November 22, 2010
vol 21, nos. 326
Saint Cecilia: Modest Melody of Pure Love
Meditation on the Symphonic Treasure of the Temple of the Holy Ghost
The feast and example of the holy virgin and martyr St. Cecilia can easily get lost, even by traditional Catholics, in the hype of the rush up toward Thanksgiving and Black Friday when materialism raises its ugly head in the greed that manifests itself in the build up toward Christmas where the Reason for the season is totally obliterated in an unadulterated rush toward temporal instant gratification to feed every sense of the body while totally ignoring the welfare of the soul. Hopefully we can take time to study this dedicated saint who realized one drop of water was not more important than the unending ocean of everlasting life and, though possessing a fallen human nature as we all do, she thirsted more for Christ than mortal man. For her perseverance and unyielding chastity her thirst was quenched; yes, through the glorious blood of this martyr, God provided the edification for countless souls to join her in Heaven. Today? The question is have we forgotten that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of Christianity? Considering no one wants to be martyred for Christ today, no wonder Christianity is in decline. We can learn much from this saint and her virtues of chastity.
"In an age so blindly abandoned as ours to the worship of the senses, is it not time to protest, by the strong lessons of our faith, against a fascination which even the children of the promise can hardly resist? Never since the fall of the Roman Empire have morals, and with them the family and society, been so seriously threatened. For long years literature, the arts, the comforts of life, have had but one aim: to propose physical enjoyment as the only end of man's destiny. Society already counts an immense number of members who live entirely a life of the senses. Alas for the day when it will expect to save itself by relying on their energy! The Roman Empire thus attempted several times to shake off the yoke of invasion: it fell, never to rise again."
Dom Prosper Gueranger
When considering how today's society makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like a Traditional Trappist Monastery I was looking for a way to pacify the anger I feel over the lack of justice in the world. I see what purports to be the Catholic Church repeatedly commit blasphemies in the most Holy Name of Christ both in her body and in her head in her liturgy and in the teaching and acts of her leader, Father Joseph Ratzinger, as he believes in a Church of Christ which is not one and the same as the Roman Catholic Church; a Bible that is not infallible; a resurrection, not of bodies, and the right and even the duty of all who call themselves Catholic to break the First Commandment by worshiping in false religions.
I see the naked and unashamed traipsing about in public the way even the least moral women only a few decades ago would only dare appear at their honeymoon. I see judges making up the rules or "laws" as they go along so that the citizens of our Country may be more effectively tyrannized. I see politicians who care more about their specialized "needs" than the common good and the corruption from top to bottom of seemingly every institution that exists. I see the usurious greed of all the monopolies who act like they are doing you a favor as they rob blind in exchange for bad service, the compounded interest that makes home-buyers pay double and the excessive taxation that makes it virtually impossible for the middle-class family to ensure financial security for their offspring and puts their own ability avoid homelessness in peril.
I see holy chastity or virginity being referred to as "coo-coo" and the most holy Sacrament of Matrimony mocked by divorced and "re-married" couples, those who use the marital act solely for their personal gratification at the expense of potential immortal souls who would be destined to spend all eternity with God and I see the "civilized" elite calling for and approving of same sex "marriage" which encourages and "normalizes" one of the four sins that cry to God for vengeance. Just this week a Pew Research said 4 out of 10 no longer believe in marriage and divorce is accepted today as if one is merely changing wardrobes.
I do not see a willingness to die for the faith or to even suffer the slightest for it but rather a complete willingness to affirm others in their errors and their path to Hell. The horror story I paint is reality unexaggerated and it is only getting worse.
In these horrible times of the technologically advanced and amoral idiot we have nowhere to look for inspiration and comfort but the Real Presence of Christ in the scattered traditional Churches and in the Saints. With that in mind I thought I would share writings on Saint Cecilia from found in The Liturgical Year:
The Church recognizes and honours in St. Caecilia three characteristics, which, united together, distinguish her among all the blessed in heaven, and are a source of grace and an example to men. These three characteristics are, virginity, apostolic zeal, and the superhuman courage which enabled her to bear torture and death. Such is the threefold teaching conveyed by this one Christian life.
In an age so blindly abandoned as ours to the worship of the senses, is it not time to protest, by the strong lessons of our faith, against a fascination which even the children of the promise can hardly resist? Never since the fall of the Roman Empire have morals, and with them the family and society, been so seriously threatened. For long years literature, the arts, the comforts of life, have had but one aim: to propose physical enjoyment as the only end of man's destiny. Society already counts an immense number of members who live entirely a life of the senses. Alas for the day when it will expect to save itself by relying on their energy! The Roman Empire thus attempted several times to shake off the yoke of invasion: it fell, never to rise again.
Yes, the family itself, the family especially, is menaced. It is time to think of defending itself against the legal recognition, or rather encouragement, of divorce. It can do so by one means alone: by reforming and regenerating itself according to the law of God, and becoming once more serious and Christian. Let marriage, with its chaste consequences, be held in honour; let it cease to be an amusement or a speculation; let fatherhood and motherhood be no longer a calculation, but an austere duty: and soon, through the family, the city and the nation will resume their dignity and their vigour.
