Friday, 20 January 2012

St. Agnes of Rome

Icon, St. Agnes of Rome, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Feast day (memorial) January 21st

Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him whom the angels serve. - Saint Agnes

Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of thirteen. There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord int he midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs. In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck. You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned. His right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and religion; Agnes preserved her virginity and gained a martyr’s crown. - from an essay On Virgins by Saint Ambrose of Milan

Saint Agnes had made a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse."

Procop, the Governor's son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, "I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!" In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor.

The Governor promised Saint Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but she refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shown with joy. Next he sent her to a place of sin [a brothel], but an angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death.

Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Saint Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. "I would offend my Spouse," she said, "if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!" Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.

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PENGUINS

Following are some fun facts about Penguins taken from http://www.about.com/
PENGUINS are some of the most recognizable and beloved birds in the world, and they are also some of the most unique. 
1. There are 18 species of penguin in the world. While some species are thriving, 13 of them have declining populations.
2. Penguins are found only in the Southern Hemisphere. While most people associate penguins with Antarctica, they are much more widespread and penguin populations can also be found in South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
3. The northernmost penguin species is the Galapagos penguin, which lives year-round near the equator.
4. Penguins lost the ability to fly millions of years ago, but their powerful flipper-like wings and streamlined bodies make them very accomplished swimmers. They are the fastest swimming and deepest diving species of any birds.
5. While swimming, penguins will leap above the surface of the water, a practice called porpoising. This coats their plumage with tiny bubbles that reduce friction, allowing them to swim as fast as 20 miles per hour (32 kph). 6. The light front and dark back of classic penguin plumage is called countershading and it provides superb camouflage from above and below to protect penguins in the water.
7. Penguins are carnivores that catch all their food live in the sea. Depending on the species they can eat a variety of different marine animals, including fish, squid, shrimp, krill and other crustaceans.
8. Penguins’ eyes work better underwater than they do in the air, giving them superior eyesight to spot prey while hunting, even in cloudy or murky water. 9. The emperor penguin is the largest of the penguin species and can weigh up to 90 pounds. The fairy penguin is the smallest and weighs only 2 pounds. 10. The yellow-eyed penguin is believed to be the rarest penguin species, with only approximately 5,000 birds. They can only be found along the southeastern coast of New Zealand and nearby islands.
11. Penguins are social birds that form breeding colonies numbering in the tens of thousands. They may use the same nesting grounds for thousands of years, and colonies can number in the millions. They mate for life.
12. Emperor penguins and king penguins do not make nests. Instead, a single egg for each mated pair is incubated on a parent’s feet and kept warm by a flap of skin called a brood pouch. 

13. Emperor penguin males will incubate their eggs for two months in the winter without eating while the females are at sea. During that time, they live off their fat reserves and may lose half their body weight. When the females return shortly after the chicks hatch, they switch parental duties and the females fast.
14. Depending on the species, a wild penguin can live 15-20 years. During that time, they spend up to 75 percent of their lives at sea.
15. Penguins have many natural predators depending on their habitat, including leopard seals, sea lions, orcas, snakes, sharks and foxes. Artificial threats are also a problem for penguins, including oil spills and other pollution, global warming that changes the distribution of food sources and illegal poaching and egg harvesting. By Melissa Mayntz, About.com Guide


So much in love...

First there were two; then there were three


Characters from the movie, "March of the Penguins"


Penguin day-care!

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SUKI:

Well, this is a paragraph I hoped I would never have to write; however, the time has come for me to face an issue that I can no longer deny.  I am simply unable, physically, to take proper care of Suki.  So, I am now searching for a new home for her.  Until I can find some place for her that is exactly right, I will not give her up even if I have to take extra pain medication just to do the tasks necessary for her upkeep. 

I know that there are a number of my readers who have grown very fond of Suki so I wanted you to know what is happening and why I haven't been commenting about her lately.  She continues to do cute and funny things, but it hurts me too much to have to focus on them and write them down as it makes me just too aware of how short the time is before I have to give her up.

As I am writing this, she has gone back to her favourite "perch" after spending some time earlier today lying in the sunshine and giving herself a good bath.

I will keep you informed as things develop.


St. Agnes pray for us, asking that the peace of God may be with us all.

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