Nov 22 – Memorial for St. Cecilia, virgin, martyr
Cecilia (d. 117) was a cultivated young patrician woman whose ancestors loomed large in Rome’s history. She vowed her virginity to God, but her parents married her to Valerian of Trastevere. She told her new husband that she was accompanied by an angel, but in order to see it, he must be purified. He agreed to the purification and was baptized. Returning from the ceremony, he found her in prayer accompanied by a praying angel. The angel placed a crown on each of their heads, and offered Valerian a favour; the new convert asked that his brother be baptized.
The two brothers developed a ministry of giving proper burial to martyred Christians. In their turn they were arrested and martyred for their faith. Cecilia buried them at their villa on the Apprian Way, and was arrested for the action. She was ordered to sacrifice to false gods, and when she refused, she was martyred in her turn.
She was suffocated for a while and when that didn’t kill her, she was beheaded. Her grave was discovered in 817, and her body removed to the Church of St. Cecilia in Rome. The tomb was opened in 1599 and her body was found to be incorrupt.
The Acts of Cecilia includes the following: “While the profane music of her wedding was heard, Cecilia was singing in her heart a hymn of love for Jesus, her true spouse.” It was this phrase that led to her association with music, singers, musicians, etc.
- Patron Saint Index
In my vision I, John, saw a white cloud and, sitting on it, one like a son of man with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the sanctuary, and shouted aloud to the one sitting on the cloud, ‘Put your sickle in and reap: harvest time has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ Then the one sitting on the cloud set his sickle to work on the earth, and the earth’s harvest was reaped.
Another angel, who also carried a sharp sickle, came out of the temple in heaven, and the angel in charge of the fire left the altar and shouted aloud to the one with the sharp sickle, ‘Put your sickle in and cut all the bunches off the vine of the earth; all its grapes are ripe.’ So the angel set his sickle to work on the earth and harvested the whole vintage of the earth and put it into a huge winepress, the winepress of God’s anger.
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’
When you hear of wars and troubled times, do not be frightened; for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.
I came across an article once about Nostradamus, a French apothecary in the 16th century, who became well-known for his published works in which he was purported to have prophesied several major world events. One of his predictions was about the end of the world. It scared me for days, and I worried and mulled about it in my head. Some nights I couldn’t sleep just thinking about it. Understand though, that I was a young, impressionable, school-going child at the time. I believed almost anything then.
Fear is a gripping emotion. It can take hold of a strong person and paralyze him; it can reduce us to emotional wrecks. We fear what we don’t know. We don’t know what the future holds, so we worry about it. We don’t understand why certain things happen to us, so we are afraid to try. When we fear, it is when we are most vulnerable. We are like leaves, scattered and blown by the wind in all directions. If not checked, the core of our faith could be easily shaken and we would believe anything without a doubt, even if it wasn’t true.
We have been reading a lot of the wars and conflicts going on in the world today. The mindless murders and killings, of plagues and virus outbreaks, natural disasters which seem quite unnatural, it is all quite distressing to read about and watch. Some politicians and people with power have used these events to their advantage as propaganda to discredit their opponents and to incite popular unrest. In their fear, people are more inclined to hear out what these people are saying. Our heads want to believe, but what do our hearts tell us?
In these times of distress, do not fear; instead, lift up your hands in prayer to God to deliver us from our afflictions and distress. Now, more than ever, prayer is our most powerful defense. Now, more than ever, our spirit of brotherly and sisterly love is never more essential. Now is not the time to fear, but a time to pray. “Do not be frightened,” says the Lord. “The end is not so soon”. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters caught in the conflicts and disasters of the world today, and for peace and love. “For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for peace to prevail and wars and conflicts in the world today to end. Lord, we pray for those who are afflicted. Lighten their suffering, and we pray that they may find comfort and peace in Your love.
Thanksgiving: We give You thanks Lord, for never abandoning us in our times of trouble. You said that where two or three are gathered in Your name, You would be in our midst. Thank you for hearing our prayers Lord.