Reflection for Tuesday, November 22, 2011: 34th week in Ordinary Time.

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Shirley, Nancy
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Today commemorates St. Cecilia -- patroness of church music. The story of St. Cecilia is an interesting one. Born into a senatorial family, she was a Christian from infancy yet given in marriage to a noble pagan youth, Valerianus. When she explained to him that her body was protected by an angel, he asked to see the angel and was soon converted to Christianity. Valerianus' brother visited and also converted. Described as zealous children of Faith, they generously gave their riches to the poor and buried those who died for their belief in Christ. As a result they were condemned to death and Cecilia herself was taken prisoner. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, she made a "glorious profession of faith" and was "condemned to be suffocated in the bath of her own house." When that proved to be unsuccessful, she was beheaded. The story of St. Cecilia is not unlike other martyrs of the early church -- she and her husband and brother-in-law were steadfast in faith and willing to not only change their lives to follow Christ but also to give their lives. What fascinates me most about St. Cecilia is her role as patroness of music. She is frequently depicted with an organ or playing the organ. There are poems that refer to her as singing in her heart to God only. What a beautiful image -- one that I can certainly embrace. Cecilian societies (musical associations) exist everywhere today. Her lasting contribution is to encourage all of us to sing in our hearts to God.||Both the first reading and the gospel address the fragility and finiteness of our earthly structures both literally and figuratively. We can build and build, making bigger and taller structures yet none will be permanent, and all will eventually fall. This finite nature is not limited to physical structures, nations, societies; political realms are all just as fragile. There is only one eternal aspect of life -- our Faith. Just as for St. Cecilia and the other martyrs, life on this earth will challenge us in a variety of ways and will pass but it is our Faith that will sustain us and save us. Everything, save the love of God, is transient.| It seems easy for us to believe that we have control over these things. We go on our merry way thinking that we will be here forever -- we accumulate possessions as though we are going to take them with us. I still occasionally see the bumper sticker that says, 'He who dies with the most toys wins.' What exactly does he win? Eternal life? Happiness? Our precious lives are short and we need to live them in Faith and to reject the pressures that amassing things is a way to win. Two friends of ours were recently on a lovely vacation when he suffered a heart attack and passed away - another reminder that life is, indeed, transient. This short time on earth needs to be spent wisely. As the responsorial psalm proclaims: Give glory and eternal praise to Him!!
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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