Lifelong Catechesis

Forming Catholic identity across generations
May 19, 2024


The twofold character of Advent calls us to prepare for the remembering of the Word made Flesh at Christmas, and directs us to wait with alertness for Jesus’ second coming.

Saint of the Week

Third Sunday of Advent

Barbara, Virgin and Martyr, Fourth Century

There is some doubt that the virgin, Barbara, ever existed. Nevertheless, she was one of the most popular saints in the middle ages.

The story of Barbara is that she was the daughter of a pagan official in the time of the Emperor Maximian. The girl was so beautiful that her father built a tower for her to live in to isolate her from the world. Many princes came to woo her, but she resisted her father’s efforts to have her marry one of them, choosing instead to dedicate her life to Christ.

While her father was away on a long sojourn, Barbara came down from her tower to inspect a bath house which he was having built. When she saw that they were only putting two windows into the building, she ordered them to install a third window. In this bath house, Barbara was baptized, and she lived there for a time before returning to the tower.

When her father returned from his journey, he questioned why there were now three windows in his bath house. The workmen told him that Barbara had ordered it. The father angrily confronted Barbara, who explained that the three windows were like the Holy Trinity, bringing light into the world.

Furious, her father took her before a judge who had her tortured. Still not satisfied with her punishment, her father then took Barbara to the top of a mountain where he killed her. On coming down from the mountain, Barbara’s father was consumed by a fire so intense that only some ashes from his body could be found. The site of Barbara’s martyrdom is variously described as being in parts of modern day Greece and in Rome.

St. Barbara is the patron saint of architects. She is also invoked for protection from fire, presumably referring to the fire which killed her father.

Barbara’s message today: While most parents would not treat their children as harshly as did Barbara’s father, many of us do not consider the strong and lasting effects of our words on our children. Gentle guidance, understanding, and prayers can often accomplish much more than harsh words.

  • When you have a disagreement with one of your children, do you try to resolve it with arguments and anger? Or do you try to talk out the problem, with kindness and understanding as your guide?