By Susan Ciancio
Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes of Montepulciano—a beautiful young woman who knew from a young age that she wanted to serve God as a religious sister. As I read her story, I couldn’t help but feel in awe of her holiness and of her love of God and her fellow human beings. We desperately need her example today.
Agnes was born to a wealthy family in Italy in 1268. Even as a child, she knew that she wanted to give her life to God; she frequently begged her parents to take her to visit local convents.
When she was 14, she joined the Franciscans in Montepulciano. Right away, those who lived with her saw something special in her. Just a year later, when a new convent opened nearby, Agnes moved there and encouraged others to join as well. She was then asked to lead it, and because she was only 15, she had to ask for special permission from the pope.
It is said that she had many visions of the Blessed Mother, who on one occasion allowed her to hold Baby Jesus. Several miracles are attributed to Agnes’ intercession, including one in which, when the convent ran out of food, she blessed bread, which allowed the loaves to multiply and feed the entire community. It is also said that, when Agnes prayed, manna would fall around her, so much so that it looked like she had been in a snowstorm.
Agnes died at the age of 49, but she had made an enormous impact on those around her.
As we look around at the chaos of our country today, we cannot help but hear stories like Agnes’ and want to impress upon our children that her actions are those we should all emulate.
The news contains a seemingly endless series of stories that put fear into the hearts of parents. We see hundreds of teens rioting in Chicago. We see men and boys storming a convenience store in LA, stealing merchandise, and causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. We see young kids trying—and dying from—ridiculous TikTok challenges. We see parents screaming for rights to allow their young children to change genders. We see youth violently reacting to losing sports competitions. Sadly, the list could go on and on.
If you’re like me, you watch the news and wonder what is wrong with people. We clearly live in much different times than Agnes lived in, but that’s no reason we should not teach our children to revere God and our faith as she did.
When I was younger, my father used to tell me that there are three kinds of people in this world: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who wonder what happened.
Right now, many in our country are watching the news, shaking their heads, and wondering what happened. Not enough people are taking action.
But those of us of faith know what happened. As a nation, we have lost sight of God, and we have lost a respect for life and for other people.
Nobody who respects themselves or others would harm or kill others, trash a business, steal from people, mutilate their bodies, or encourage someone else—let alone their own child—to do so.
This is why we must now become a country of people who make things happen. Now is not the time to stay silent. Now is not the time to close the web page on the disturbing news story or scroll past the news on TV.
We must take a good, long look at the culture we are passing down to our children and grandchildren. Is this what we want for them—to have them live in fear of walking down a city street? To live in fear of going to a convenience store? To make friends with someone who cares more about TikTok notoriety than their well-being?
Agnes lived counterculturally, but she lived for God. The difference she made in the lives of people around her and people still today is incalculable. This is what we should all strive for.
But to live counterculturally means that we speak up when we see atrocities, we fight for morality, we teach our children how to behave and treat others, and we elect leaders who are tough on crime and who say enough is enough. Yet even that is not sufficient. We have to become leaders—in our homes, in our workplace, and in our communities. We cannot be a country of passive people who allow this chaos and hatred of others to continue.
St. Agnes had a vision that she was holding the Christ Child. Let us all keep that vision in mind as we battle against the evil of today. We are holding Him in our arms; we are fighting for Him.
Our world will not change if we don’t change it. The devil has a stranglehold on many right now, but though he may seem to be winning the battle, he will not win the war. So let us ask ourselves: Who am I fighting with?