The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Red.
Devotion to St Cecilia, in whose honour a basilica was constructed in Rome in the fifth century, has spread far and wide because of the Passion of Saint Cecilia, which holds her up as a perfect example of a Christian woman, who embraced virginity and suffered martyrdom for the love of Christ.
As with early martyrs, nothing much is known about Cecilia except her existence and her name; with the additional complication that so many stories have grown up round her that any remaining historical facts are obscured. No-one knows quite why she should suddenly have become popular in the middle of the sixth century, some 200 years after her death, and her association with music is also a mystery. It may be real, or it may come from the description in the Passion of Cecilia singing to God “in her heart” while the musicians were playing on her wedding day, or it may come from a linguistic confusion: where the Passion describes her being stifled to death candentibus organis, “with the pipes glowing red-hot,” this could have been misread as cantantibus organis, “with the organ playing.”
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)|
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Amos 4:13 ©|
He it was who formed the mountains, created the wind, reveals his mind to man, makes both dawn and dark, and walks on the top of the heights of the world; the Lord, the God of Hosts, is his name.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Amos 5:8 ©|
He made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns the dusk to dawn and day to darkest night. He summons the waters of the sea and pours them over the land. ‘The Lord’ is his name.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Amos 9:6 ©|
He has built his high dwelling place in the heavens and supported his vault on the earth; he summons the waters of the sea and pours them over the land. ‘The Lord’ is his name.