As in the case of Agnes, another virgin-martyr of the early Church, almost nothing is historically certain about this saint except that she was martyred in Sicily during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251.
Legend has it that Agatha, like Agnes, was arrested as a Christian, tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated, and was later put to death.
She is claimed as the patroness of both Palermo and Catania. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
The scientific modern mind winces at the thought of a volcano's might being contained by God because of the prayers of a Sicilian girl. Still less welcome, probably, is the notion of that saint being the patroness of such varied professions as those of foundry workers, nurses, miners and Alpine guides. Yet, in our historical precision, have we lost an essential human quality of wonder and poetry, and even our belief that we come to God by helping each other, both in action and prayer?
When Agatha was arrested, the legend says, she prayed: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things! You see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am—you alone. I am your sheep; make me worthy to overcome the devil." And in prison: "Lord, my creator, you have protected me since I was in the cradle. You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Now receive my spirit."
Patron Saint of:
Breast disease, against
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
The more we call on God
Lord grant me the grace
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?
The Word of God
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels. May I respond to your call today. Teach me to recognise your hand at work in my daily living.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
Where did this man get all this? ... Is he not the carpenter? (Mark 6:2, 3)
Though well-intentioned, the people of Nazareth seemed to have missed the new thing God had for them. Jesus had grown up in their village. They knew his parents and extended family. Surely they knew everything about Jesus already—or so they thought. So they dismissed what he was saying and doing, and in the process, they minimized what he could do in their midst. What a sad loss of an opportunity!
The thing is, though, that we, too, can become comfortable in the all too familiar setting of our parish Mass. We know how things are done, so we are tempted not to pay close attention. We can easily go through the motions of worship without engaging our minds and hearts. When this happens, it wouldn't be surprising if, like the Nazarenes, we lowered our expectations and ended up experiencing less than all God has in store for us.
If you find yourself in a situation like this—let's call it what it is: a rut—try something different. The next time you go to Mass, pretend that you have brought a guest with you, someone who has never been to church before. Look around with this person's fresh eyes. What strikes you?
Maybe you notice again how very few people sit in the front row. Maybe you wonder how your friend will know where to find the hymns. What is pictured in that stained-glass window? Why all the standing and kneeling? Questions like these can help you rediscover some treasures you had overlooked earlier.
An exercise like this can also become an occasion for the Spirit to invite you to a deeper faith. Paying close attention to the liturgy and the environment can help make your participation at Mass more conscious, active, and heartfelt. And that means that your encounter with the Lord at Mass will become more powerful and life-changing.
So put yourself in another person's shoes. See if it helps energize your appreciation of everything that God is doing at Mass. See, also, if it helps you become more actively engaged in worship. You never know how the Lord will work!
"Jesus, thank you for inviting me to come to your house of prayer week after week. Please open my eyes and my heart as I encounter you there."
2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17; Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7
David asked for forgiveness...yet there was still punishment. This notion is unthinkable to today's people who think "your saved" for saying Lord, Lord, and saying you believe, and I'm leading to the notion of purgatory. Because there is such a thing as God's mercy, and another as God's justice. In a confession, a priest is there as the person of Christ, or better said, Christ Himself, just as in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. We are forgiven, absolved of our sins, yet we are given a penance, something to do in reparation, a prayer, or an act, something as penance for reconciliation with the whole of the Church. And aside from this, there is still the whole of the Church that was affected by your sin. Case in point, David: Why did all the people have to suffer for his sin? He was forgiven, but they still paid the price of sin. Is this ridiculous? Is this notion too much to bear? Ok, let's put it this way. Imagine your sin is a book you wrote one time in your life. In it, it began rage and hatred for a group of people, the wave you started can not be stopped, all those people now have to pay for your sin. This is how bad sin is! We should pray for hatred OF SIN. Not to hate anybody ever, but hate the sin. Lately, I've had to deal with people that act with hostility towards me. This is a hard lesson to learn, but it is true; most often those people hating on me, disrespecting me, and making me stress, most often they are the most in need of prayer. In comes the Holy Gospel of today. People acted with hostility towards Jesus, they took offense at Him. He saw their lack of faith, and because of THEIR lack of faith, He couldn't do much with them. This rejection of God is sin. We think we got people figured out, and they had Jesus figured out, some guy that grew up down the street, now saying all these wise things, "we know who he is, why is he doing all this commotion in our town, even saying He is the Son of God?". This is bad, and how? Because we think we got this god thing figured out. I ran into some website on bible answers or questions and the guy answered questions about the catholics beliefs in Mary, and within just a few paragraphs he gave all the answers; she was not an immaculate conception, she had brothers and sisters, she wasn't a virgin, and the hideous ignorant questions were all spelled out, all figured out in a nutshell...next question? Whereas a Catholic true answer is one of hundreds of books, tons of saints, doctrines and theology explaining the holiness of the Mother of God. But, we got it all figured out right? We don't need church on Sunday, right? We don't need to fight to be holy right? We don't need all the "traditions" of the catholics right? We don't need to hear "I forgive you" from the stance of Christ in representation of the Church right? Sure we may not NEED it, but it more than helps get to Heaven and Lord knows we need all the help we can get and we are speaking of God's Grace. Sin has an attractive face and an ugly interior. The sins paid for in purgatory are of God's justice. We don't fly straight to Heaven, although some have and will, but not all. We don't fly straight to some lazy boy chair in the clouds from your lazy boy at home. It takes a concerted effort, to be open to God's grace. Not by our merits will we enter, but by His grace, and I'm speaking of being disposable to Holiness. So next time you think you have that "so and so" figured out, think again. This is probably the culmination of many past emails, the lesson to learn and take to heart...there is more than meets the eye, and more to meet the heart. That connection that is failing is a disconnect from the Holiness of God. How do we reconnect? Through prayer, and through Him. Instead of being offended, take the pill that is hard to swallow...humility. The meek shall inherit the earth. Not the proud. Not the powerful. Not the mighty in the world. No, God's people will inherit and win. I'm speaking as a living testimony of the facts just said, not making things up as we go. We may be going through tough times, the roughest of times, and this is where we have to look beyond what is going on and the beauty that is trying to come out from within, the face of God, the facing of truth, and the reality that will carry us through this world and beyond. How soon we forget, this world is not the end...