Friday, August 27, 2010

Feast Day of St. Monica

Today we celebrate the life of St. Monica, the woman who taught us to patiently pray for children who would by all outer appearances seem to be lost causes--she's the mom of St. Augustine, one of the important early church shapers, whose feast day we celebrate tomorrow.

St. Monica had a difficult marriage, and by modern standards, I'd guess that most women until very recently had difficult marriages. Monica is the patron saint of abused women, abused children, victims of unfaithfulness, those who have difficult marriages, and those who have disappointing children.

I'm lucky that I've rarely been in circumstances that would prompt me to ask St. Monica to pray for me.

I'm interested in the early church and women. I'm interested in the early church women that are recognized, the ones that have been canonized. In my younger years, I'd have been rather shrill about the sexism of canonizing women whose primary attribute seems to be their patient endurance of abuse. In my older years, I recognize that people can change, the way that Augustine changed. In my older years, I recognize the value of praying, even if it takes decades for change to come.

There's a woman in my office, and we chat occasionally. She's prone to conspiracy theories. She sees the forces of evil (in the form of corporations, Republicans, the upper classes) all around, and they're winning. I'm much more optimistic.

Yesterday I tried to explain why I'm optimistic. If we could time travel back to 1985, I'd have told you that Nelson Mandela would die in jail, that South Africa would devolve into civil war, that the Soviet Union would control Eastern Europe forever. I was convinced we would all die in a nuclear holocaust.

For reasons I can't explain logically, those events didn't happen. I know that plenty of people across the planet pray for freedom and justice. I know that those prayers can be answered. I know that betrayal can lead to reconciliation. I know that God has a powerful vision for this creation, and I believe that redemption is underway.

Of course, we're not there yet. So please, St. Monica, pray for us as we struggle with abuse and abandonment.

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