Friday, November 21, 2014

St Cecilia

"O God, I will sing a new song to you; with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise. Ps 44:9"

St Cecilia is almost always portrayed with a musical instrument in her hands. Sometimes it is a viola or a flute; at other times she is seated at an organ, all because she is said to have heard beautiful music when she was forced to marry a pagan. From a simple incident without a firm historical foundation, Cecilia is honored as the patron of liturgical music. Clearly, what keeps Cecilia's memory alive is the power of music that fills us with hope and joy, and helps deepen the faith that is the ground of our lives.
When I was a boy there was a wonderful choir in my home parish, and although as a child I did not always appreciate the beautiful music they made, my spirit remembers the pride of the adults who who sang in the choir and the joy of those who listened. At Christmas, our choir's  ministry was even richer since the men's and women's choirs combined at Midnight mass and at the principal mass of Christmas morning.  Our devoted choir was a sign that our parish was committed to God and was willing to sacrifice many hours of practice to help lift our hearts through music and song.

Perhaps Henry David Thoreau said it best. "When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest." Music not only reminds us how important our bodies and senses are in an incarnational spirituality, it helps us to express a love that is beyond words. 

Today, pray for all those music ministers who remind us with St Augustine that we pray twice when we sing. 

What kind of music transports you beyond yourself?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Presentation of Mary

"He noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins...this poor widow...has offered her whole livelihood." Lk: 21: 2-4

How could a woman without any means of support let go of the little she had to honor God? For us humans it seems impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. God's grace enabled the poor widow, who had lost everything of value to her, to cast her lot with the God who had always been faithful to her despite her struggles.

Too often we think of the the total abandonment of the widow as an exception, but we should not. The Gospel promises us that God is all powerful and will take care of us, if only we trust God in every circumstance.  This does not mean that we shouldn't be prudent with what we do have, but it does mean we should not cling so tightly to our possessions, our health, and our property that we strangle the grace of God that is meant to free us.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our mother, said yes to God despite the risk to her own reputation and today's feast encourages us to follow her example. Saying yes to life however it unfolds is the best evidence we can offer others that God is always within and among us.

Today, made a simple examination of conscience.  Are you clinging to someone or something that does belong to you?

What do you think of the widow who gives her last two coins to the temple?