“St. Aga, Who?”

Just when I think that I’ve “heard” it all, I read some new, bizarre, nonsensical idea. Let me explain.  I was in the thrift store, scanning the bookshelves, when I came upon a book about simplifying your life while at the same time living your life more abundantly. So far sounds good!

I cracked it open to a random page and read, “This year, for a refreshing change, I thought we’d celebrate the feast of Saint Agabus, the patron saint of fortune-tellers, instead of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of disappointment. For who among us does not secretly want to know what the future holds, especially concerning matters of the heart?”

Well, that certainly is a lot to ponder! My first thought was St. Agabus, who? For what? And close on its heels, vying for my attention was “Clearly this woman does not know who St. Valentine is.” Reading the next sentence confirmed what a priest friend has repeatedly stated, “Curiosity is not a good thing.” He believes that studiousness not curiosity is a virtue.

Why is curiosity about the future not a good thing? Sure, we can be curious and wonder about the future. A young woman often wonders what kind of man will she marry. There are plenty of love songs that express that curiosity. Wondering is one thing. Curiosity to the point of seeking a fortune teller or “praying to the saint of fortune-tellers” is something else. What’s wrong with that?

In the CCC, we read 2115 “. . . A sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.”

Simply stated, by seeking out the “advice” of a fortune teller, that person is placing her “faith” in the fortune teller and not God. The fortune teller may be telling her absolute gobbledygook but she is going to believe it instead of believing that God, who is a loving Father cares about her personally and about her future.

To clarify a few more points. While there really is a St. Agabus, a prophet in the early Church, the Church would never give him the title of saint of fortune-tellers.

Furthermore, why does this woman label St. Valentine the patron saint of disappointment? In reading bits and pieces of the book, the answer becomes evident. She labels St. Valentine such because sadly she herself has been disappointed in love and has transferred her disappointment to St. Valentine, whom I venture to say she knows little about other than the secular notion of hearts, flowers, chocolate and love.

While it would be easy to dismiss her strange ideas as an anomaly, I venture to say considering the number of copies her books have sold, she is not alone with these strange ideas. She is a poor lost soul, searching for meaning, even if she doesn’t recognize it as such. Sprinkled throughout her book are bits of wisdom, “Accustom yourself to continually make many acts of love for they enkindle and melt the soul. ” Saint Teresa of Avila. But those moments of insight, gratitude or appreciation of simple wonders are closely followed by long passages narcissistic, self-indulgence.  Like so many people today, she has fashioned God to fit her concept of God, even so far as giving him names that she fancies for the moment–not that in her mind God is a he.

Where am I going with this? Do we know who God is? Do we have a relationship with him? Do we spend time in his presence? Do we have confidence in him? Do we believe he is a loving, kind Father, who cares about us personally. St. Agabus did or he wouldn’t be a saint. But what about us?

Elizabeth Yank

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Elizabeth Yank is a free lance writer who has been published in a number of Catholic publications, including Faith and Family, National Catholic Register, Lay Witness, and others.

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