Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

8/27/2010 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What does it mean to be a saint?

The saints were men and women who, in love with the fullness of truth, not only lived for God, but lived in God. They were people whose love for God rose to such heights as to illumine all of created reality in its true light. In everything they saw God's reflection: in the eyes of a tender and innocent child; in jeweled, dew covered trees on a fall mourning; in the sadness of the injured; in the eternal grandeur of the sky. The saints lived by St. Paul's words: "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31).

St. Monica with her son, St. Augustine, for whom she prayed over a period of seventeen years.

St. Monica with her son, St. Augustine, for whom she prayed over a period of seventeen years.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/27/2010 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- St. Monica was born to a Christian family in North Africa in 333 A.D. Married as a young maiden to Patritius, a pagan who held an official position in Tagaste, her life was filled with disappointment and trial, for Patritius was a man of frequent short temper and dissolute habits. Yet, though faced with daily tensions and difficulties in her unhappy marriage, St. Monica continually displayed a profound and dedicated love for God. Though her habits of prayer, almsgiving, and acts of charity annoyed Patritius, no doubt being the cause of significant friction in their marriage, Monica refused to ignore her duty toward those words of Christ, "Come, follow me" (Mt 4:19).

It is clear that St. Monica possessed an inner strength that cannot be obtained by human effort alone. Some would look at her life and see little but unhappiness, tragedy and pain. They would see a woman married to a man who may have rarely shown her any love, a woman whose life was one of bleakness and confrontation, struggle and insecurity. But what did St. Monica see in her life? Who was this woman who, a model of the virtuous mother, lived so long ago, in a time so different from our own?

Though there are many who ask, "What is a saint?" and "Who is a saint?", contemporary society has, to a large degree, nearly lost all understanding of what or who a saint is. It is not that the majority is unconcerned with the meaning of "saint," rather it is quite unaware of these true heroes, men and women whose love for God shined forth for all to see. As a result, the saints have often become not a people dimly known, but rather a foreign people whose holy lives are blinded from view in a modern-day landscape colored by relativism and indifference.

It is helpful to understand who the saints were by understanding who they were not. The saints were not a people of sporadic prayer, irregular attendants at Mass, who passed outside church doors only to indifferently go on about their business of life while blending in with the weeds. They were not halfhearted, uncommitted people who saw the truth as little more than a pliable lump of clay which can be manipulated to serve their interests. For the saints, God is not someone whom they turn to only when a particular occasion warrants; nor is God a part-time quest, thought about when there seems nothing else to think about; nor is God seen as a changeable "power" in the universe which adapts itself to whatever "spiritual" notions a particular individual might have.

The saints were men and women who, in love with the fullness of truth, not only lived for God, but lived in God. They were people whose love for God rose to such heights as to illumine all of created reality in its true light. In everything they saw God's reflection: in the eyes of a tender and innocent child; in jeweled, dew covered trees on a fall mourning; in the sadness of the injured; in the eternal grandeur of the sky. The saints lived by St. Paul's words: "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31).

We have all seen the sun's rays pass through a cloud-covered sky, cast down upon the earth in glowing, translucent streaks. When we look at this light flowing from the heavens, our gaze may be momentarily drawn toward the earth, yet it quickly returns to the light's origin, that burst of brilliant light which issues forth from the parting clouds. So it is with the saints: touched by the reality and heat of God's infinite love, their gaze is constantly drawn toward the Source of Light, who is the Origen of Life from which all else gathers its light.

It is God who casts his light upon the saints and draws them to himself; God parts the clouds of the soul, flooding it with his unfathomable light which warms those hidden recesses, burning away impurities which obscure the path to the heights. The soul who, in docile response, gives itself completely over to this Light, fixing its gaze on the Beloved who so graciously illumined its inner depths, is a saint. In this light the reality of existence is unveiled to the soul, and, regardless of whatever it might be surrounded by in the world, the soul intuitively knows its beginning and end is in God alone. God is everything, he is desired above all else, he is the supreme and incomparable Treasure for which the soul would gladly and without delay give its life. Thus the soul lives immersed in God, truly sharing in the divine life of the Beloved, which gives the soul great strength, allowing it to overcome tragedy and trial with ease, for all is seen as a path to God, preordained by the Beloved as a way of light.

Drawing her strength from God, St. Monica embraced the path of light which flowed from the heavens, and thus saw the reality of her life and the true beauty of motherhood. She saw in her life a divine purpose, one of heroic virtue in prayer, persistence in living a life of holiness, and maternal care for God's children. The power of her prayers are attested by her husband's conversion, for shorty after he was received into the Catholic Church he died. What would have become of Patritius if not for St. Monica's prayers?

