For those who don’t know, my full name is a long one. I’m Filipino. Long names come with the territory. My first name is Ann Mary, but I go by my middle name “Monique.” This often leads to people calling me “Monica” by mistake. Whenever that happened, I wouldn’t mind. After all, I chose Monica as my Confirmation name. Now unlike my brother and other high school kids, I didn’t choose my Confirmation name after researching the saints. In spite of the fact that I went to Catholic School, I didn’t really get to know the saints outside of information cards and the childish renditions in those books where the saints looked like movie stars. You know the ones. I chose Monica as my Confirmation name out of convenience, not really putting a lot of thought into it.
And yet I still care about what people call me. I don’t mind being mistakenly called Monica, but “Ann Mary” or “Mary Ann” as some may mistakenly say never sounded right to me. I also didn’t like being called “Momo” by some bullies back in high school nor did I like it when someone thought a different name would be better for me than the one I already had.
The name “Monica” means “advisor” and the story of St. Monica shows her trying to advise her son, Saint Augustine, but ultimately she surrendered herself and her son to God in the hopes that Augustine would reform. And reform he did. In my personal life, I do give advice to my friends who ask and I offer to help my friends out with their problems. I also tend to have an “advice column” kind of voice when I write my Bible studies and sometimes on this blog as well.
I don’t ask for St. Monica’s intercession as often as I should, but I feel like the saint whose name I share is still a part of me. Like Monica, I am devoted to my faith and long for the return of my fallen brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m also learning that when you share your faith openly, you will be met with some hostility, but for the most part, people don’t mind as long as it comes from a personal level and not like the Westboro Baptist Church.
I hope that I grow to have Saint Monica’s perseverance and undying trust in God as I get older. And the next time someone calls me “Monica,” I will still correct them, but still feel happy that my name is linked with a woman like her.