Several years ago I watched a DVD about Church history where theologian Rev. Michael Himes made a statement that remains with me. He said that one of the reasons that Christianity has endured is the doctrine of the communion of saints. It is remarkable, he continued, that we are able to have “conversations” with people who lived in the 1300s, the first millennium and even the first century of the Christian era – as well as from our own time. That being true, we can find out what it has been like over the period of 2,000+ years for human beings like us to journey toward the God of Jesus Christ. The stories of “the great ones” are mixed in with some who are obscure but sometimes very engaging. And occasionally there is a named saint from a place close to us whether we live in Assisi in Italy (St. Francis) or Syracuse, NY/Molokai, Hawaii (St. Marianne Cope). Whether or not we are prone toward deep devotion to saints, I believe there is a sense of continuity in reflecting on their lives.
Today is the feast of St. Cecilia who lived in the 3rd century and was martyred in Rome for her faith, as were many people in that time of persecution. The stunning thing for those of us who are well aware of St. Cecilia as the patron of musicians is that very little is known of her although she is remembered as one of the most famous of the martyrs of her time. Perhaps that is because “singing before the Lord” is one of the most joyful of all spiritual practices. There will be many music festivals today at Christian churches and much fanfare as churches celebrate the feast of Christ the King this weekend. I, for one, am always grateful for good liturgical music (and any other good music as well…) and will sing my best at any opportunity today to give thanks for all the musical “saints” in my life!