Sunday, January 22, 2012

St Agnes Lifts up our Hearts and our Standards

Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening, click here.
Here are the Mass Readings for the day.

Yesterday I met a whole bunch of twelve year olds.  They had just finished a kind of parish mission at their secondary school.  They were surprisingly astute and aware of the grace of God working in their lives.  I interviewed a few of them before Mass.  One said that she knew she needed more encounters with Jesus in the Sacrament in order to live her vocation.  Another said she needed more faith, another said that she needed more repentance, and many others said that they knew they were not living close enough to God or their parents in order to be the persons that God was calling them to be.

St Agnes was only twelve years old when she witnessed to Christ with the gift of her very life!  How many twelve year olds do we expect to become saints, not when they graduate from secondary school or university, or when they find faith on their own, but today, now?  I don't think we have very high standards for them.  It seems like they are treated like a nuisance, like something to discipline, like something to tolerate.  I am always reminded of martyrology of Lyons, France, when in the Diocletian persecution, the same one that took the life of St Agnes, it is recorded that a twelve year old girl would not burn incense to the gods and the prison guards tortured her.  Every time it seemed she felt the effects of the ill treatment she would cry out, "EGO SUM CHRISTIANUS!" (I am a Christian), and she would then receive a mysterious kind of strength.  The torturers were worn out after 36 hours of knives and fire, but the little girl remained resolute and full of a supernatural joy until the very end.

We need to learn from these 12 year old saints.  Firstly, that twelve year olds are called to be saints, not tomorrow, but right now.  Secondly, that the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, which are present in this realm of the senses to bring us to the realm of the mystery and imperceptible glory of Christ's hidden divinity, should never become routine or familiar in a way that keeps us from going beyond ourselves.

May the prayers of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, queen of martyrs, St Agnes, and all the Saints, inspire in us to respond generously to God's call.

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