REAL LIFE CONNECTION: PERPETUA AND FELICITY
Body as Temple of the Holy Spirit and Self-Presentation
What awe-inspiring women we have to look up to. I have always loved Perpetua and Felicity ever since my mother told me their story, and love them even more because my sister Mary chose Perpetua for her Confirmation Saint, and my sister Anna who is a year younger chose Felicity—which I think is so dear!
There's so much to dwell on in this historical account, perhaps above all else, their courage.
Courage comes from the Latin word for heart. They both had the heart to hold fast to what they believed in, under the most terrifying circumstances. Not only were they under physical duress, but they faced physiological torture of the acutest kind. Perpetua was pitted against her father - who she loved - but who was misguided in his attempts to get her to renounce Jesus. Felicity had to deliver her baby in a Roman prison, without the aid of pain relief, air-conditioning, or fresh water, and had to give her sweet child right as she was born. All this, and they were unmoved in their commitment to Jesus. But how?
"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
A temple is a building devoted to worship. Most of us know the feeling of stepping into a truly beautiful church. It feels like a place set apart for something special. It in- spires a respect in the way we dress and behave. It's not the building itself that demands this, but WHO that building is built in honor of that brings people to their knees.
So too, with our very bodies we are called to inspire respect for the God we have been made to serve. This extends to every part of our being, and the way we express and carry ourselves.
A moment I marvel at most about the account of Perpetua and Felicity is when Perpetua says, "Let us fix our hair." It wasn't out of vanity—it was out of dignity. Even though Perpetua was a patrician, and Felicity a slave, they both acted like noblewomen. They were both daughters of God—it doesn't get any nobler than that. We are called to be every bit as noble, because we have that same birthright. We should comport ourselves with dignity worthy of the God we serve in all facets of life, from the way we dress, to how we talk, to how we conduct our relationships and business, to even how we chew our food. It all matters. So "let us fix our hair" - and put some extra care into how we present ourselves, for our nearest and dearest, for those we see every day, and those we haven't even met yet, remembering the example of our elder sisters Perpetua and Felicity, and that we represent the same God for whom they lived and died so valiantly.
REFLECTION What is an area of my life that I excel in when it comes to representing myself, and in turn, God?
Is there an area that I would like to improve on?