St. Monica - A Homily



Travis Bradberry is the author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart, a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies and is the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training. He received his bachelor of science in clinical psychology from the University of California – San Diego and holds a dual Ph.D. in clinical and industrial-organizational psychology.

TalentSmart / Emotional Intelligence 2.0 unveils its step-by-step program for increasing emotional intelligence via 66 proven strategies. Why is this important?

  • EQ has zero correlation with IQ
  • People with average IQs (but higher EQs) outperform people with high IQs 70% of the time
  • EQ accounts for about 58% of performance in most jobs
  • On average, people with high EQ make $29,000 more than people with low EQ
  • EQ point increases are highly correlated with salary ($1,300 increase per point)

Basically Bradberry’s idea is that situations trigger emotions – always! Personally, you have to be “self-aware” of your emotions before you can “self-manage.” Having done that, socially you need to become aware of other people’s emotions (their triggers, their background, their personal history, their motivations) before you can begin to manage the relationship effectively.


What does this have to do with St. Monica? Did you ever wonder how St. Monica was able to “manage” the relationship with her son Augustine? Concerning St. Augustine, Father Scott Herd from the Archdiocese of Washington writes:

  • Abandoned his faith as a teenager,
  • Defiantly embraced another religion,
  • Came home from college with a live-in girlfriend,
  • Fathered a child out of wedlock with her,
  • Sneaked out of the country in order to get away from Mom.
  • Suffered from depression at times,
  • Spent many years adrift as he sought meaning and purpose in life,
  • Wasted time and money on silly and immoral entertainment,
  • Struggled with a sexual compulsion that filled him with shame.

Here’s another historical tidbit that plays an important part in this story. Monica might not exactly have been Mother Teresa when she was younger either. One author relates that Augustine once wrote about one episode of her childhood. Specifically it dealt with her and the family chores. She was occasionally sent down to the cellar to draw wine for the family. At some point, she fell into the habit of taking secret sips and developed such a passion for wine that before long she was drinking great draughts of it whenever opportunity offered.

One day a family slave, who had been spying on the little girl, denounced her as a “drunkard” and a wine-bibber. The rebuke so stung and frightened Monica that covered with shame, she gave up the habit. Soon afterwards she was baptized, and henceforth seems to have led a life of irreproachable virtue. For this reason, besides being the “Patron Saint of Mothers,” she is also known to be the Patron Saint of Alcoholics.

Let’s combine Bradberrys’ awareness tool, St. Monica’s experience and Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy. How does one offer mercy and forgiveness to others? Allow me to propose 6 steps:

  1. Recognition of Reality. First we have to recognize the sinfulness in your own life. Are you aware of it? Can you name it? What triggers it?
  2. Impact of - and impact on – Relationships. This has three parts:
    1. Your sinfulness has an impact first on you. It makes you less than the person God has created you to be.
    2. You sinfulness has an impact on others as well.
    3. Your sinfulness needs the grace of THE relationship – with Christ !
  3. Repentance – saying sorry for your sins:
    1. First to yourself!
    2. Next, to God
  4. Reconcile-
    1. Having understood your own sinfulness and recognizing your need for God’s grace, you can accept forgiveness of yourself and forgiveness from God.
    2. You are now in a better place to understand the sinfulness of others, identify their sinfulness but also understand how difficult their struggles are.
    3. You are now in a better position to be able to reconcile yourself with God and with others.
  5. Repay – any damages that you might have caused if necessary.
  6. Recommit – yourself to your relationships to God and to others.


So, let’s apply Bradberry’s model to sin and forgiveness. The “recognition of reality” is the recognition of your own sinfulness.Once we see it, identify it and name it, we can ask for God’s grace to first forgive ourselves and then ask for God to help us “self-manage” to overcome our sinfulness through the life of virtue.

Not easy however.

Once we have done this in some capacity in our own lives, we will be in a position to not only identify sinfulness in others, we will hopefully also have the empathy to understand the struggle they are going through. Then, again with God’s grace, we will hopefully have the ability to forgive others as well (“relationship management”).

Ok, back to Monica. Given Augustine’s proclivities, people often ask how St. Monica possibly could have been so patient with her wayward son. Probably because she struggled with her own demons when she was young and probably still struggled with her own sinfulness throughout her entire life. In this way she was well aware of the struggles of her son and was in a better position to be able to prayer for him, wait for God’s grace to work in Augustine’s life and forgive her son as well.


Audio version of the homily is here:







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