Thursday, January 21, 2010

An unsystematic reflection on St. Agnes

Despite the fact that the celebration of St. Agnes is only a memorial and that we don't even know what century she lived (according to the little bio in the liturgy of the hours), the office treats her almost as though this were a solemnity, with lots of proper texts and using the psalms from Sunday, Week I.

St. Agnes clearly has a deep significance for the Roman Church, as can be seen by the blessing of the lambs from whose wool the pallium for new archbishops is made. The ancient Christians certainly had an appreciation of consecrated virginity that we don't. Maybe, providentially, the emphasis on St. Agnes on this memorial is a good reminder that we need to recover an appreciation of the beauty of virginity, especially when consecrated to Christ.

By the way, you do not have to hate marriage and sexual relations to exalt virginity. I almost always had a student in the seminary who could not accept that the Church considers consecrated virginity a higher calling than marriage. I always made the point that virginity is not morally superior and that unconsecrated virginity isn't superior at all. That did not appease them. It has been repeated to them so often that there are four absolutely equal vocations, priesthood, religious life, marriage, singlehood (that last which I do not think is a vocation in the same sense as the other three) that they cannot conceive of a hierarchical relationship between them.

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