St Augustine is said to be the “son of his mother’s tears.” Today is the feast day of that amazing woman – St. Monica. Years ago, I adopted her as my patron saint, since I had a hard time finding a St. Colleen (maybe some day!). I chose St. Monica after reading Louis de Wohl’s book about St. Augustine. (If you have never read his novels about the saints, do yourself a favor and find some of them – they are great!).
I remember being so inspired by St. Monica’s faith and perseverance in praying (through her tears) for the conversion of her husband and her son, even when it seemed as if there was no reason to hope. She was fervent in her own practice of the faith, and untiring in prayer. What an example of the kind of mother I want to be!
Last night, I received an email from a friend whose teenaged son has been making some bad choices. I wished I had some words of wisdom for her, but my own kids haven’t reached that point yet, as they are younger. I know, though, that God has given my children the same free will He gave me, and that despite my best attempt at parenting, they will make some wrong choices in life, just as I have. So what’s a mother to do? I think St. Monica has shown us exactly what to do: cry! And of course, pray without ceasing.
But let’s talk about those tears for a minute. I will be honest — I love a good cry! Some people believe that crying doesn’t make anything better, but I beg to differ. For me, it is the best way to get out all the pent-up emotion I’ve been carrying about something, and once that’s all out, I then have room in my brain to process the situation in a better way. And here’s the best part. That pain, that comes out through the tears, can be offered back to God as a prayer for whatever situation is causing them to begin with. Once I have released all the tears I can, it somehow feels like I can then release the whole situation to Him a little bit more freely. When I am in a place of complete brokenness, it is then that I truly turn to God, realizing that He is the only one who really has any control over the situation anyway.
And the tears of the saints are not in vain. The reading from evening prayer for today says it so well:
“Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the Lord, they shall return from the enemy’s land. There is hope for your future, says the Lord; your sons shall return to their own borders” (Jer. 31:16-17).
So go ahead and cry! And then pray without ceasing! There’s power in a mother’s tears.