Summary: Esther, Pt. 2
Agnes de Rochier was the only daughter of one of the wealthiest merchants of Paris, and was admired by all the neighborhood for her beauty and virtue. In 1403 her father died, leaving her the sole possessor of his wealth, and rumor immediately disposed of her hand to all the young gallants of the quarter; but whether it was that grief for the loss of her parent had turned her head, or that the gloomy fanaticism of that time had worked with too fatal effect on her pure and inexperienced imagination, she took not only marriage and the male sex into utter abomination, but resolved to quit the world for ever and to make herself a perpetual prisoner for religion’s sake. She determined in short to be come what was then called a recluse and, as such, to pass the remainder of her days in a narrow cell built within the wall of a church.
On the 5th of October accordingly, when the cell, only a few feet square, was finished in the wall of the church of St. Opportune, Agnes entered her final abode and the ceremony of her reclusion began. The walls and pillars of the sacred edifice had been hung with tapestry and costly cloths; tapers burned on every altar; the clergy of the capital and the several religious communities thronged the church.
The Bishop of Paris, attended by his chaplains and the canons of Notre Dame, entered the choir and celebrated a pontifical mass. He then approached the opening of the cell, sprinkled it with holy water, and after Agnes had bidden adieu to her friends and relations, ordered the masons to fill up the aperture. This was done as strongly as stone and mortar could make, nor was any opening left, save only a small loophole through which Agnes might hear the offices of the church and receive the aliments given her by the charitable. She was eighteen years old when she entered this living tomb, and she continued within it eighty years, her death terminated her sufferings! Alas for mistaken piety! Her wealth which she gave to the church, and her own personal exertions during so long a life might have made her a blessing to all that quarter of the city, instead of remaining a useless object of compassion to the few, and of idle wonder to the many. --Chronicles Of Paris
What good does it do to flee to the desert, hide in caves and live in communes as some Christians have done?
The immigrant Mordecai and his native-born cousin Esther were out of their comfort zone, deep in foreign soil, and faced problems and challenges they never expected. What were they to do now and how to face the future: involvement or isolation, inclusion or exclusion, participation or prohibition in new surroundings, with new people and new roles?
Lean on One Another
2:1 Later when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. 2 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it. 5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. 8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.