Yesterday was the feast of Saint Agatha, patroness of bell ringers and bakers. Fr. Dwight had some lovely thoughts as he said Mass for a group including students.
I had often thought that these ancient virgin martyrs were a little bit irrelevant to our day and age. But this morning at 7am I celebrated her memorial by saying Mass at St Joseph's Catholic School. In the congregation were about thirty people including a good number of our Middle School and High School young people. Like St Agatha, they are struggling with all the battles of purity and chastity in an increasingly pagan, decadent and sexually rampant society.
I only had a moment to speak of St Agatha's life and sacrifice, but I suddenly knew that she was anything but irrelevant. Instead she fought the very same battles that the teenagers today are fighting. They may not face immediate martyrdom, but they face exclusion and ridicule should they stand up for chastity, sexual purity and the higher and more noble ideals that their faith offers them.
Yes, it's the battle of the day -- for parents, educators, and the kids -- to focus on something more noble than the immediate gratification of baser instincts. This effort has to counter the nearly ubiquitous references to flesh and desire in our culture.
Saint Agatha is also the patroness for those who suffer with breast cancer (good to know) and she endured her own suffering (having her breasts hacked off as a punishment for not giving herself to a pagan husband). Life has never been a cake walk for those who pursue virtue, and this dear girl could be a tremendous intercessor for those who need the graces in this day and age.