Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Saint Cecilia is an interesting woman. She is one of the few people (man or woman) to be mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I. A basilica was dedicated to her in the 5th century. As soon as she was martyred, stories of her holiness spread like wildfire among Christians. Yet amazingly little is known of her life–even the emperor who reigned when she was martyred is not entirely clear. The details of her life have faded into the forgetfulness of history, but the overall picture has never been lost: that she was a woman dedicated to God. She brought about her husband’s conversion (though the marriage was reputed to never have been consummated, hence her status as both virgin and martyr), and was faithful to Jesus to the point of death.

In a way, there is a great grace in how she is remembered. Just as John the Baptist declared that “he must increase, while I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30), so Saint Cecilia decreased until only her sanctity, her fervor for her husbands, and her martyrdom were remembered. In the end, none of her accomplishments or the particulars of whether she was a woman of Roman nobility mattered. She provides a good reminder for when we survey our own lives. If everything we did in our lives was forgotten, except for how much we loved Jesus and the examples of that love, what would remain? Would the result be something worth proclaiming? As we continue to spend the following week reflecting on the Second Coming, Saint Cecilia offers us an example of how our lives might be judged at that time.

November 22nd, 2014