Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feast of St. Agatha!

Feast of St Agatha

St. Agatha was born in Sicily into a wealthy family. As an infant St. Agatha's parents dedicated her to Christ. For all her life she served God well and was always ready to die for the love of Him. St. Agnes was arrested by an evil Roman named Quintanus because she was a Catholic, but also because he wanted her to marry him. Agatha would never marry him because she was dedicated to Christ.

"O Jesus Christ" she cried as she set off on the journey to the prison, " All that I am is Thine; preserve me from this tyrant".

And Our Lord did preserve her. Even though Agatha was in the care of an evil person, she stayed pure and good while in prison. God gave her strength to stay firm and not fall into temptation when Quintanus offered her safety in exchange for sin.

Quintanus lost patience and sent Agatha to the torturers, but she never lost her faith in God. After being cut up and rolled over broken pottery, Agatha prayed for God to take her to Heaven, which He did.

St. Agatha is an incorruptible.
She is the patron saint of nurses and breast cancer patients.

~ by Theresa 
Written by Theresa (now a tenth grader) when she was eleven years old.

St. Agatha, like so many of the early martyrs, reminds us of the importance of purity!  True Faith has so often been tied up with the protection of this virtue; it's a treasure closely guarded by the saints, but, boy oh boy, is this a neglected virtue in our day! Worse than neglected, it's practically been stomped into the dust.  But what can we do?  

This lovely statue can be found at
this German church
We trouble over this often at our house.  Especially now that we live in Las Vegas where custody of the eyes is so important.  Scandalous billboards -- and scandalously dressed people -- are everywhere here!  But the fight is nothing new.  We have four daughters and six sons to teach and protect, and even when we lived in "backwater" country, the topics of modesty and purity were much in our minds. They've had to be, as the world has so often forced it into our lives. Let's be real.  Unless you live on a desert island with no wifi, no television signal, and no other people, you'll be subject to temptations against purity.  It has to be guarded against; we have to purposely and pointedly teach our children to protect themselves. But it's like teaching brand new recruits how to shoot a rifle for the first time --  in the middle of combat.

What a world we live in!  But we can fight against it and win.

In our own little day-to-day world right now (with only two boys and two girls of the gang still living at home), we instruct on purity and modesty practically every day!  In a subtle kind of way, mind you.  When the children come down dressed for school, we have an informal (smiling!) praise and "correction" session.  We comment on colors and styles and what sweaters look especially good with which skirts -- and whether or not a modest tee needs to be added under a scooping neckline, or a skirt retired because it's getting too short.  That's the girls, of course. The little boys are a different story...  At this stage, they mainly need to be reminded not to wear pajamas all day and to change their socks occasionally.  Bless their sweet slobbish little hearts. ( If only our worries would stay so small!)

But, what can we do about the dismal "bigger picture" we all see in the world?  It can be depressing looking out on it, but we can be proactive in the wider world, too.  

Whenever I can, especially on the feast day of saints who especially espouse the virtues of purity and modesty, I try to post something on my blog and/or on facebook regarding the saint of the day and his/her example of purity.  Not that this has any kind of earth-shattering influence, mind you! (My readership is teensy weensy.) But, it does bring the importance of these virtues to the top of my mind, anyway, and the hope is that it'll spur good thoughts for someone else, perhaps. But our most important and effective efforts to affect the world can be made under our own roofs:
* Always first and foremost: Pray!  * Be a good example!  * Avoid the television programs, movies, books, and periodicals that glorify immorality through immodesty and the acceptance of immoral lifestyles. *  Avoid places where you know you will be assaulted by improper dress and behavior (the Las Vegas Strip and most Southern California beaches are a great example of places to avoid!) * Teach your children to avoid these places and things.  * Explain why you do so. *  Dress in a way that you would not be embarrassed for the Holy Family to see, whether you're a man or a woman, boy or girl! * Cultivate an understanding of the sanctity of marriage and the proper structure of a Catholic family within your own family and sphere of influence -- gently but firmly.  * Then pray some more that the whole world figures this stuff out. 

I know that I'm preaching to the choir here (if anyone's reading this at all, besides my husband), but it can't be repeated enough how we've been warned, admonished, entreated, and instructed to behave and dress in a way to preserve purity.  It's important! Our Lady at Fatima warned us at Fatima in 1917  that we would be punished if our society didn't refrain from certain styles of dress.  She told Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, 

 "Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much."  

The first question is, of course, what kind of dress, right?  With the understanding that common sense is not common in any day or age, you can be sure that the Church has stepped in to help, reiterating the Blessed Mother's warning, and adding specifics.  St. Pius XI was very clear about what kind of clothing is offensive:

Pope Piux XI, Chair of Peter
"A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees.  Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper."

