Sunday Angelus: Ss. Monica and Augustine
Click here to listen to Pope's Sunday Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we remember Saint Monica, and tomorrow her son Saint Augustine - their Christian witness can be a great comfort and help to so many families even in our time.
Monica, born to a Christian family in Tagaste in what is now Tunisia, lived in exemplary manner her mission as wife and mother, helping her husband Patrick to discover the beauty of faith in Christ and the power of evangelical love, capable of triumphing over evil with good.
After her husband's early death, Monica dedicated herself with courage to raising three children, one of them Augustine, who initially made her suffer because he had a somewhat rebellious temperament.
As Augustine himself would later say, his mother delivered him twice: the second time required a long spiritual labour of prayers and tears, but crowned at the end by the joy of seeing him not only embracing the faith and receiving Baptism, but even dedicating himself entirely to the service of Christ.
How much difficulty there is even today in family relationships and how many mothers are anguished because their children have strayed onto wrong paths!
Monica, a wise woman who was firm in her faith, invites mothers not to be discouraged, but to persevere in their mission as wife and mother, keeping firm their trust in God and holding fast with perseverance to prayer.
As for Augustine, all his existence was a passionate search for truth. At the end, but not without long interior torment, he discovered in Christ the ultimate and full sense of his own life and of the entire human story.
Attracted by earthly life in his adolescence, he 'threw himself' into it - as he himself confided (cfr Confessions 10,27-30) - in an egoistic and possessive manner, behaving in ways that caused not a few sufferings to his pious mother.
But through an effortful route, thanks to her prayers, Augustine started opening up to the fullness of truth and love, until his covnersion which took place in Milan under the guidance of the bishop Saint Ambrose. And so Augustine became a model for one path to God, the supreme Truth and the highest Good.
"Late did I come to love you," he writes in his famous book of Confessions, "Beauty that is so old and so new, late did I come to love you. But You were within me, and I was outside where I searched for You...You were with me but I was not with You...You called me, you cried out, you broke through my deafness. You blinded me, srurck me with lightning, and finally healed my blindness" (ibid).
May St. Augustine obtain the gift of a sincere and profound encounter with Christ for all the young people who, thirsting for happiness, look for it by going down the wrong pathways and losing themselves in dead ends.
St. Monica and St. Augustine invite us to address ourselves with trust to Mary, Seat of Wisdom. To her, let us entrust Crhstian parents so that like Monica, they may accompany with their example and with their prayers their children's way in the world. To the Virgin Mother of God, we commend our youth so that, like Augustine, they may always tend towards the fullness of Truth and Love - Christ who alone can satisfy the profound desires of the human heart.
Before proceeding to greet the pilgrims in various languages, the Pope said this:
Next September 1, the Church in Italy celebrates the first Day to Safeguard the Environment - creation which is God's great gift that is now exposed to serious risks by choices and styles of life that can degrade it. Environmental degradation helps make the life of the poor on earth unsustainable. In dialog with Chistians of other confessions, we should commit ourselves to taking care of nature, without exhausting its resources but sharing them in a spirit of solidarity.
On this occasion, I am happy to welcome today representatives of a pilgrimage that followed the Via Francigena from Switzerland to Rome to promote awareness and respect for the environment.
Later, in English, he said: I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Sunday Angelus including the new students from the Pontifical North American College, and the former All-Ireland Hurling champions from Offaly.
Today’s Gospel invites us to join Peter and profess our complete trust in the Lord, who alone has the words of eternal life.
May your stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome renew your faith in Christ, and may God bless you all!
Papa Ratzinger Forum