But marriage cannot be restored to this high level unless men appreciate the superior element, without which human nature is an ignoble ruin: this heavenly element is continence. True, all are not called to embrace it in the absolute sense; but all must do honour to it, under pain of being 'delivered up,' as the apostle expresses it, 'to a reprobate sense.' [Rom. i.28] It is continence that reveals to man the secret of his dignity, that braces his soul to every kind of devotedness, that purifies his heart and elevates his whole being. It is the culminating-point of moral beauty in the individual, and at the same time the great lever of human society. It is because the love of it became extinct that the ancient world fell to decay; but when the Son of the Virgin came on earth, He renewed and sanctioned this saving principle, and a new phase began in the destinies of the human race.
The children of the Church, if they deserve the name, relish this doctrine, and are not astonished at it. The words of our Saviour and of His apostles have revealed all to them; and, at every page, the annals of the faith they profess set forth in action this fruitful virtue, of which all degrees of the Christian life, each in its measure, must partake. St. Caecilia is one example among others offered to their admiration. But the lesson she gives is a remarkable one, and has been celebrated in every age of Christianity. On how many occasions has Caecilia inspired virtue or sustained courage; how many weaknesses has the thought of her prevented or repaired! Such power for good has God placed in His saints that they influence not only by the direct imitation of their heroic virtues, but also by the inductions which each of the faithful is able to draw from them for his own particular situation.
The second characteristic offered for our consideration in the life of St. Caecilia is that ardent zeal, of which she is one of the most admirable models; and we doubt not that here too is a lesson calculated to produce useful impressions. Insensibility to evil for which we are not personally responsible, or from which we are not likely to suffer, is one of the features of the period. We acknowledge that all is going to ruin, and we look on at the universal destruction without ever thinking of holding out a helping hand to save a brother from the wreck. Where should we now be, if the first Christians had had hearts as cold as ours? If they had not been filled with that immense pity, that inexhaustible love, which forbade them to despair of a world, in the midst of which God had placed them to be the 'salt of the earth'? Each one felt himself accountable beyond measure for the gift he had received. Freeman or slave, known or unknown, every man was the object of a boundless devotedness for these hearts filled with the charity of Christ. One has but to read the Acts of the Apostles and their Epistles, to learn on what an immense scale the apostolate was carried on in those early days; and the ardour of that zeal remained long uncooled. Hence the pagans used to say: 'See how they love one another!' And how could they help loving one another? For in the order of faith they were fathers and children.
What maternal tenderness Caecilia felt for the souls of her brethren, from the mere fact that she was a Christian! After her we might name a thousand others, in proof of the fact that the conquest of the world by Christianity and its deliverance from the yoke of pagan depravity are due to such acts of devotedness performed in a thousand places at once, and at length producing universal renovation. Let us imitate, in something at least, these examples to which we owe so much. Let us waste less of our time and eloquence in bewailing evils which are only too real. Let each one of us set to work, and gain one of his brethren: and soon the number of the faithful will surpass that of unbelievers. Without doubt, this zeal is not extinct; it still works in some, and its fruits rejoice and console the Church; but why does it slumber so profoundly in so many hearts which God had prepared to be its active centres?
Caecilia, a Roman virgin of noble origin, was brought up from her infancy in the Christian faith and vowed her virginity to God. Against her will, she was given in marriage to Valerian; but on the first night of the nuptials she thus addressed him: Valerian, I am under the care of an angel, who is the guardian of my virginity; wherefore beware of doing what might kindle God's wrath against thee. Valerian moved by these words respected her wishes, and even said that he would believe in Christ if he could see the angel. On Caecilia telling him that this could not be unless he received baptism, he, being very desirous of seeing the angel, replied that he was willing to be baptized. Taking the virgin's advice, he went to Pope Urban, who on account of the persecution was hiding among the tombs of the martyrs on the Appian Way, and by him he was baptized.
Then returning to Caecilia, he found her at prayer, and beside her an angel shining with divine brightness. He was amazed at the sight; but as soon as he had recovered from his fear, he sought out his brother Tiburtius; who also was instructed by Caecilia in the faith of Christ, and after being baptized by Pope Urban was favoured like this brother with the sight of the angel. Both of them shortly afterwards courageously suffered martyrdom under the prefect Almachius. This latter next commanded Caecilia to be apprehended, and commenced by asking her what had become of the property of Tiburtius and Valerian.
The virgin answered that it had all been distributed among the poor; at which the prefect was so enraged, that he commanded her to be led back to her own house, and put to death by the heat of the bath. When, after spending a day and a night there, she remained unhurt by the fire, an executioner was sent to dispatch her; who, not being able with three strokes of the axe to cut off her head, left her half dead. Three days later, on the tenth of the Kalends of December, she took her flight to heaven, adorned with the double glory of virginity and martyrdom. It was in the reign of the emperor Alexander. Pope Urban buried her body in the cemetery of Callixtus; and her house was converted into a church and dedicated in her name. Pope Paschal I translated her body into the city together with those of Popes Urban and Lucius, and of Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, and placed them all in this church of St. Caecilia.
