Today is my middle daughter's eleventh birthday. We got to go shopping and out to eat together, before I fly to Minnesota for a weekend wedding.
Monica is named for the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. That faithful woman prayed day and night for nine long years, that her son would be converted and brought into the catholic church; and shortly before her death, her prayer was answered. Augustine was baptized, and later became the bishop of Hippo in North Africa. He is certainly one of the most important and influential fathers of the western church. As we give thanks to and for our mothers this weekend, it would be good to remember St. Monica as a godly example of faith and perseverance in prayer, as well as a testimony to the significance that even one mother can have.
My own Monica's second name, Anastasia, is the Greek word for the Resurrection of Our Lord. That is the hope in which we as Christians live, even though under the Cross and surrounded on all sides by death. As father Abraham received his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved, back from the dead, figuratively, so did my wife and I receive Monica back from the figurative death of surgery ten years and two months ago. At that tender age of ten months, she had to have surgery to deal with an arachnoid cyst that had formed on her brain. By the point that our doctor discovered the problem, the cyst was as large as a small fist, and had caused the formation of a fluid-filled cave where Monica's brain should have had some room to breathe. Letting the nurses wheel my baby away from us, through those double doors, into surgery, was probably the most traumatic moment in my life. Not sure if it's ever been topped, and I pray that God in His mercy will spare me from anything worse. Hours later, the surgery was successfully completed; days later, I got to bring my baby daughter home. Ten years later, she is a beautiful, energetic, intelligent, young lady in waiting, and I thank God that I have the profound privilege of celebrating her birthday.