Maggie Green’s book, “The Saint Monica Club: How to Wait, Hope, and Pray for Your Fallen-Away Loved Ones”, is one of those books you hope you never need, but if you ever do, you’re grateful it’s there. Every Catholic parent I know, who’s raised their children in the faith, shares a common fear: that their son or daughter will walk away from the Church. Not all do, but as statistics bear out, many do. Not all come back, and is the source of deep heartbreak for many a father and mother.
This isn’t a “How To” book in the typical sense. It isn’t a trope-y ‘step-by-step process’, or a ‘can’t-miss-guarantee-of-100%-success’. Maggie acknowledges we’re dealing with real people with real free will, and any attempts to drag them back to the Church will be met with double the resistance. Still, she lays out a roadmap, or perhaps a blueprint – and none better than Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, as our model. As I wrote at Amazon:
“Using Saint Monica as the pre-eminent witness of perseverence, hope, and steadfast charity, the author presents short reflections in each chapter on weathering the storm – always keeping focus on Christ, His Church, His holy Mother Mary, and the sacraments.”
Maggie doesn’t sugarcoat the pain and frustration parents suffer when a loved one leaves the Church – for whatever reason. Neither does she guarantee that persevering will produce the results prayed for – at least in one’s lifetime, anyway. Nonetheless, she shows that by remaining hopeful, consistent, and being a loving witness is more than enough for God to soften the heart of the prodigal child, while at the same time, not hardening one’s own heart at the loved one’s rejection.
The chapters are short, concise, and pragmatic. She writes from personal experience, and it clearly shows, but without maudlin or self-pity. It IS painful seeing a loved one having chosen to abandon the Church – but no one is beyond hope or help. Maggie consistently reminds the reader that conversion is the response to grace – theirs and ours. So flood them with grace.
I concluded my review this way:
“I can see this book becoming a valuable parish resource for families struggling with a child’s rejection, and finding strength and encouragement with others undergoing the same or similar situation.”
I highly recommend this book – we all know someone who has walked away from Jesus and the Church. It is a good resource to have on hand – either for our own situation, or for those of our family and friends. We hope it never happens, but it’s prudent to be prepared.
(I was asked by the author to read and review “The Saint Monica Club”. Sophia Institute Press did not provide me a copy, nor was I compensated for this review)