And he adds:

 "Let parents keep their daughters away from public gymnastic games and contests; but, if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see to it that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb." 
The Cardinal Vicar of  Pius XI, Jan.12, 1930

"Ouch!"  I can hear folks everywhere wincing -- or worse -- at this warning.  For goodness' sake, should our daughters be deprived of athletics, then?  No.  The pope didn't say that.  He just wants them to dress properly -- and he wants us to avoid attending events where inappropriate attire is worn by others.  Unfortunately, this will include a lot of places we might want to go, and may well interfere with sports we girls may want to play...  But, Pope Piux XII addresses this point exactly, as follows:

Pope Piux XII, Chair of Peter
"The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.  O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making of yourselves, the harm which you are causing these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians."
Pope Pius XII to Catholic Young Women's Groups of Italy

This same pope goes on to explain that not every new fashion is condemnable just because it's either new or considered fashionable:

"The Church, on the contrary, does not censure or condemn styles when they are meant for the proper decorum and ornamentation of the body, but She never fails to warn the faithful against being easily led astray by them.

"This positive attitude of the Church derives from reasons far higher than the mere aesthetic or hedonistic considerations which have been assumed by a renewed paganism. The Church knows and teaches that the human body, which is God's masterpiece in the visible world, and which has been placed at the service of the soul, was elevated by the Divine Redeemer to the rank of a temple and an instrument of the Holy Spirit, and as such must be respected. The body's beauty must therefore not be exalted as an end in itself, much less in such guise as will defile the dignity it has been endowed with."
Pope Piux XII from the same address quoted above 
Imprimatur dated Sept. 24, 1956

 If anyone you know is of the opinion that these standards are outdated, and should be changed to be in keeping with the times, Pope Pius XII addresses that very point here:

"It is always difficult to indicate with universal norms the borderline between seemliness and shamelessness because the moral evaluation of attire depends on many factors. However, the so-called relativity of fashions with respect to times, places, persons, and education is not a valid reason to renounce a priori a moral judgment on this or that fashion which, for the time being, violates the limits of normal decency. Here, as elsewhere, greater sensitivity to this warning against the snares of evil, far from being grounds for criticizing those who possess it, as though it were a sign of interior depravity , is actually a mark of an upright soul and of watchfulness over the passions. Yet, no matter how broad and changeable the relative moral of styles may be, there is always an absolute norm to be kept, after having heard the admonition of conscience against approaching danger: style must never be a proximate occasion of sin."

When styles were introduced that seemed fulfillments of the Blessed Mother's prophecies in 
Fatima, these two popes immediately weighed in.  There was no question in the church at that time what fashions were offensive to Our Lord -- as well as what behaviors sinned against purity, but the Church laid out the rules for us who might not be so sure.  In the tumultuous ocean of the world, the Church was still the anchor of morality.  

Unfortunately, in these years since the Popes Piuses, especially following Vatican II, all the warnings seem to have been forgotten, trampled in the dust.  The world, the flesh and the devil have been very busy making sure we all forget about them, or relegate them to a back closet of our minds, marked "outdated."  So very sad!  So very dangerous for our souls!  The martyrs who died for love of purity must be looking down at us from Heaven with averted eyes most of the time!    It's a sad time to live, a hard time to raise children to save their souls.  But we can do it!  And we will.  With the help of God, our pure and beautiful Mother in heaven -- and with the intercession of saints like St. Agatha, we can do anything!

*  For a very reasonable and well researched article on modesty (including the dreaded "pants" issue!), run over to Fish Eaters.

*  Some of the words of the saints regarding modesty and purity here.

*  A very complete and well-thought-out treatise full of documentation, quotes, and common sense (among many things, discussing the "changing times" argument) can be found here at Catholic Apologetics.

*  Thoughts of a young man in his twenties regarding this subject can be found here. 

*  Common sense thoughts of our pious bishop here.
A beautiful coloring page of St. Agatha!  Just click and print.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thank Almighty God and Our Most Pure Blessed Mother that I was suddenly inspired to look at your blog site Reading the encyclical quotes from Our Holy Fathers of the last century certainly and plainly explain the importance of Modesty and Purity and how very deeply the world has since plunged into the depths of sin; mainly due to the modernism that so rampant has crept into the world. I pray that some soul is at least inspired to the restoration of Holy Purity into their lives and of the world. It has mine.
Virgin Mary Most Pure. Pray for us
God bless you and your family