Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Sticktoitiveness of Saint Monica

Today we celebrate Saint Monica, mother of St. Augustine. When Augustine was a young lad, he was not a nice Catholic boy. He dabbled in heresy (the Manichean heresy), drinking and carousing. He lived with a woman and had a child out of wedlock. He was extremely smart, but he was a pain in the side to poor Monica.

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.)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Miraculous Church

As Catholics, we tend to forget that our Church is the Church of miracles. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone (even priests) downplay the supernatural aspects of the Church.

"We can pray for healing, but it will be a spiritual healing. God will help us through our suffering."

No, no, NO!

Jesus didn't tell lepers just to be strong and bear their leprosy with dignity.  He didn't tell them to offer it up. He healed them, but he always asked them what they wanted first.

And He always credited the faith of the person who was being healed. As Dr. Margaret Schlientz explains it, it was His power that did the healing, but it was the person's faith that manifested the healing.

At St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic parish this weekend, we are honored to host "The Eucharistic Miracles of the World", a Vatican approved exhibition. Time after time, Jesus has reached out to give us the proof we, as flawed humans, need that the Eucharist is the Real Presence, the actual Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And the Eucharist is the ultimate healer.

The miracles include Lanciano, where the bread and wine turned into actual Body and Blood. Modern scientists evaluated the samples without knowing where they came from. They said the samples came from a heat muscle, and they wanted to know how the doctor took a sample from a man who was still alive.

When the later miracle at Buenos Aires occurred, samples from Lanciano and Buenos Aires were compared, and scientists said they came from the same person.

And still we doubt.

If we want to see more miracles in this modern world, then we need to have expectant faith. Expect miracles. Expect healing. Expect a huge, active God to take part in your daily life. He wants to, but He won't circumvent our free will.

What miracles have you seen in your own life?