Spirit and life

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

 Spirit and life  
Lent, Day 22

St. Agnes of Bohemia (1205-1282)  was born in Bohemia (which is currently part of the Czech Republic of the which the capital is Prague). She was the daughter of the reigning king and queen, Ottokar and Constance.  At 3 years of age she was betrothed to a Duke, but he died and she grew up without any attachments.  When she became of age, she was offered in marriage to King Henry VII of Germany, Henry II of England and Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor.  Wanting to be a religious, she appealed to Pope Gregory IX who represented her wishes to the Emperor who said that he “would not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.”

She then devoted her life to prayer and spiritual works.  Her brother was Wenceslaus I, King of Bohemia.   On land donated by him, she founded a Hospital of St. Francis which was staffed by Franciscan friars who had come to Bohemia at her brother’s invitation. Through them, she got acquainted with St. Clare.  As a result of their correspondence, St. Clare sent five nuns from Assisi to Prague to begin a new community in a monastery attached to the hospital.   She joined the monastery and worked in the hospital cooking and caring for the lepers and paupers who came for care.  Eventually she became the Abbess. This is one of St. Clare’s messages to St. Agnes:

"Have nothing to do with anyone
 who would stand in your way and would seek to turn you aside
 from fulfilling the vows which you have made to the Most High (Psalm 49:14) and from living in that perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you"

The Spirit to which the Lord had called St. Agnes is reflected in the Liturgy for today. The 22nd day of Lent.  In the first reading Moses is giving God’s law to the Israelites and saying to them to accept it “That you may live.”   In the Gospel, Jesus declares himself the one who came to fulfill the law in his own life and in doing so shows us all what that call means for us- to be brothers and sisters of Jesus. 

Gospel verse today
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life
You have the words of everlasting life.

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