I would like to close my article on this Saint whose exemplary virtue of chastity is an antidote we can avail ourselves to by asking her intercession and being spurred on by her example with an excerpt from Step Fifteen of Catholicism Made Simple in Seven Ways to Lose One's Soul:
Lust is the inordinate seeking of the pleasures of the flesh. Lust defiles a man as no other sin does. It degrades man to the level of the beast. Pride is the sin committed by lucifer, avarice by Judas, and lust by the brute. Of all vices, lust is most severely punished on earth. It leads to loss of health and reason. It was the cause of the Deluge. It was the cause for the destruction with fire and brimstone of Sodom and Gomorrha. "But immorality and every uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becomes saints" (Ephesians 5:3). The Blessed Mother Mary has imparted to many, many saints, visionaries and messengers over the centuries that there are more people in hell for sins of the flesh than any other sin. She affirmed this at Fatima and have heard of the visions of hell from the visionaries of Fatima as well as other saints, most notably St. John Bosco.
Those tempted to lust should remember that man was made in the image and likeness of God. Will they so rashly destroy that image, to make themselves like to beasts? In fact, beasts are better than lustful men, for beasts act in that manner from instinct; they have no soul like God. Chastity is the virtue opposed to lust.
Impurity weakens the will and darkens the understanding. For this reason amendment is very difficult, and the sinner falls into many other sins. So Solomon, who yielded to lust, finally lost all his wisdom and turned to worship false gods.
From lust spring jealousy, hatred, murder, loss of faith, breakup of families, and other sins. The consequences of lust are seen in the case of Henry VIII. It was the cause of his apostasy, and his apostasy dragged an entire nation into similar apostasy. "For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (for that is idolatry) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). Lust is the self-destructive drive for pleasure out of proportion to its worth. Today, selfish instant gratification not only rules the roost but is the key reason for lack of self-control.
Sodomy, or sins against purity by persons of the same sex, is a form of lust and condemned by God. It is important to remember in these days of "political correctness" when homosexuals are trying to attain recognition and acceptability for their lifestyle that their lifestyle was, is and always will be sinful and can never be accepted as "right." It is one of the four sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance and God will have his vengeance for He is a Just Judge. Hate the sin but love the sinner, yet admonish always against the sin as Jesus said, Go, and sin no more." Remember one who is homosexual can be accepted as a child of God by rejecting the sin just as heterosexuals cannot lust after a person of the opposite sex or copulate with them outside of the sanctity of marriage. While that sin may not cry to Heaven for vengeance, it will keep one out of Heaven forever if one dies with mortal sin on their soul. It is good to remember always that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. But He, Who is all-Merciful, can take just so much before He delivers His equal Justice.
Cure Against Lust: CHASTITY
Abstinence is the best deterrent against lust and to do so takes being chaste. That means avoiding the occasions of sin in all aspects of society. Not easy today when we are inundated with sexual innuendoes, immorality, perversion, immodesty and indecency flooding our lives no matter where we go. While we cannot live as hermits away from the maddening rush because of our states in life that mandate we deal with the world we must remember two things:
1. We are in this world, but not of this world and must realize in this vale of tears that we are here for a greater purpose and only by following God's will can we accomplish what He has in store for each one of us. Many are called, few are chosen."
2. We must remember at all times our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost and treat them as such, assuring no harm comes to what God created or that we do not abuse our bodies or another's.
Considering the above, what is one to think of Ratzinger's latest scandal of his statement that is published in a book by the man called Benedict XVI to be released tomorrow under the title of "The Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times"? For those who have not heard, he said, "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility."
Responsibility? I think not! One can never condone a lesser evil and this isn't even a lesser evil. What Ratzinger long forgot is the spiritual welfare of the soul and all his pandering to the world only cements his legacy with the prince of the world. The darkness that has encompassed the world can be attributed in part to all that Ratzinger has wrought ever since he was instrumental in inserting the clause "subsistet in" into the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium as Griff Ruby so masterfully has illustrated in his thesis Down the Yellow Brick Road to Apostasy: The Lumen Gentium Syndrome.
Since that fateful day in 1962 the true Church has been eclipsed by the likes of those who have cast away Catholic truth and discarded the welfare of the soul for the temporal treasures that St. Cecilia gave her very life rather than succumb to the lust of the flesh and the temptations of the world. You know very well she would not recognize the entity that masquerades as the Church today and I conclude this by asking you, how would you respond to this noble virgin martyr if she asked you: "What happened to my beloved Church? Why do so many offer incense to false gods? Why do so many place such an importance on the fleeting things when their eternal life is at stake? Has the whole world gone mad? Have they forgotten that Christ is indeed merciful to those who abide in Him, but also most just in meriting due punishment for those who persist in sin?"
How would you reply? Then, the final question: Would you heed her advice and follow her example? Your eternal life could hang in the balance of how you answer in your heart.