And so Monica prayed. And prayed. And prayed. She prayed for 17 years.
By her example, we can see that our petitions to the Lord should not be one-offs. We shouldn't give the Lord or ourselves deadlines. I'll pray for five years and if nothing happens, it must be God's will. We shouldn't give up, ever.
Most people acknowledge her example of perseverance, but she exemplifies several other virtues as well.
She offered her prayers and petitions to the Lord knowing that He will* act in His own time. It was her job to pray. The rest was up to Him.
She stayed close to St. Augustine, closer than he wanted, so one night he ditched her and took a boat to Rome. She followed, but found he had gone to Milan. She followed. This was at a time when boat travel was perilous and difficult. She had the courage of a marine!
Monica, though a Christian, was given to a pagan in marriage. The man had a violent temper, and he came with a cranky mother. Most people would have packed it in and figured that this was a cross to bear. Monica prayed, and before they died, both her mother-in-law and husband converted to Christianity!
She also gives us an example of expectant prayer, something that we are sorely short of in our culture. We should have faith that God will answer our prayers.
In our instant gratification culture, Saint Monica serves to remind us that God's gifts are not "on demand", and that He always hears our prayers.
Saint Monica, pray for us!
* (No. That's not a grammatical error. God is always in the present.)