The Fruits of Perseverance |
The VerbumQUO for today on the Feast of the holy Widow Saint Monica is "desoláta" which is the Latin adjective for "desolate", a state that St. Monica found herself in since she herself was helpless to help her stubborn son. Thus, in such a state, she turned to God, persevering through constant prayer for the son she had brought into this world. So great was her love that all she asked was his salvation. Through her steady perseverance Saint Augustine went on to become not just a convert, but the staunch stalwart of the Faith, the great Bishop and Doctor of the Church, effecting countless conversions that were planted by the humble seeds of holy desolation in his mother who trusted in God's love and mercy.
Editor, The Daily Catholic
Editor's Note: We resume this reflective series which highlights one word from the Proper of the day's Mass. Taking the Latin Verbum and Quotidianum, which mean respectively "Word" and "Daily", we have coined the word "Verbumquo" by contracting quotidianum to quo and running it together as VerbumQUO for this feature series, thus "The Daily Word," as in the sum of the message, the 'quotient', if you will. It is also our hope that in choosing the Latin word with its meaning and etymology more will be attuned to hearing the word read at the altar and better comprehend the beauty of the Mother tongue. Hopefully in this glorious time of Pascaltide we can gain a higher appreciation and contemplation on how the Daily Proper of the Holy Mass applies in our lives in alignment with the will of Christ and His Blessed Immaculate Mother and His Mystical Bride, His Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Michael Cain, editor, The Daily Catholic
The VerbumQUO for today - the feast of the holy widow Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine - is, "desoláta" which is the Latin adjective for "desolate". Here we refer to the inner feeling of a mother who has reached her wit's end in trying to persuade her child of the sensibilities and truths of the True Faith. How many parents experience the same desolation, talking until they're blue in the face to rebellious offspring who cause their parents so much anguish by walking that tightrope of the world, thinking they are invincible and not realizing until later that they would have fallen long ago were it not for the persevering prayers and sufferings offered in expiation for their children's sins that the angels would be with them while their souls were in mortal sin so that, in God's time, they would be preserved to eventually understand the sacrifices of their parents and convert back to the Faith that is their only hope when all else fails...and it will!
We find desoláta in the Epistle today from 1 Timothy 5: 3-10:
Carissime: Víduas honóra quæ vere vidum sunt. Si qua autem vídua fílios, aut
nepótes habet, discat primum domum suam régere, et mútuam vicem réddere
paréntibus: hoc enim accéptum est coram Deo. Quæ autem vere vidua est, et
desoláta, speret in Deum, et instet obsecratiónibus, et oratiónibus nocte,
ac die. Nam quæ in delícus est, vivens mórtua est. Et hoc præcipe, ut
irreprehensíbiles sint. Si quis autem suórum, et máxime domesticórum curam
non habet, fldem negávit, et est infidélí detérior. Vídua eligátur non minus
sexagínta annórum, quæ fúerit unius vírí uxor, in opéribus bonis.
testimónium habens, si fílios educávit, si hospítio recépit,, si sanctórum
pedes lavit, si tribulatiónem patiéntibus subministrávit, si omne opus bonum
Dearly beloved: Honor widows, that are widows indeed. But if any widow have
children, or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house, and
to make a return of duty to her parents: for this is acceptable before God.
But she that is a widow indeed and desolate, let her trust in God, and
continue in prayers and supplications night and day. For she that liveth in
pleasures, is dead while she is living. And this give in charge, that they
may be blameless. But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of
those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been
the wife of one husband, having testimony for her good works, if she have
brought up children, if she have received to harbor, if she have washed the
saints' feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, íf she
have diligently followed every good work.
In this beautiful Epistle, Saint Paul illustrates the beauty and value of the widow. Bereft of her husband, and fearing the loss of her son's eternal soul, Monica turned in her holy desolation to God. That is the difference between "desolation" and "holy desolation." The former is sans God, depending only upon man and posing a great affront to the Almighty, such as Christ refers in foretelling the "When therefore, you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand" (Matthew 24: 15); the latter refers to realizing only God can rescue one from the dark night of soul and heart. It was in this state that Monica was cast, never giving up hope but placing all trust in God. Her ever persevering prayers and sacrifices finally paid off in God's time. For Monica, patience was a virtue that received the test of tests as she waited and prayed, dying in the realization that all her efforts had been rewarded.
She was a loyal woman to her husband, her children and others, truly living up to the faithful woman of St. Paul's discourse in 1 Timothy 5.
