Tuesday, November 22, 2016


'Tis the Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr (second or third century), martyred in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius or the emperor Alexander Severus: Martyr-link ūna, Martyr-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
She is the patroness of musicians. It is written that as the musicians played at her wedding she "sang in her heart to the Lord." She is said to have been beheaded with a sword. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Although Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded on authentic material. There is no trace of honor being paid her in early times. A fragmentary inscription of the late fourth century refers to a church named after her, & her feast was celebrated at least in 545. According to legend, Cecilia was a young Christian of high rank betrothed to a Roman named Valerian. Through her influence, Valerian was converted, & was martyred along with his brother. The legend about Cecilia's death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, & asked the pope to convert her home into a church. Since the time of the Renaissance, she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.
'Tis also the feast of Blessed Tommaso Reggio, Bishop (1818-1901), founder of the Sisters of Saint Martha: Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings
The Book of Revelation, chapter fourteen, verses fourteen thru nineteen;
Psalm Ninety-six, verses ten thru thirteen;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-one, verses five thru eleven;

or, for St. Cecilia:
The Book of Hosea, chapter two, verses sixteen(b,c), seventeen(c,d), twenty-one, & twenty-two;
Psalm Forty-five, verse eleven;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verses one thru thirteen.

The Queue: Orange Is the New Black
In chapter twenty-five of Matthew's Gospel, the Lord Jesus set out visiting the imprisoned as one of the criteria that at the Last Judgment shall separate the righteous (the sheep on His right) from the condemned (the goats on His left). Thus chastened by my own failure to obey the Lord's command, for the last several months I have been participating in ministry at the Genesee County Jail. Yesterday, it was my sad privilege to visit a fellow I know personally, a former Holy Redeemer parishioner with whom I had previously served on a retreat team. His falling away preceded his legal trouble. By no means am I saying that his legal troubles are any sort of punishment or chastisement for his having fallen away; rather, I would suggest that the legal troubles are consistent with, or even the logical result of, the patterns of thought & behavior that led him to fall away in the first place. Regardless, this does not lessen my pity for him & all that he is suffering.

What struck me again & again in our conversation was his utter self-loathing, how completely he had bought into the diabolical narrative of his own worthlessness & destiny to fail. I exhorted him to reject those voices & to cleave to the truth that he is a beloved son of God Most High. God values us so highly that He came to earth as a man & suffered an ignominious death on the Cross so that we might live; it is the Devil, the prince of lies, who whispers in our ears & our hearts that we're scum, that a man is nothing more than the sum of all his mistakes. I don't know how well I reached him, but I tired my very best in the limited time available to us. Ultimately, it is up to him to embrace the truth or to live by lies.

This morning's reading from Matthew Kelly's Rediscover Jesus (Seven, "The Third Question") addressed this selfsame subject. An excerpt:
Jesus says you are infinitely valuable

Jesus believes that you are infinitely valuable. Anytime you don't believe that, you are living in a state of deception, disconnected from the deepest, truest reality.

I often wonder how we would live our lives differently if we really understood our true value. Over & over, through the Scriptures, Jesus tries to affirm our value: "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). "You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13). You are my brothers & sisters (Matthew 12:50). You are so valuable that God has counted & keeps track of every hair on your head (Luke 12:7).

So often the world wants to belittle us & put us down. The world can be so impersonal, reducing us to numbers or defining us by our functions. But Jesus offers a radically different view. He says you are infinitely valuable. In great contrast to the depersonalization of the world, Jesus affirms God's personal interest in you, even to the numbering of the hairs on your head. Jesus wants to raise you up. And more than anything else, he affirms that your value is not derived from what you do, but from who you are—a child of God.

No comments: