Praying is for the tough. It’s really not as easy as “with God I can scale any wall” as the psalm sings. The mother of a teenage boy drove her mad beyond imagining as teenagers do. She came to a priest as mothers often do and listened with tears in her eyes to the story of another mother who spent years praying for her wayward son who enjoyed giving her her years, as we say.
The priest related the story of the other mother whose boy went from bad to worse as her prayers went unanswered. The boy’s father decided to offer him a gap year after school – to take him out of the bad environment before he would go to the big city for university. The mother kept on praying, visiting the holy places and gathering the advice of many holy priests and bishops. The gap year saw him falling head over heals in love with a beautiful lass and before you knew he fathered a child, too young to take her hand in marriage. A bishop told the boy’s poor mother that a child for whom so many tears were shed can never stay lost. She kept on praying.
He kind of made it in life by our standards, earned good money since he was a bright boy, well, a bright man by now. Yet for all his learning and earning, he wasn’t a happy man. And his mother kept up her prayers. But also did what mothers sometimes do, make no mistake about it – stopped cooking for him. And her prayers went unanswered.
He mocked her church ways and childlike faith, knowing it wasn’t for him. After his father’s death, he emigrated to the bright lights, escaping his nagging mother. Or so he thought. The old lady eventually caught up with him. Slowly he developed doubts about his ways and beliefs. But only slowly. And his mother kept on praying.
He began to realise how strong his mother’s faith was, how far advanced she was, way ahead of him in life and wisdom. And because nothing in this life lasts forever, eventually, the dam wall broke. He and his son and best friend were baptized and received into the church one Easter Vigil.
And his mother knew her prayers never went unanswered. God just had his own schedule. His timing wasn’t hers. It always looked so dark and lonely, as if God was slumbering and sleeping. Yet she never stopped praying. She was Monica. Aunt Monica. Saint Monica. That boy of hers, a saint too by her prayers, Augustine.
And that mother with the difficult teenager ready to throw in the towel knew she had new and certain inspiration in St. Monica, a new ally in heaven. Like Aaron and Hur keeping up Moses’ arms in prayer. For the Lord sleeps not nor slumbers. When the Son of man comes he will find faith like Saint Monica’s, a mother’s faith.
I, too, take courage and I can continue a little stronger, for our mothers are here with us.