Memorial of St. Cecilia
1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59
"Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it. . . it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals." 1 Maccabees 4:36; 54
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. She is the patron saint of musicians and according to Wikipedia, "has become a symbol of the conviction that good music is an integral part of liturgy."
As a music group leader at our parish, I whole-heartedly agree that good music is key to making our worship more meaningful. Music touches us in a way that nothing else can. I love that at many Catholic churches we have different kinds of music at different masses. I think that’s one of the strengths of our church as some people are moved by one kind of music, and some by music with a different flavor. Even different instruments create different moods and all can be used effectively to help people draw near to God and experience His presence.
God can also use the lyrics of the songs to minister to us. Recently I was heartsick and worried about a situation and that day at mass as I poured out my heart to God, every song touched me in some way. One song especially spoke to me: "Here I am standing right beside you. Here I am do not be afraid." Wow, each time we sang that refrain, I knew more and more that God was with me, that He was in control , that I could trust Him and didn’t need to be afraid.
On Saturday nights, we invite people to come to church fifteen minutes before mass for praise and worship music. These songs focus on the attributes of God and help us center ourselves and open our hearts to God’s presence with us. I believe singing these songs prepares us to engage more fully in mass. I also take the liberty of lowering the key of many songs, to make them more accessible to the congregation. I’ve been told many, many times that people are very happy to have the music in a key that allows them to sing along.
So today let’s celebrate the gift of music and say thank you to our music ministers in all of our churches. We appreciate all you do to help us worship more fully and enter more deeply into the amazing prayer that is our mass. God bless you! We also praise God for the community of saints who have gone before us and are now cheering us on to the finish line. St. Cecilia pray for us!
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Janice also leads women’s retreats and recently wrote her first book: God Speaks to Ordinary People – Like You and Me. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].