Q. I have a friend whose adult child has wandered from the Catholic faith, no longer attends church, and is living with his girlfriend. She’s asked if there’s a particular patron saint she should ask to intercede for her son. What should I tell him?
A. The situation you describe is sadly quite common these days. I recommend that you ask for the help of St. Monica (c. 333–387), whose feast we celebrate this week (August 27). Monica was born in what is now Algeria, probably of Berber descent, a Christian but married to a Roman pagan husband. He had a violent temper and was not the best moral example for his children. One of Monica’s sons, after he became an adult, joined a religious cult, took a mistress, and had a child by her. Yet Monica was a devoted and determined mother, unwilling to see her son remain on his wayward path. The day he told her he had joined the cult, she rebuked him and sent him away from her table in disgust. But she later had a vision that convinced her to be reconciled to him, and she began an intense spiritual campaign of intercession for his conversion that lasted for years. One day Monica was deeply consoled when she went to visit a bishop (some believe it to be St. Ambrose of Milan), weeping profusely and begging for his help in bringing her son back to the Church. The bishop famously replied: “The child of those tears shall never perish.” She took hope and kept storming heaven with her prayers. The day finally came when her son was converted and changed his ways. Today we know him as St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430), Bishop of Hippo, a great Father and Doctor of the Church. His feast day (August 28) follows his mother’s this week. So tell your friend to ask for St. Monica’s help, and keep praying! Your son could be a bishop one day.