Much of what we know of St. Monica revolves around her son, St. Augustine, and the long seventeen years in which she prayed and labored for the salvation of his soul. We read in St. Augustine's Confessions of the perils of his former life: "See what I was in myself and by myself. I had destroyed myself, but He who made me remade me." Though by his own admission he at one time lived a life of laziness and impurity, St. Augustine is today one of 33 Doctors of the Catholic Church, the Doctor of Grace and the Doctor of Doctors.

In St. Augustine's Confessions is recorded his last hours with his mother, St. Monica. He tenderly speaks of her, and of the final time they spent together in Ostia on the Tiber. He tells us the substance of one of their last conversations together was that they pondered what it might be like "to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, 'which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man'" (1 Cor 2:19).

St. Augustine continues: "in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said: 'Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?'"

It indeed appears that after St. Augustine's conversion St. Monica saw her life's work as finished, for she suddenly fell ill and died at Ostia, a town a few miles south of Rome. It was the year 387. Many speculate that she offered her life in exchange for her son's -- the supreme maternal sacrifice. St. Monica is remembered as a model of the virtuous mother.

---------------

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is managing editor of catholicpathways.com, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Living Faith

Let the Holy Spirit Teach us How to Become Prayer Watch

Image of St. Paul wrote to the early Christians in Greece, telling them to pray without ceasing. (1 Th. 5:16-19) They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, bills, and yes, difficulties and struggles beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith. Yet, he instructed them to Pray without ceasing. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he ... continue reading


Pope Francis meets, blesses Sudanese woman condemned to death for faith Watch

Image of Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy, but has since escaped her sentence and left Sudan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has met and blessed the Sudanese woman who was recently condemned to death for her faith. Meriam Ibrahim was condemned to death in Sudan for the crime of apostasy. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has met and blessed Meriam Ibrahim at the ... continue reading


MIRACLE IN ENGLAND: God's face smiles over Norfolk, or is it Sean Connery or Karl Marx? Watch

Image of This image is suspected to show the face of God in clouds over Norfolk, however, it may also be the face of Karl Marx or Sean Connery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The English have long thought themselves special, and a new photograph from Norfolk in England may just prove that God does indeed smile on the English. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amateur photographer Jeremy Fletcher took an image that shows a face in ... continue reading


Pope Francis to visit Mafia stronghold this weekend Watch

Image of Pope Francis' stance against organized crime is seen as remarkable; the Mafia and the Catholic Church have previously been seen by many as having

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Incensed about the loss of innocent life in his immediate surroundings, Pope Francis plans to travel to the Mafia stronghold of Caserta, near Naples this weekend in an effort to set things right. The murder of three-year-old Nicola "Coco" Campolongo, a boy who ... continue reading


Pope expresses regret with exodus of Christians from Mosul Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave. (CNA/EWTN News) - "They are persecuted; our brothers are ... continue reading


Your Catholic Voice Foundation delivers for Sisters of St. Joseph

Image of They're on their way, thanks to you.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An order for 350 Bibles for a Catholic school in Grenada has been shipped to the sisters free of international shipping charges, thanks to you, the readers of Catholic Online. The shipping charges stood at approximately $800, and was covered by donations. Now, Your ... continue reading


This is Ch__ch. What is missing?

Image of What's missing? You are!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What's missing from this church? You are! Are we mistaken? Show up and tell us you are already there and get your daily prayer and more for FREE as our thanks.Click here now to say you're there!Now you can share this question with your friends. Are they at church? continue reading


Unaccompanied migrant children need our help

Image of This is an image of immigrant children presently housed in conditions that would be unconstitutional for convicted felons. These children are without their families, alone and afraid and without control over their future, they are the victims of many culprits.

By Tony Magliano

Tens of thousands of children fleeing desperate conditions have entered the United States asking for help. And many more are coming. What kind of welcome is being offered to them? The answer to that question is still largely undetermined. According to Human Rights ... continue reading


Freedom, Choosing and Becoming: Moral Life and Truth Watch

Image of Our Moral Life in Christ.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

What we choose determines who we become. Choosing what is good changes the chooser, empowering him or her to proceed along the pathways of virtue and develop the habitus - or habits- which promote Christian character. The Catechism of the Catholic Church ... continue reading


Pope Francis warns of migrant children falling prey to 'racist and xenophobic attitudes' Watch

Image of Pope Francis is calling for help and concrete solutions tot he plight of migrant children now flooding U.S. borders.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As hundreds of thousands of migrant children from Central and South American continue to flood the United States across the border of Texas, Pope Francis is calling for help and concrete solutions. Speaking at the Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretariat yesterday, ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,2 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 36:6-7, 8-9, 10-11
6 your saving justice is like towering mountains, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:10-17
10 Then the disciples went up to him and asked, 'Why ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 24th, 2014 Image

St. John Boste
July 24: One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born at ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter