Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr of the Faith. St. Cecilia was also well known as the patron saint of Church music and hymns, and as the patron of choirs. She was a Roman noblewoman who lived a pious Christian life, and was martyred for her faith together with her husband, and other Christians, who were also counted the holy martyrs.
St. Cecilia is one of the most renowned and prominent saints of the Church, as she is the patron of musicians and songs made to glorify God. St. Cecilia married her husband, whose name was Valerian, and during the wedding it was said that St. Cecilia sang in her heart full of joy and praise to God, which then became the reason why she is associated with musicians and all those involved in Church music.
When the time came for her to consummate her marriage to her husband, an angel of the Lord appeared to her and proclaimed to her that the wrath of the Lord would come upon whoever it was that tried to violate the virginity of St. Cecilia. When her husband inquired about the angel, St. Cecilia pointed out where he could witness the sign of God, and as a result, her husband became a believer of Christ and was baptised.
St. Cecilia was martyred and her memory was preserved by veneration of the faithful. Her former residence became the site of the Church of St. Cecilia, to where many people thronged to, even until this day. St. Cecilia became a long time patron of music, and in particular the beautiful Church music and symphonies of praise to God, and numerous musical establishments and choirs were named in her honour.
Today, as we come together to celebrate the feast of this great saint and martyr, we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, in the Gospel we heard how the Lord rebuked the Sadducees, the faction of the people of Judea who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead, angels, or any other supernatural phenomena, beyond what they could prove with their senses.
The Sadducees thought that resurrection of the dead was meaningless and a nonsense, using the example of a woman who was betrothed to seven brothers as a justification. But their view and opinion on the laws of Moses was twisted and false. They thought not in terms of the divine, but in terms of the flawed senses of men. They trusted their own judgments and wishes rather than to trust in the Lord.
They thought in terms of human lust and desires, and they thought that this life in this world ought to be given to hedonistic pleasures and desires. But they failed to realise that in the world that is to come, all will have no more need for worldly things and desires, for the faithful will be made perfect and united in full perfection with the Lord. And what matters is the purity and sanctity of one’s soul. Being united with God makes us all perfect and all our needs are satisfied. And thus it is shown as if we are like angels before God, praising and singing hymns to God at all times.
Do you know, brothers and sisters in Christ, that singing with devotion is worth twice the prayer? Thus, on this feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music and hymns, let us all seek to bear witness to the Lord through sacred music. Just as in the first reading today, it was told of the witnesses of God who would come at the end of time to preach the truth of God, we too should be witnesses of the Lord, and there is indeed no better way to do so, than to sing hymns of praise to God with the full devotion and focus of our hearts.
The songs of our heart should be song of joy and rejoicing, mimicking the song of the glory of the Lord sung by the angels. That is because we know that we have hope through the Lord who had forgiven us our sins, and to those of us who remain faithful to Him, as St. Cecilia had been, our victory and triumph against evil and darkness is already assured.
St. Cecilia was resolute and firm in defending her faith, and she was also firm in maintaining the purity of her soul, by maintaining her sacred virginity as ordained by God. Through that grace, she had saved not just herself, but also her husband and all those whom she had met and encountered, and many more people inspired by her examples also received the same grace of God.
This is the proof of what Jesus had told to the Pharisees, that in this world, life is more than just enjoyment and pursuit of worldly desires, but indeed, our lives should be filled with meaning and purpose, just as St. Cecilia offered herself to the full and total service to God, singing the hymn of her faith and joy, knowing that she has been found worthy of the Lord and be made pure just as our Lord is pure and good.
The holy witnesses from the Book of revelations were also resolute and firm in their faith, and amidst opposition and threats to them, they remained fully faithful and devoted. And through their witnessing of the faith, they had shown to us, that there is indeed nothing to fear from the power of evil and death, for if we are faithful and truly devoted to God, we have absolutely nothing to fear. The beast might have been able to destroy the body, but it cannot harm our soul. The souls of the faithful are pure and holy, and they are under protection of the Lord, our loving God.
Therefore, be not afraid, brethren! But sing the song of our joy and adulation for the Lord, who alone is worthy of all praise, and be brave in defending our faith and the purity of our hearts. Let us not be like the Sadducees and those others who put their trust in themselves and in the things of this world. Be courageous and faithful in living our faith life, and let us all, inspired by the examples of St. Cecilia, raise the song of our Lord’s praise from our hearts, that through our joyful and triumphant song, we may bring more souls to salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
May Almighty God bring us into His eternal kingdom, which He had prepared for those who had laid down their lives for Him, and also for those who had remained faithful despite the temptations of the world. Let us all be like angels in our honour and praise to God, that our song will echo throughout the heavens and the earth, proclaiming His glory and majesty for all eternity. God bless us all. Amen.
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