Saint Of The Day For 5 February: Saint Agatha
The story of Saint Agatha guides us in discerning the evangelical counsel of chastity and virginity: let us delve into it
It is true: it hardly arouses interest to delve into the lives and deeds of women who seem so far removed from those of our generations.
Saint Agatha, as the story goes, lived in the remote 250s. Not bad!
Yet there are many points of contact between the social realities of the female world, even though whole centuries have passed.
So let us try to outline a cosmopolitan, modern Saint Agatha: a woman, in short, of Generation X, our generation.
The vow of virginity: St Agatha’s choice of consecration
The Dicastery for Consecrated Life sought, through the collaboration and participation of the entire Church of God, to reformulate the so-called ‘vows’.
In particular, it has opted for a new term in place of ‘vows’ with a notable difference in semantic nuance: evangelical counsel.
The evangelical counsel is a norm of conduct inferred from the reading and interpretation of the Good News.
To the extent that one distinguishes oneself by one’s characteristic lifestyle, any rules in the world, one then chooses one’s own way of ‘separating oneself’ from others (standing out), consecrating oneself, entering consecrated life.
Here is how St Agatha, a Sicilian saint, chose the path of Virginity
What is the difference between Chastity and Consecrated Virginity within the evangelical counsels?
There is no real difference.
Virginity, compared to Chastity, however, is a broader concept since one can always return to an interior Virginity.
Virginal love is as chaste as can be, given that:
– if it were hindered by the lust to possess, it would be converted to renunciation, educating the heart (the chastity of having)
– if he lacked a sense of modesty, re-conversion would have required a new baptismal purity. (the Chastity of being)
– if he had no prudence in his gaze nor in his words, he would defend himself from the assaults of the evil one by guarding his senses (the Chastity of feeling)
St Agatha of 250 chose consecrated virginity because, from the outset, she chose.
St Agatha of 2023, on the other hand, lives in a fast-paced, judgmental world where one does not always have the choice, one does not always make it in time.
But you can make up for it: you can always turn back from your mistakes, change your ways, follow your heart.
One becomes a virgin again: the genesis of creation is also the genesis of re-creation starting with ourselves above all.
You will understand that Chastity, as well as Virginity, can be lived, albeit differently, in married life.
It is not just a matter of religious choices!
Of the Martyrdom of Saint Agatha here is what is said
The first martyrs suffered violent tortures.
Today, it is easy to say that the martyr is he who bears witness.
Yesterday, instead, the martyr was he who died with the crucified, in the crucified and for the crucified.
St Agatha rejected her suitors and was condemned to die on hot coals.
Popular belief has it that this Sicilian saint is the protector against volcanic eruptions.
Let us be educated by the example of Saint Agatha!
Educare (ex-ducere) is a term meaning ‘to help bring forth’.
The Epiphany, the manifestation, the announcement begin to glimmer in a reason that no longer wants to exist.
And so we begin to experience new emotions, on roads that are perhaps ancient, but never old.
Education also knows how to roll the dice because it is willing to no longer reckon with what it no longer teaches us.
That flame shining in St Agatha’s is our glimmer of light because there will never be a blinding endless repetition of luminescence and truth.
There is always a unique and special return to our nature as women and men who will sometimes be able to rediscover the pure enchantment of a restless reason, of a paranoid, insolent and imperfect world.
And so, reconciled with the evil of the human, we gain, which is no small thing, the ability to challenge our bitterness.
But let us not be robbed of the hope that the world can truly be different.
And with the heart, the eyes, the mouth of St Agatha, let us try to walk the Christian way of Chastity and Consecrated Virginity.
Sister Ines Carlone Daughters of Mary Missionaries