January 21, 2009

Saint Agnes's Zeal for Christ was No Teenage Crush

Today is January 21st, the feast day of St. Agnes, the Roman teenage virgin-martyr who, as tradition tells us, refused marriage proposals claiming she was betrothed to none other than Christ. She was young, beautiful, pure, born of a rich family, and even at the young age of 14, totally surrendered to the Lord. Because this was during the time when Christians in Rome were being persecuted, fed to lions, and publicly executed, all these spurned suitors decided if they couldn't have her, then no one could. She was reported to the authorities who threw her into a brothel to torture her. But no man dared approach her. Her purity was too awesome. And her faith throughout it all so totally different. Irritated, the Roman governor had her executed. And even then she encouraged her tormentors to finish the job as she despised the physical beauty she possessed that made the Roman suitors lust after her.

  • She could have had her pick of any of the young influential suitors that were hounding her door and married into a powerful family and even multiplied her family's wealth, had she been looking for earthly power or earthly possessions. But she was not.

  • She could have had any of the handsome, probably muscular, young men as husbands had she been looking for mere earthly pleasure. But she was not.

  • She could have stayed quiet about her Christian convictions, and hidden it from people and stayed safe, and stayed alive, had she been looking for earthly security. But again, she was not.

Instead, she loved Christ the only way she knew how: vibrantly, loudly, boldly, purely. This was no fragile teenage crush, no infatuation with a teen idol, no puppy love that would fade after a season. This was a love that allowed a teenager to face torture and death fearlessly because it was focused totally on the God who became man, on the God who died on a cross for our sins, on the God who by His death and resurrection promises us life beyond this earthly life.

This was true fervor and zeal, proclaimed boldly, proclaimed unto death.

St. Agnes, pray for the youth of today, that they may be strong against temptation and keep their eyes and hearts focused on our Lord Jesus who gives us the strength and the grace to face all tribulation boldly.

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