ST. AGATHA was born in Sicily, of rich and noble parents—a child of benediction from the first, for she was promised to her parents before her birth, and consecrated from her earliest infancy to God. In the midst of dangers and temptations she served Christ in purity of body and soul, and she died for the love of chastity. Quintanus, who governed Sicily under the Emperor Decius, had heard the rumor of her beauty and wealth, and he made the laws against the Christians a pretext for summoning her from Palermo to Catania, where he was at the time. "O Jesus Christ!" she cried, as she set out on this dreaded journey, "all that I am is Thine; preserve me against the tyrant."
And Our Lord did indeed preserve one who had given herself so utterly to Him. He kept her pure and undefiled while she was imprisoned for a whole month under charge of an evil woman. He gave her strength to reply to the offer of her life and safety, if she would but consent to sin, "Christ alone is my life and my salvation." When Quintanus turned from passion to cruelty, and cut off her breasts, Our Lord sent the Prince of His apostles to heal her. And when, after she had been rolled naked upon potsherds, she asked that her torments might be ended, her Spouse heard her prayer and took her to Himself.
St. Agatha gave herself without reserve to Jesus Christ; she followed Him in virginal purity, and then looked to Him for protection. And down to this day Christ has shown His tender regard for the very body of St. Agatha. Again and again, during the eruptions of Mount Etna, the people of Catania have exposed her veil for public veneration, and found safety by this means; and in modern times, on opening the tomb in which her body lies waiting for the resurrection, they beheld the skin still entire, and felt the sweet fragrance which issued from this temple of the Holy Ghost.
Reflection. —Purity is a gift of God: we can gain it and preserve it only by care and diligence in avoiding all that may prove an incentive to sin.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany
Introit • Ps. 96, 7, 8
Adore God, all you His angels: Sion hear, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. Ps. 96, 1. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice: let many islands be glad. Glory be …
Keep Thy family, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with Thy continual mercy that, leaning only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, it may ever be defended by thy protection. Through our Lord.
Epistle • Col. 3, 12-17
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.
[He exhorts them to put off the old man, and to put on the new. The duties of wives and husbands, children and servants.]
Brethren, put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do ye things, do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gradual • Ps. 101, 16, 17
The Gentiles shall fear Thy name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory. For the Lord hath built up Sion, and He shall be seen in His majesty. Alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 96, 1. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice: let many islands be glad. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 13, 24-30
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[The parables of the sower and the cockle: of the mustard seed, etc.]
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes: The kingdom of Heaven is likened to a man that to a man that sowed good seeds in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.
And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle? And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? ]And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.
Offertory • Ps. 117, 16, 17
The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength, the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me: I shall not die, but live, and shall declare the works of the Lord.
We offer Thee, O Lord, the sacrifice of reconciliation, that Thou mayest mercifully forgive our sins and direct our wavering hearts. Through our Lord.
Communion • Luke 4, 22
They all wondered at these things, which proceeded from the mouth of God.
We pray Thee, O almighty God, that we may receive the effect of that salvation of which we have received the pledge in these mysteries. Through our Lord.