FR. MICHAEL says…………..
The second half of January has some interesting feast days that are worth looking at in a closer light.
This Wednesday is the feast of St. Agnes, a very young woman - barely a teenager - who died for her faith in the third century. We know very little about St. Agnes’ life or death, but a traditional story has it that she refused to marry a man who then turned her in to the authorities for being a Christian.
I had a surprise encounter with this inspiring young saint when I visited Rome shortly after being ordained. While exploring the Piazza Navona, I went into a church named in St. Agnes’ honor and, in a side chapel, suddenly found myself face to face with her skull.
What struck me was how small it was. She was truly a very young woman. When we face difficulties because of our faith in Jesus, we should think of saints like Agnes who gave everything at such a young age.
On January 25th, the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul.
While every conversion is important - "I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:7) - the conversion of St. Paul had a profound effect on the early Church and still touches our lives today.
St. Paul went from being a persecutor of the Church to becoming one of its greatest ambassadors - and it all came from a miraculous encounter with the risen Jesus. The Lord called Paul from his way of life and sent him out into the world to proclaim the Gospel, something all of us are called to do.
One other saint we commemorate in January is one of the most important theologians of all Church history, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Thomas’ parents sent him to a Benedictine monastery at a young age with the hope that he would one day become the abbot, but he found himself attracted the Dominican order, a religious community that lived a simpler life of preaching. Despite his family’s attempts at stopping him (his brother kept him imprisoned for over a year), Thomas joined the Dominicans and, after finishing his studies, spent his life teaching and writing about the faith. St. Thomas’ greatest work is the Summa Theologiae, an attempt to discuss the whole of Catholic teaching, one that he never finished. When asked why he stopped his work, Thomas replied, “I cannot go on … All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.”
The saints of our Church are always powerful examples for us in living the faith, but, even more than that, they pray for us now. Let us always remember their stories and ask for their help.
THANK YOU! To all those who helped to “de-decorate” our churches after the last masses last Sunday. It is true that many hands make light the work because everything was finished in a very timely manner.
OUR NEXT FAITH & DISCUSSION NIGHT:: will take place this Thursday (1/21) at 7pm, at Blessed Sacrament.