household”.
It has been said of St. Monica that she was twice the mother of Augustine because she not only gave birth to him but rescued him to the Catholic faith and the Christian life.
This is how Christian parents should be: twice progenitors of their children, in their natural life and in their life in Christ.
(Gaudium Press editorial page based on the article “The Power of a Mother’s Prayer” by Professor Felipe Aquino)