Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Love Never Gives Up, No Matter How Impossible
Feast of St. Monica, widow - III Class
Common Mass Cognovi
Full Latin-English propers here.
St. Monica is famous for converting her son, St. Augustine. Think about what that must have been like. She raised her little boy, holding him in her arms as a baby and taking care of him as a child. He was a sweet little child. He was mommy's little boy and the apple of her eye. He grew up into something different. He became a horrible sinner. He entered into concubinage (cohabitation-of course you know I had to condemn that first). He was promiscuous. He loved to party. He searched for philosophies and beliefs that defended his vices and opinions. He obviously didn't practice the faith or go to Mass anymore.
St. Monica didn't want him like this. She wanted him to be holy and a saint. The whole world told her that her son doesn't want to live the way she wants him to. He has chosen this life. He has chosen concubinage and promiscuity. He has established his life this way and it is too late to establish it any other way. He has already lived the prime of his life and he lived it in sin. You can't go back in time and re-establish his life any other way. This is his life. This is what he wants. She needs to respect that and stop forcing her will on him. What she wants isn't him; rather it is a fictional and fanciful version of him that never existed and never will because he never wanted that life. He wants this life of concubinage and all sorts of sin and she needs to accept reality.
Each sin of his brought great pain and insult. She accepted this pain and did not resist it. She did not try to escape it. She did not want it to stop. She accepted it and let it come. She treated suffering as a good thing. Why? Suffering accomplishes two goals: it joins us to Christ, which gives us consolation in that we and Christ are suffering together and since our suffering is joined to Christ's then our suffering can be offered up to atone for sins, both ours and those of others. Second, accepting suffering makes us submissive and malleable. We no longer resist anything God gives us, no matter how painful, so God can do great things with us. She accepted the pain of his sins mocking her and the life she wanted for him with his sins replacing the life he should have had. She offered it up and became submissive to this pain that God was giving her. Like Christ, she became obedient and humbled herself to a humiliating death and like Christ, God greatly exalted her and accomplished one of the greatest conversions of all time. This is what it means to be joined to Christ. We become like lambs as Christ became like a lamb, going silently to His death, not resisting any of the pain, as the pain destroys the sins that caused it. St. Monica's pain destroyed the sins that caused it because joining her pain to Christ's pain made her pain pleasing to God.