FEAST OF ST. AGATHA
Psalm 27, verse 3:
Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not FEAR; Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.
In a purer sense an army does encamp against every follower of Christ; it is the army of the devil and those under his flag in this world. They do wage a war against us, and our only hope is to trust in Christ. If we trust all we need say for God’s help is three simple words: “Come Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit coming to sinful men is what Holy week is all about. It is what Christ’s sacrifice was all about. Mary of Medjugorje tells us that, “The most important thing is to pray to the Holy Spirit” Because if one has the Spirit “one has everything.
Therefore, when the spirit convicts you of an action do not hesitate. Don’t be like the unfaithful servant, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
1733 The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin."
First Friday Devotion
Nine consecutive Fridays in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque (1647-1690), a French nun in the Visitation Order, and gave her the special task to spread devotion to His Most Sacred Heart at a time when religion was growing cold in the hearts of mankind. He said to her:
“Behold this heart which, not withstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude, even in the sacrament of my love [the Eucharist]. But what pierces my heart most deeply is that I am subjected to these insults by persons especially consecrated to my service.” Jesus asked for special prayers and practices to make amends (reparation) for this great neglect to the proper reverence owed to God. For those who did this faithfully, he made what St. Margaret Mary referred to as the “Great Promise” which was the last and greatest of the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“I promise you in the unfathomable mercy of my heart that my omnipotent love will procure the grace of final penitence for all those who receive communion on nine successive first Fridays of the month; they will not die in my disfavor [the grace of final repentance], or without having received the sacraments, since my divine heart will be their sure refuge in the last moments of their life.”
Conditions to Fulfill the First Friday Devotion
The specific conditions to receive the Great Promise of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are:
1. Receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays of the month (this assumes that the person is in a state of grace, having made a sacramental confession for any mortal sins prior to receiving communion).
2. Having the intention, at least implicitly, of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the sinfulness and ingratitude of men.
FEAST of Saint AGATHA
Agatha came from, Catania, a city in Sicily. I was stationed there while in the Navy and lived in a small town of Nicolosi which was situated on the Volcano (Etna) near the city of Catania. I was impressed and formed as a young man by the faith and beauty of the people of Sicily.
Agatha was born in Sicily and died there a martyr. She belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested and brought before the judge - - himself. He expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God by praying: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil." Quintian imprisoned her in a brothel in order to get her to change her mind.
He brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation in the brothel, but Agatha had never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. Quintian sent her to prison, instead of back to the brothel -- a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her. When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, He had her tortured. He refused her any medical care, but God gave her all the care she needed in the form of a vision of St. Peter. When she was tortured again, she died after saying a final prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul." Because one of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she was often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread. Because she was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna, she is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is also considered the patroness of bell makers for an unknown reason -- though some speculate it may have something to do with the fact that bells were used as fire alarms.
Prayer: Saint Agatha, you suffered sexual assault and indignity because of your faith. Help heal all those who are survivors of sexual assault and protect those women who are in danger. Amen
Things to Do
· Bake an Agatha loaf! On St. Agatha's feast day people would bake loaves attached to a picture of St. Agatha and prayers for protection from fires. The parish priests would bless the loaves, and people would keep them in their homes in case of a poor harvest and famine. The prayers would then be hung above the main door of each home to invoke St. Agatha's guardianship.
· Spanish tradition associates this feast day with ancient fertility customs. Young men would visit many farms throughout the countryside, singing songs of praise to St. Agatha and invoking God's blessing upon people, animals, and fields. However, if they did not receive the customary gifts of money or food for their services, they would call down a 'quick old age' upon the ungrateful inhabitants of that farm. Although most of us do not live in such communities where this kind of custom would be practicable or even understood, we can pray to St. Agatha for a greater openness to the transmission of new life in our culture, and actively affirm and support young couples with children whenever possible.
· St. Agatha is the patron saint against fire. Take this day to establish a fire escape plan for the family and to practice a family fire drill. Also check the smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors to see if they are all working. Change the batteries on all the alarms!
Party Adirondack style. Since its start back in 1897, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival has grown into one of the oldest winter carnivals in America. The 10-day event showcases plenty of winter magic, from an ice palace made from blocks of ice to the coronation of a winter carnival king and queen.
 Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior.