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 Appian 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 Acta 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
1 Maccabees 4:36-37,52-59
Judas and his brothers said, ‘Now that our enemies have been defeated, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and dedicate it.’ So they marshalled the whole army, and went up to Mount Zion.
On the twenty-fifth of the ninth month, Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight, they rose at dawn and offered a lawful sacrifice on the new altar of holocausts which they had made. The altar was dedicated, to the sound of zithers, harps and cymbals, at the same time of year and on the same day on which the pagans had originally profaned it. The whole people fell prostrate in adoration, praising to the skies him who had made them so successful. For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar, joyfully offering holocausts, communion sacrifices and thanksgivings. They ornamented the front of the Temple with crowns and bosses of gold, repaired the gates and the storerooms and fitted them with doors. There was no end to the rejoicing among the people, and the reproach of the pagans was lifted from them. Judas, with his brothers and the whole assembly of Israel, made it a law that the days of the dedication of the altar should be celebrated yearly at the proper season, for eight days beginning on the twenty-fifth of the month Chislev, with rejoicing and gladness.
Jesus went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling. ‘According to scripture,’ he said ‘my house will be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’
He taught in the Temple every day. The chief priests and the scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they did not see how they could carry this out because the people as a whole hung on his words.
“… my house will be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.”
I was reading a social media post about how people are having their possessions stolen in the Catholic churches in Singapore. My first thought was, “Why? Why do people have to steal others’ belongings even in God’s house?” We have welfare services for the poor, from selling cheap goods at thrift shops to cooking free food to providing housing and free counselling, legal and medical services, so hasn’t the Church done enough for its people?
Thinking deeper on this issue, we need to be mindful of the fact that there are people in church who enjoy taking advantage of others’ focus on God for their own gain or benefit. While we must never condone their actions, we should still love and forgive the person. This does not mean that we let these people continue their wrongdoings, rather we should not shun, humiliate nor criticize them, but gently reproach them with brotherly love, and direct them to resources if they find themselves lacking in material needs. Hopefully, this will allow them to see God in us and have a true conversion from sin.
(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)
Prayer: Dear Lord, please pray for us to have the magnanimity of heart to forgive those who have stolen our possessions in Your church, and to approach them with brotherly love and not anger or fear. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for sharing Your peace amongst us to forgive those who have hurt us by stealing our personal belongings in Your Church, and for allowing us to be Your face, grace and love to those who are knowingly or unknowingly in need of You. Amen.