Jan 21st - Agnes
The idea of virginity - in anything - is often the fodder for scorn. Virginity implies naivete, that one is out of step with the cognoscenti around them, but I perceive that subconsciously it is scorned first because of the concept that one denies oneself some thing in order to focus on another and second because of regret for the loss of one's own innocence.
And yet, for all the scorn, we value the innocence that goes with it. This juxtaposition of thinking comes because we pigeon-hole truths away from each other. Sex and sexuality, prudence and temperance, are on the one hand not something we should "deny" and on the other are also not something that should be taken lightly. They are part of the whole person. Purity of heart, devotion to Christ: these are really the things that define us - even more than our physical and emotional appetites - and the guide of them as well.
Living for God is not some super-human feat, but is a truly human feat. We make it seem hard because of our own fears, weaknesses, and failings. The stories of the saints, especially the early martyrs, inspire us but should not intimidate us. That thinking is the temptation of sin, the devil whispering in our ear. We all die, but we fear dying for the right thing and willingly cling to life for the wrong thing. Let us be, as Paul reminds us, free from the fear of death and living for Christ. (cf. Galatians 2:19-20)
Agnes died, and now lives, not because she was naive, but because she had both eyes open. Sin tells us that our eyes are open to the truth but they are really closed to the Truth. "Pay attention to this, you foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes and do not see, who have ears and do not hear." (Jeremiah 5:21)
Because of the stories surrounding her martyrdom, Agnes is the patron of rape victims. The rage of the blind and sinful against the innocent should always be a concern for us because a simple joy for life, especially on in Christ, should never be the cause for scorn.
To the clean all things are clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean; in fact, both their minds and their consciences are tainted. ...For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another.
-- Titus 1:15; 3:3
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