Sanctity knows no age limit

In January the Church celebrates the feast day of one of the early virgin-martyrs, Saint Agnes, who gave her life for Jesus Christ at the young age of twelve. In the same month, the Church celebrates the feast day of an early pioneer of the monastic life, Saint Antony of the desert, who lived to the ripe old age of one hundred and five! For Dominicans, there is also the feast day of Saint Margaret of Hungary. Her parents, the king and queen of Hungary, offered her to God before her birth in supplication that their country would be spared from a Tartar invasion. Their prayer was granted and Margaret was placed in a Dominican convent at the tender age of three. But in God’s providence it seems she truly had a religious vocation, because, as she grew older, she rejected worldly honors and several offers of marriage to remain consecrated to Jesus Christ as a nun, choosing to humbly do the most menial tasks, and dying around the age of twenty-eight. There is also the feast day of Raymond of Pennafort, the Third Master of the Order, who resigned from this office after several years due to his age and health. Perhaps he was planning on preparing for death, but it seems God had other plans because Raymond went on to live over thirty more years, finally reaching the golden age of one hundred!

What all these saints have in common is fidelity to Jesus Christ. One had to persevere in the face of threats, disgrace and death. Another had to persevere in the face of worldly honors and the temptation to a comfortable life as a princess. One had to persevere in longs hours spent in fasts and vigils in the burning heat of the desert. Still one other had to persevere through many duties in the service of the Church. Indeed we know that holiness, exemplified through fidelity and perseverance, depends not upon age but upon the grace of God. May these holy ones intercede today for our Church and our world.