This past Saturday we celebrated the feast of St. Agnes, the virgin martyr who was only twelve years old when she gave up her life for her Spouse, Jesus Christ. She did this because she refused to give up her virginity even when faced with threats and taunts. She had given herself wholly to Christ and she would rather die than break this vow. Her resolve shows us that the virtues of purity and chastity are precious in the eyes of God and so are worth fighting for, even at the expense of our lives. This is far removed from our current culture, which promotes doing what you want if it makes you happy and feels good, including sex before marriage and other things that involve impurity. The example of St. Agnes shows us the value of purity and chastity and how they leave us free to love God as we ought.
Purity and chastity can be viewed as “boring” and not “living life to the fullest.” But people who view them this way often have no concept of God or the truly beautiful gift that our bodies are. That’s just what they are, gifts, and they are not our own. Our bodies were created by God and they belong to Him. Living a pure and chaste life helps us govern our bodies in the way that we should, keeping in mind that they are the property of God and not of man. And what we find in carrying out the virtues of purity and chastity in our bodies is that they also help us be pure in our thoughts and in our hearts. Once we realize the value of keeping our flesh pure, we begin to purge out the things in our minds and hearts that get in the way of living our lives solely for God, thus leading us to be pure in both body and soul. St. Agnes showed this when she said right before her execution, “If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish.” Not only had she committed to purity and chastity in her body, but she had realized that no one else could make her happy besides Jesus and she desired Him so much that she was eager to die rather than give in to the lures of anyone or anything else.
Like St. Agnes, we should strive to live pure and chaste lives in order to honor our bodies as God’s property and open our minds and hearts to live completely for Him. Although completely countercultural, it is our duty to God and manifesting the beauty of this life can help to change our culture and show others the freedom of loving God and serving Him with our whole being, body, mind and soul.