St. Monica was born and raised in northern Africa in the days of the early Church (300s). Her family was Christian in a land where few were. As a young woman, her parents married her to a pagan, Patricius, and she had three living children with him. She had a difficult marriage as her husband was not the best of husbands. Her oldest son also took after his father, in his un-Christianlike ways and caused St. Monica great worry. She could have let her life circumstances mold her into becoming a bitter woman. She could have nagged and become un-Christianlike herself, but she did not. She choose to follow the Lord and she prayed all the time for the souls of her husband and her children. Her husband finally did repent and receive Baptism. He died a mere one year later. Her eldest son also eventually abandoned his sinful ways and we know now him as St. Augustine. St. Monica is the patroness of troubled parents, married women, and widows. We celebrate her feast day on August 27th.
On a personal note, I found great inspiration from learning and reading about St. Monica's life, who I did not know until this moment. She shall certainly be on my radar as both a role model and someone to pray to when I feel like giving up on my husband, feel that he will never return to his Catholic roots. And certainly, should the need ever arise (though I pray fervently that it does not!), I can look to her model as a parent of a troubled child.
These thoughts were way too deep for the young group we had but I think they had a blast with what we did plan. For the first time, we all went to morning Mass before heading to the park where we first played, ate, and then did our activities. The kids made holy cards as usual, learned a bit about St. Monica, and all did a family prayer journal craft. I forgot my camera, which I am so bummed about, since the journals turned out beautifully. The other moms and I collectively came up with this craft idea since prayer was such a powerful force in St. Monica's life (in some ways, it seems to be the only tool she used other than her example) and also because of her closeness with her eldest son, St. Augustine, in her later years. To do the craft, each family had one 3-ring binder and choose what to decorate it with as a family. The journal then will be used in the home as desired. For us, it will be a family prayer journal and we will place our prayer intentions on notebook paper inside. To decorate, we had various items to use along with glue and mod podge to create a collage: holy cards, print-outs of Catholic art, ribbon, jewels, glitter glue, cardstock, etc. Ours ended up like this:
My sample journal (I'll probably use it as a personal thank you journal or perhaps a new recipe folder).
The kids' folder, front and back.
Front cover, with a picture of the Holy Family.
Back cover - the kids chose prayer cards to add and I wrote in little prayers.
The best news is that we all were sad to see Summer with the Saints end with the passing of summer so we plan on doing something on the First Fridays throughout the school year: attending Mass and doing something inspired by that particular month. Plus, we plan on trying to rope in any other homeschooling families in our parish (if we find any!).
St. Monica, pray for us!