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Back to School with St. Monica
When I realized today is not only the first day of school in Texas, but also the feast day of St. Monica, I smiled. St Monica is the patron Saint of Mothers and Married Women, but for me, St. Monica is my patron Saint for Modern Mothers, for motherhood today. Living during the 3rd century, Monica struggled with a difficult son who turned away from God. Rather than giving up or giving in to the tough times she faced as a mom, St. Monica persevered through it all with a devotion to God and constant prayer.
For my family, the spring school semester was filled with difficulty and turmoil as my oldest daughter struggled with anxiety related issues. As a mom, it was extremely difficult to comprehend what my child was going through but not be able to “fix it” for her, and the doctors couldn’t provide a simple solution to make it all better either. And then there is the mommy guilt. As her mom, I felt I must have done something wrong for my precious gift from God to be hurting. I know that guilt feeling is inevitable and not always logical, but it is a tough one to swallow.
In the end, the best I could do is to give her patience, time, understanding, love and constant prayer. Prayers and tears got me through the school year. That’s probably why I feel so close to St. Monica because she is known for praying and weeping over her child through the difficult times and never giving up. After many years of constant prayer and devotion, her son finally was baptized into the Church becoming not just a Christian, but eventually a Bishop and then one of the early Doctors of the Catholic Church – St. Augustine of Hippo.
Thankfully, this summer appears to have brought some healing for our daughter and more peace of mind for her and the family. But, with the start of school again, I am concerned that all she’s gained over the summer months will be lost. The thoughts about what a return to school could mean for her keep running through my mind. Will the new teachers be beneficial to her continued recovery? Will the academic schedule force a return of her anxiety? Will she end up back where she was in the Spring?
How can I keep my own anxiety as her mom in check? I tell myself… Just breathe. Breathe and pray. I need to pray for my child in the model of St. Monica – constant prayer, a devotion to God and weeping.
Today, on the first day of school, I pray for the intercession of Saint Monica for all Mothers and their children who return to their studies. May we be granted the same fortitude, patience and trust in the Lord as dear St. Monica.
Lisa Henley Jones