As the author notes here is a club no one wants to be part of. What she refers to as the Saint Monica Club.
Many Catholics are aware that St. Monica as the mother of St. Augustine. There is a list of patronages she is known for but prominently for wives and mothers. Her perseverance in prayer helped to lead to the conversions of most-famously her son, but also her Pagan husband and Mother-in-Law. St. Augustine n his “Confessions” reports what St Ambrose told her.
“Go now, I beg you; it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”
This book deals primarily with people dealing with prodigal children.
This is not a book that pretends to tell you the exact steps to follow to bring your children back to the church. Something she acknowledges from the start. What she does offer is a lot of practical advice.
This book is obviously born out of the heartache of a mother struggling in dealing with her own prodigal.
This book also describes with some of the problems a parent will deal with and the hurt involved. How you can start with a form of bargaining with God where you promise some spiritual discipline in return for some kind of instant conversion of the prodigal. What you go through as you try to transform your own heart into following God’s will. To be able to trust in God and the fact that he loves your child more than you do.
People can have an abstract grasp of some of this but when it turns out that you are having to do this for the long-haul that you can become frustrated with perseverance.
There is a lot of wisdom in this book and I found all of it worthwhile. I say this based on my own experience. So if you are in this situation yourself I would highly recommend this book as a guide.
This review now moves on to some thoughts that this book invoked for me on a personal level.
First off I have long referred to my late wife as my St. Monica in that she was long-suffering and persevering in prayer for me. So part of my experience is being a prodigal myself.
This book also made me see something I had never even considered before. That I was totally blind on. My own Mother became Catholic when I was in High School. I didn’t know this at the time since religion was never talked about in my house. I knew she was going to church, I had just figured she had always been Catholic. What I was blind to was the fact that she also had probably been praying for me for years. I had been estranged from my parents for quite a while and it was my becoming Catholic that made me deal with this. Unfortunately, it was not that long after my conversion that she succumbed to cancer. I at least was able to be with her in what turned out to be towards the last week of her life. I feel quite stupid for not thinking about what her prayers entailed.
I am also a parent of prodigals so I am aware of that heartache in persevering in prayer. One of my children has returned to the Church and this happened in what turned out to be my wife’s last weeks. When she returned we did not know that this was indeed my wife’s last weeks. I see this as sheer grace and it still is kind of shocking to me. I played some small role in convincing her to return, but as my own conversion, I see my wife’s role in this and of course predominantly the Holy Spirit.
I still have one prodigal, but I am now much more amenable to God’s timing and his love for my son. If God could get through to me, everyone else has better odds.