Wednesday, 24 August 2011

St. Cecilia of Rome, Martyr

Icon, St. Cecilia of Rome, Martyr, drawn by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011


The name of St. Cecilia has always been most illustrious in the church, and ever since the primitive ages is mentioned with distinction in the canon of the mass, and in the sacramentaries and calendars of the church. Her spouse Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus, (an officer sent to guard them who was also converted) who were her companions in martyrdom, are also mentioned in the same authentic and venerable writings.

St. Cecilia was a native of Rome, of a good family, and educated in the principles and perfect practice of the Christian religion. In her youth she by vow consecrated her virginity to God, yet was compelled by her parents to marry a nobleman named Valerian. Cecilia converted her new husband to the faith on their wedding night!

The account from the Martyrology of one of the results of the conversion and baptism of Cecilia's husband by the bishop are as follows:

[Returning from the time spent with Bishop Urban] Valerian found Cecilia at prayer, and beheld a most radiant angel of ineffable beauty standing beside her. The angel held in his hand two garlands made of flowers of all colours, from which came a fragrance surpassing description. He placed one garland on the maiden’s head, the other on Valerian’s, and said, "Guard these wreaths by keeping your hearts pure and your bodies undefiled. I have brought them to you from God’s paradise. They never wither, nor do they lose their fragrance, and no one can see them save those who, like you, are lovers of chastity. It is because you have agreed to guard your purity that God has sent me to you, Valerian.

This explains why I chose to place a garland of flowers on Cecilia's head.

Soon after they gained the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. The men first suffered martyrdom, being beheaded for the faith. St. Cecilia finished her glorious triumph some days after them.

At that time, the officials attempted to kill her by smothering her by steam. However, the attempt failed, and she was to have her head chopped off. But they were unsuccessful three times, and she would not die until she received the sacrament of Holy Communion. You will notice that I put three slash marks on the neck of St. Cecilia to remind us of how she died.

Cecilia survived another three days before succumbing. In the last three days of her life, she opened her eyes, gazed at her family and friends who crowded around her cell, closed them, and never opened them again. The people by her cell knew immediately that she was to become a saint in heaven. When her incorruptible body was found long after her death, it was found that on one hand she had three fingers outstretched and on the other hand just one finger, denoting her belief in the Trinity -- three Persons in one God.

Cecilia's musical fame rests on a passing notice in her legend that while they were attempt to decapitate her, she continued to praise God, singing to Him, as she lay dying a martyr's death. She is frequently depicted playing an organ, harp or other musical instrument. Musical societies and conservatories frequently have been named for St. Cecilia. Her feast day has become, over the centuries, an occasion for musical concerts and festivals.

St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.



Following are four photos I came across this week that quite adequately show that boys truly do need to have constant parental supervision -- or else who knows what on earth they will take it into their little boy brains to try next.  They are still too young to have learned the difference between courage and foolhardiness!  Take a look and you will see what I mean.

"My, what big teeth you have, grandmother" ... "All the better to eat you with, my dear!"
"I double-dog dare you!"

Uh-oh!  This isn't working like I thought it would!

Live and learn...


Suki is doing just fine.  She continues to eat all she wants of exactly the food she likes and after that she goes and sleeps for as as long as she wants in her favourite sleeping spot.  Yes, indeed, she is doing just fine.  Here is a recent photo taken of Suki as she was "saying her prayers".  She does this by sleeping in front of the icons.  I think she feels that just being near the icons is sufficient!  What a crazy cat.

Suki resting under a matched set of icons
I kept trying to distract her before I pressed the button on the camera so that she would not be looking directly into the camera which leads to the problem of "glassy eyes".  However, she insisted on looking directly where I did not want her to look!  Oh, well, at least you can see how much she has "filled out"!
Now, as for me, I am not doing too well.  I have had another fall.  This time I fell forwards rather than backwards.  I was laughing yesterday and saying that perhaps I am instinctively trying to push my neck vertebrae back into place by using what one might call the "Fred Flintstone Method"!  First do the damage by falling backwards; next repair the damage by falling forwards!  Guess what, it did not work -- maybe it would have worked for Fred and Barney, but not for me!

Surprisingly, considering how bad a fall I actually had this past Saturday, I am actually feeling pretty good.  I look terrible as my face is all black and blue and purple and yellow and green!  I look as though I am wearing a mask.  As you can imagine, this, means that I have not wanted to venture out much since I do not want to frighten children and babies!  This, too, shall pass.  As I have mentioned so many times previously, the wonderful quote by Julian of Norwich always brings me back to a place of acceptance of what is.  Remember?  She said:  "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."  And so it shall.
May the peace of God be with us all.

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