The pronunciation of desoláta is DESS-OH-LAH-TAH with the emphasis on the accent or in the phonetics in the bold. Now let's look at Webster's definition of desolate:
"Desolate", adjective [From Latin noun desolatus pp. of desolare de completely + solus alone; hence: completely alone, abandoned. 1. Destitute of inhabitants, or dwellings; deserted; abandoned. 2. Made unfit for habitation; laid waste. 3. Gloomy; dreary. 4. Without friends; forlorn; lonely - desolated, desolating, verb, 1. To deprive of inhabitants. 2. To lay waste; devastate. 3. To make sorrowful, wretched, or forlorn. 4. To forsake; abandone. desolately, adverb. desolateness, desolator, noun, desolation. 1. The act of making desolate; a laying waste; devastation. 2. The condition of being ruined or deserted. 3. Loneliness; dreariness; sadness. 4. A desolate region; waste."
We can readily understand, because Monica loved both God and her son so, that she felt loneliness, dreariness and great sadness that her son could not see what she saw and practiced. How many times have we said, "my child won't listen to me"? We can only pray that somewhere in that young cranium something got through that in time, God's time when graces are bestowed, that person whom we pray for, will "come to their senses" and realize the prayers and sacrifice of the parent/s. Like Monica, faithful Catholic parents seek first and foremost the salvation of their offspring for that is the main reason they were conceived: to populate Heaven. St. Monica sought only that her son would realize this. Through her undying prayers and relentless perseverance, we know the "rest of the story."
Today's Gospel from Luke 7, we see how Christ gave back to the mother her son who was dead. So also, He gave back to Monica her Augustine who was dead to grace and through grace was raised from sin. So also, our Lord will give us back our offspring who may now be dead if we have the perseverance and trust exhibited by St. Monica. The holy Benedictine Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger shares, in his eighth volume of The Liturgical Year, Augustine's appreciation:
"One of the great charms of the book of Confessions is Augustine's fervent praise of Monica's virtues and devotedness. With what affectionate gratitude he speaks, throughout his whole history, of the untiring constancy of this mother who, seeing the errors of her son, 'wept over him more than other mothers weep over the dead body of their children (Confessions lib. iii, cap. xi). Our Lord, Who from time to time consoles with a ray of hope the souls He tries, had shown to Monica in a vision the future meeting of the son and mother; she had even heard a holy bishop assure her that the child of so many tears could never be lost: still the sad realities of the present weighed heavily on her heart; and both her maternal love and her faith caused her to grieve over this son, who kept away from her, yea, who kept away from her because he was unfaithful to his God. The anguish of this devoted heart was an expiation which would at a future period be applied to the guilty one; fervent and persevering prayer, joined with suffering, prepared Augustine's second birth; and, as he himself says, 'she went through more when she gave me my spiritual than when she gave me my corporal birth' (Ibid)."
Spurred on by the example and guidance of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monica stayed the course and her fruits were multiplied a hundredfold in what she left Holy Mother Church: her dedicated son Augustine. How many are willing to be Monicas for their children? How many are willing to offer expiation for the sins of their children so that they can reap the reward of everlasting life after they have come to the realization that there is no other way to be saved than the thrice-defined dogma of Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus for the True Faith is the only path to Heaven.
Therefore, all those who find themselves desolate because of a loved one who seems lost, join the prayer offered by Dom Gueranger today:
"From the eternal home where thou art now happy with this son who owes to thee his life both of earth and Heaven, cast a loving look, O Monica, on the many Christian mothers who are now fulfilling on earth the hard but noble mission which was once thine. Their children are also dead with the death of sin; and they would restore them to true life by the power of their maternal love. After the Mother of Jesus, it is to thee that they turn, O Monica, whose prayers and tears were once so efficacious and so fruitful. Take their cause in hand; thy tender and devoted heart cannot fail to compassionate them in the anguish which was once thine own. Maintain their courage; teach them to hope. The conversion of these dear ones is to cost them many a sacrifice; procure them the generosity and fortitude to pay the price thus asked of them by God. Let them remember that the conversion of a soul is a greater miracle than raising a dead man to life; and that divine justice demands a compensation which they, the mothers of these children, must be ready to make. This spirit of sacrifice will destroy that hidden egotism which is but too frequently mingled with what seems to be affecton of the purest kind. Let them ask themselves if they would rejoice as thou didst, O Monica, at finding that a vocation to the Religious life was the result of the conversion they have so much at heart. If they are thus disinterested, let them not fear; their prayers and sufferings must be efficacious; sooner or later, the wished-for grace will descend upon the prodigal, and he will return to God and to his mother."
God will not fail us if we, like Monica, trust in God for when all others abandon us, God never will. Therein is our hope and assurance of the fruits of perseverance.