I had a very interesting experience and an epiphany while viewing “Restless Heart”, a movie about St. Augustine recently released in the US. Special showings for the movie were scheduled over the weekend at a local events center, with tickets purchased in advance as a fundraiser for the John Paul II Life Center.
My husband and I arrived just as the movie was starting, so we were ushered to the front row. About half way into the movie, the video stopped and we could hear a bit of a ruckus farther back in the theater. Soon the lights went on and someone asked for a doctor or nurse. A gentleman was experiencing a medical emergency, requiring assistance until EMTs arrived on the scene. While he was being helped, a brave woman stood up and asked if we could all join her in praying the Divine Mercy chaplet for him and for the medical team. That would have NEVER happened in a regular movie theater. The movie continued only after we finished the chaplet. A few days later, everyone received an email from the sponsors of the event, giving us an update on the ill gentleman and thanking everyone for joining in prayer. It gives me hope for us humans!
Now, the epiphany! I’ve been told to pray for my son through the intercession of St. Monica, St. Augustine’s mother. She prayed for his conversion for over 20 years. I’ve often wondered how she stayed true to her conviction; he was a difficult man, even lying so he could escape to Italy without her. I imagined her piety, thinking she must have been a quiet, sweet saint of a woman. To some degree, I’m sure that is true. But watching “Restless Heart” gave me a new perspective. She was often angry and disappointed with him. At times she yelled at him, admonishing his behavior and decisions.
I’ve felt guilty at times because of my frustration and disappointment with my son’s search outside the church for faith and truth. Instead of prayerful consideration, I have often been angry and impatient. There was certainly very little saintliness in much of my behavior. But after seeing her suffering and anguish, I realized it was okay for me to have those reactions. My motivations are love and concern, not judgement or disapproval. A wise man once said that our job is to get our spouse – and children – into heaven. That is a daunting responsibility and I take it very seriously. So it’s only natural that I would be concerned for my son’s drifting away from the Church.
Many of my prayers have been answered and “my Augustine” is finding his way back. I am so grateful and work to stay positive about his return. We disagree on many points and he still tries to pick and choose his beliefs. But there is no doubt in my mind that he loves God, believes in Christ, and seeks the Spirit in his life. And that is progress!
“Our hearts are restless till they rest in thee.” St Augustine