Thursday, August 27, 2009


“Saint Monica”
by Luis Tristán De Escamilla,1616


Biographical Information about St. Monica [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Monica

Readings and Commentary:

Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16

Blessed the husband of a good wife,
twice-lengthened are his days;
A worthy wife brings joy to her husband,
peaceful and full is his life.
A good wife is a generous gift
bestowed upon him who fears the LORD;
Be he rich or poor, his heart is content,
and a smile is ever on his face.

A gracious wife delights her husband,
her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones;
A gift from the Loan is her governed speech,
and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth.
Choicest of blessings is a modest wife,
priceless her chaste soul.
A holy and decent woman adds grace upon grace;
indeed, no price is worthy of her temperate soul.
Like the sun rising in the Loan's heavens,
the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.
Commentary on
Sir 26:1-4, 13-16

The son of Sirach writes beautifully about the virtues of the “good wife”. The virtues of the good wife are extolled; thoughtfulness, humility, grace, temperance, and chastity. They bring joy to her husband and honor to her house. Although not included in this selection, these attributes are contrasted with the sins of the wicked wife in this section of the book. (see also Proverbs 31:10-31)

Psalm 131:1bcde, 2, 3

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother's lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
Commentary on
Ps 131:1bcde, 2, 3

Psalm 131 is an individual lament praying for harmony and humility among the members of the community. The singer proclaims trust in the Lord and peace, like children's contented peace, secure in the knowledge of the love and protection of their parents.

CCC: Ps 131:2 239; Ps 131:2-3 370
Luke 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
"Do not weep."
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!"
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
"A great prophet has arisen in our midst,"
and "God has visited his people."
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.
Commentary on Lk 7:11-17

St. Luke’s Gospel continues the description of Jesus ministry. Just prior to this event, Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant. He now demonstrates his power over sin and death as he raises the widow’s son from the dead. “Jesus' power over death prepares for his reply to John's disciples in
Luke 7:22: 'the dead are raised.' This resuscitation in alluding to the Prophet Elijah's resurrection of the only son of a widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-24) leads to the reaction of the crowd: 'A great prophet has arisen in our midst'[3]
CCC: Lk 7:11-17 994; Lk 7:16 1503

We hear the Gospel story of Jesus being moved by the love of a mother for her son and taking the action. In response to that mother’s love and pain, he reaches out and raises him from death. His actions recall to us the words spoken to St. Monica by an unnamed bishop as she wept for the soul of her son, St. Augustine; "the child of those tears shall never perish." In many ways St. Monica was much like the Blessed Virgin Mary in her devotion to her son although her son St. Augustine was very un-like the son of the Holy Mother.

St. Monica never gave up on her wayward child. He seemed bent on self destruction as is recorded in his confessions. Yet holy Monica, who had endured so much pain in both her own upbringing and much of her marriage, persevered in prayer with an attitude so free of bitterness and vindictiveness that it served as an inspiration for others who were in similar situations.

We hear the Gospel words of how much Jesus loves all of us, most especially those who like himself give all of their love to others without expectation of reward or indeed without expecting that love to be returned. For those who have that kind of love, the Lord provides a bottomless well of love in return. In him is the strength, loaned without effort to those who follow his example.

Today we celebrate a mother’s great love and see in it an echo of out Lord and savior. May St. Monica pray for us this day that our love for others might increase and we too might imitate Jesus whose love and mercy are without bounds and without end.

[1] The picture is “Saint Monica” by Luis Tristán De Escamilla,1616
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] See NAB footnote on Luke 7:11ff

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