The Church gives us the saints that we may imitate their faith. Many christians in early times died violent deaths, preceded by horrific tortures. Christians in some parts of the world today continue to die as martyrs.
Women defended their virginity and chasity unto such deaths. St. Agatha, whose name is in the Roman Canon, is one such example. She is often portrayed with her breasts on a plate because, as legend has it, she had them cut off on the order of a senator to whom she refused to give herself in exchange for freedom. Legend also has it that St. Peter appeared to her, and she was healed. The tortures continued as she was put on a bed of hot coals where she begged Christ to end her misery, and he took her to Himself.
Stories like this, along with those of more modern day saints who defended themselves against impurity, like the young St. Maria Goretti, should make us pause and ponder: To what length am I willing to go to defend my own purity?
Unlike these courageous women, it is not a tortuous tyrant with whom we must contend, but our own passions and wilful ignorance. In our sex-saturated society today, we can be our own worst enemy by not taking the time to inform ourselves of God's laws. How many Catholics today do not take the time to learn their faith so that they may lift the veil of ignorance on what is pleasing and displeasing to God?
We take a casual attitude toward's what we watch on television or see on the internet, and activities we engage in. Many choose freely to disregard the 10 Commandments which forbid fornication and adultery (contrary to popular belief, Vatican II did not do away with the 10 Commandments). Cohabitation is common among today's Christians, including Catholics. Priests who fail to teach these things from pulpit will someday stand before the Just Judge to account for this lapse. The apostles died a heroic death teaching and preaching the truths of the faith.
Stand up to impurity, but guarding your own. Do not yield to desires of the flesh, but to desires which please God unto death. For most of us this death is that of a white martyrdom - a life led in heroic virtue in which we sacrfiice worldly desires for the love of God.
St. Agatha, pray for us.
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