St. Cecilia

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday the Church honors one of the women martyrs of the early Church, St. Cecilia.   She is by tradition known as the patron saint of musicians and singers because of the legend of how she died.   In Rome at the beginning of the 2nd century, Christians were under fierce persecution.   Cecilia was born to a family of a Roman senator and baptized into the Church as a child.   Her wedding was arranged to Valerianus after which she informed him that she had vowed her virginity to Christ and that an angel of the Lord would protect her purity.   Upon his visit with Pope Urban he was baptized and returned to Cecilia where upon they were visited by an angel and crowned with lilies and roses.   Valerianus and his Christian brother Tiburtius were zealous for the faith and spent their time burying those Christians who were martyred.   For their “treason” they were arrested and condemned to death.   After their death Cecilia arranged their burial after which she became the target of the Roman prefect’s wrath.   Before she was arrested she arranged that her house become a meeting place for Christians in Rome later it would become a Church. 

Cecilia’s passion and martyrdom was especially torturous.   She was condemned to die in a bath house by steam burns and suffocation.   After several attempts, Cecilia remained unhurt, thereby infuriating the Roman prefect who then ordered her to be decapitated.   Three times the executioner attempted to severe her head but was unsuccessful leaving Cecilia lay on the streets of Rome in her own blood.  A passerby covered her head so not to see her gruesome display on the public streets.   Legend has it that Cecilia would not die for three days until she received Holy Communion, while suffering tremendously she sang hymns of praise to God.   For this she was made the patron of musicians and singers.   Pope Urban buried her in the catacombs among the bishops and confessors of the Church.   St. Cecilia is mentioned in the Roman Canon (the First Eucharistic prayer) in the Mass.   She is honored as a virgin and martyr. 

The story of this glorious martyr, a hero of the faith is a source of great inspiration Christians today.   Cecilia’s joy was the union with her beloved spouse Jesus Christ expressed in Holy Communion.   She held on to her life so not to allow herself to face death without having received Viaticum (which literally means “food for the journey”).  Viaticum is the final communion for those who are dying.   She trusted in the Lord’s promise of “whoever eats this bread shall live forever for the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn. 6).   Here we find a great a lesson for our final journey to the Lord.   When death nears, every one of us needs to be prepared to return to the home of our Heavenly Father.   The Church provides for us the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, and while we are able request that the priest give Viaticum for our journey home.   The joy of our life is Jesus Christ, as St. Cecilia sang his praises, and the joy of the life to come is Jesus Christ.   What could be better, what could bring us more happiness or fulfillment.   He is our life, our joy, and this weekend we claim him, our King Eternal.   Praised be Jesus Christ!  

In the Lord Jesus,
Fr. Vasquez 

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