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Daily Reading

Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

Reading 1 1 Sm 16:1-13

The LORD said to Samuel:
“How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
But Samuel replied:
“How can I go?
Saul will hear of it and kill me.”
To this the LORD answered:
“Take a heifer along and say,
‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do;
you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him.
When he entered Bethlehem,
the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired,
“Is your visit peaceful, O seer?”
He replied:
“Yes!  I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.
So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.”
He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves
and invited them to the sacrifice.
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, “The LORD has not chosen him.”
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
“The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There–anoint him, for this is he!”  
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm 89:20, 21-22, 27-28

R.    (21a)  I  have found David, my servant.
Once you spoke in a vision,
and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
over the people I have set a youth.”
R.    I  have found David, my servant.
“I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong.”
R.    I  have found David, my servant.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
And I will make him the first-born,
highest of the kings of the earth.”
R.    I  have found David, my servant.

Alleluia Eph Eph 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

 

For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Agnes, please go here.

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Saint of the Day

St. Agnes

On Jan. 21, the Roman Catholic Church honors the virgin and martyr St. Agnes, who suffered death for her consecration to Christ.

Although the details of Agnes’ life are mostly unknown, the story of her martyrdom has been passed on with reverence since the fourth century. On the feast day of the young martyr – whose name means “lambâ€� in Latin – the Pope traditionally blesses lambs, whose wool will be used to make the white pallium worn by archbishops.

Born into a wealthy family during the last decade of the third century, Agnes lived in Rome during the last major persecution of the early Church under the Emperor Diocletian. Though he was lenient toward believers for much of his rule, Diocletian changed course in 302, resolving to wipe out the Church in the empire.

Agnes came of age as the Church was beginning to suffer under a set of new laws decreed by Diocletian, and his co-ruler Galerius, in 303. The emperor and his subordinate called for churches to be destroyed and their books burned. Subsequent orders led to the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons, for the sake of compelling them to worship the emperor instead of Christ.

Meanwhile, Agnes had become a young woman of great beauty and charm, drawing the attention of suitors from the first ranks of the Roman aristocracy. But in keeping with the words of Christ and Saint Paul, she had already decided on a life of celibacy for the sake of God’s kingdom. To all interested men, she explained that she had already promised herself to a heavenly and unseen spouse.

These suitors both understood Agnes’ meaning, and resented her resolution. Some of the men, possibly looking to change her mind, reported her to the state as a believer in Christ. Agnes was brought before a judge who tried first to persuade her, and then to threaten her, into renouncing her choice not to marry for the Lord’s sake.

When the judge showed her the various punishments he could inflict – including fire, iron hooks, or the rack that destroyed the limbs by stretching – Agnes smiled and indicated she would suffer them willingly. But she was brought before a pagan altar instead, and asked to make an act of worship in accordance with the Roman state religion.

When Agnes refused, the judge ordered that she should be sent to a house of prostitution, where the virginity she had offered to God would be violated. Agnes predicted that God would not allow this to occur, and her statement proved true. Legends say that the first man to approach her in the brothel was struck blind by a sudden flash of light, and others opted not to repeat his mistake.

But one of the men who had at first sought to make Agnes his own, now lobbied the judge for her execution. In this respect, the suitor obtained his desire, when the public official sentenced her to die by beheading. The executioner gave her one last chance to spare her life, by renouncing her consecration to Christ – but Agnes refused, made a short prayer, and courageously submitted to death.

St. Agnes, who died in 304, was venerated as a holy martyr from the fourth century onward. She is mentioned in the Latin Church’s most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.

 

Daily Inspiration

Personal Romance

Today we remember St. Agnes, a martyr for the faith back in the 300s. She devoted her life to Christ, set apart for him alone, and thus she refused men who pursued her for marriage. Due to outrage at her refusal, she was killed for being a Christian. God protected her throughout her life, including the trials she faced before her martyrdom. God loved her perfectly, and He loves each of us perfectly.

The other day our parish priest said that Catholics everywhere would fall in love with Jesus truly if they realized the perfect love He has for us, how He is always waiting in the tabernacle for us. If we truly pray and meditate upon the love of God and what that really means, we would never be able to miss Mass or put other agendas as a higher priority than our relationship with Christ. This made me reflect upon my relationship with Christ even further and how if I am to follow Him truly, then He must become Lord of my life beyond the words I say – I must show this in my daily actions.

Do I attend a weekly holy hour? John Paul II, during his pontificate, asked that the Faithful attend a weekly holy hour. He would visit Jesus multiple times daily. This statement alone is so hard for me to picture. While I know he was pope and had the ability to visit Jesus often, his schedule was very busy, beyond many of the days I think I am busy. He would visit towns, and if there was an adoration chapel, he would pause his entire schedule to go make time to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer.

Do we have a devotion to Christ, like St. Agnes, a true romance? Do we faithfully find time to spend with Jesus in our local parish each week (or even once a month)? My challenge to you and me is to find a time to go sit with Jesus this week. Even if we just sit with Him for five minutes, we will be joining in the mission to satisfy His thirst for souls. He longs for you and me – this is personal and not just a fluffy story. His love is real; just like His true presence in the Eucharist is real. Let us increase our devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament more than we ever have.

“When you approach the tabernacle, remember that He has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”
-St. Josemaria Escriva

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Nathalie Shultz is a joyful convert to the Catholic faith and a competitive swimmer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  She loves to share her passion for Catholicism with others, including her conversion story and how God continues to work miracles in her life through her OCD. She is the Director of Religious Education for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative of parishes. Nathalie is married to her best friend, Tommy Shultz. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  She is also a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at rodzinkaministry@gmail.com.