St. Agnes was an early Roman martyr of the Church. Scholars estimate the year of her death around 304 A.D. She was purportedly 13 years old when she died. For a 13-year old to be executed for her faith speaks to her perseverance amidst adversity. Agnes was a beautiful woman who attracted the attention of male suitors from Roman patrician families. Her commitment to her faith led her to dedicate herself to chaste celibacy. Suitors frustrated with her celibacy turned her into the local Roman prefect for being a Christian. According to legend, the Roman prefect ordered Agnes to stay in a house for prostitution, but the Lord protected her there. She was eventually executed after multiple attempts. She is the patroness of young girls, chastity, and rape victims.
If Agnes had friends, they could have regarded her as crazy as Jesus’ relatives regarded him. She had multiple occasions where she could have done what others would have wanted her to do. Marrying one of her suitors would have protected her from imperial authority, and she probably would have been allowed her to live her faith for the rest of her life. Instead, she chose the path that was unintelligible to more pragmatically-minded people, even to us of faith.
Agnes life reminds us that Jesus calls us at times to decisions that clash with the worldly values. Freedom from leaning towards what we think is the sensible decision allows us to seek God’s will first. In order to follow Jesus as he desires, we need an interior freedom to let God lead us. We profit from talking to others about what God is asking of us to give in love. Also, we seek consolation and confirmation for the important decisions that compromise our lives as disciples. Agnes offers us a model of what holiness rooted in freedom looks like. Her life ended for her faith because of her freedom to give her whole self back to God. We are asked to die to ourselves daily in ways that others might think makes no sense. It might be a sign of the growth of our faith and trust in the Lord’s care.
In what way does your life only make sense because of your faith in Jesus?