ST. AGNES was but twelve years old when she was led to the altar of Minerva at Rome and commanded to obey the persecuting laws of Diocletian by offering incense. In the midst of the idolatrous rites she raised her hands to Christ, her Spouse, and made the sign of the life-giving cross. She did not shrink when she was bound hand and foot, though the gyves slipped from her young hands, and the heathens who stood around were moved to tears. The bonds were not needed for her, and she hastened gladly to the place of her torture. Next, when the judge saw that pain had no terrors for her, he inflicted an insult worse than death: her clothes were stripped off, and she had to stand in the street before a pagan crowd; yet even this did not daunt her. "Christ," she said, "will guard His own." So it was. Christ showed, by a miracle, the value which He sets upon the custody of the eyes. Whilst the crowd turned away their eyes from the spouse of Christ, as she stood exposed to view in the street, there was one young man who dared to gaze at the innocent child with immodest eyes. A flash of light struck him blind, and his companions bore him away half dead with pain and terror.
Lastly, her fidelity to Christ was proved by flattery and offers of marriage. But she answered, "Christ is my Spouse: He chose me first, and His I will be." At length the sentence of death was passed. For a moment she stood erect in prayer, and then bowed her neck to the sword. At one stroke her head was severed from her body, and the angels bore her pure soul to Paradise.
Reflection. —Her innocence endeared St. Agnes to Christ, as it has endeared her to His Church ever since. Even as penitents we may imitate this innocence of hers in our own degree. Let us strictly guard our eyes, and Christ, when He sees that we keep our hearts pure for love of Him, will renew our youth and give us back the years which the canker-worm has wasted.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Introit • Ps. 118, 95, 96
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: I have understood Thy testimonies, O Lord: I have seen an end of all perfection. Thy commandment is exceedingly broad. Ps. 95, 1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory be …
Almighty, eternal God, Who dost choose the weak things of the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant that we, who venerate the festival of blessed Agnes, Thy virgin and martyr, may experience the benefit of her patronal influence with Thee. Through our Lord.
Epistle • Ecclus. 51, 1-12
Lesson from the book of Wisdom.
[A prayer of praise and thanksgiving.]
I will give glory to thee, O Lord, O King, and I will praise thee, O God my Saviour. I will give glory to thy name: for thou hast been a helper and protector to me. And hast preserved my body from destruction, from the snare of an unjust tongue, and from the lips of them that forge lies, and in the sight of them that stood by, thou hast been my helper. And thou hast delivered me, according to the multitude of the mercy of thy name, from them that did roar, prepared to devour. Out of the hands of them that sought my life, and from the gates of afflictions, which compassed me about:
From the oppression of the flame which surrounded me, and in the midst of the fire I was not burnt. From the depth of the belly of hell, and from an unclean tongue, and from lying words, from an unjust king, and from a slanderous tongue: My soul shall praise the Lord even to death. And my life was drawing near to hell beneath. They compassed me on every side, and there was no one that would help me. I looked for the succour of men, and there was none. I remembered thy mercy, O Lord, and thy works, which are from the beginning of the world. How thou deliverest them that wait for thee, O Lord, and savest them out of the hands of the nations.
Gradual • Ps. 44, 3
Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee forever. Ps. 44, 5. Because of truth, and meekness, and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.
Alleluia, alleluia. Matt. 25, 4, 6. The five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with the lamps; but at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet Christ our Lord. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 25, 1-13
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[The parable of the ten virgins and of the talents. The description of the last judgment.]
At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish, and five wise. But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Now whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut.
But at last come also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.
Offertory • Ps. 44, 8, 5
After her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to Thee with gladness and rejoicing; thy shall be brought into the temple to the King our Lord.
Graciously receive, O Lord, the sacrifices we offer Thee, and, by the intercession of blessed Agnes, Thy virgin and martyr, loose the bonds of our sins. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 25, 4, 6
The five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with lamps: but at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet Christ our Lord.
Regaled with heavenly food and drink, we humbly beech Thee, O Lord our God, that we may be fortified by the prayers of her in whose commemoration we have partaken of them. Through our Lord.