Sweet Nov. 22

St. Cecilia statue
One finger. Two fingers… Yes! Christ: One Person, two natures (human and divine). Thank you, St. Cecilia, for teaching the faith even in death.

What an amazingly wonderful day today is! At Holy Mass, we read about the 25th day of Chislev. The 25th day of Chislev will arrive next week! This year our friends will light their menorahs while the turkey’s in the oven. And in church we read all about it today!

Not being a rabbi, I will offer no Hanukkah exhortations. But the festival certainly has to do with the altar—and during Hanukkah this year, we will have our first Mass in Martinsville, Va., with our tabernacle re-positioned at the altar! Too good!

They belong together of course: The altar of Christ’s Body and Christ’s Body. The altar and the sacrament of the altar—they belong together.

We read in Maccabees how, when the sanctuary had been purified, the Israelites prostrated themselves and adored and praised heaven!

But we’re not done recounting the wonders of today. According to the official history of the martyrs,

Today, November 22, at Rome, St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, died, who brought to the faith of Christ her betrothed Valerian and his brother Tiburtius, and encouraged them to martyrdom. After their death, being arrested by order of Almachius, prefect of the city, and exposed to the fire, from which she came out uninjured, she terminated her glorious sufferings by the sword, in the time of the emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander.

Our prayer for the day is:

Grant that what has been devoutly handed down concerning St. Cecilia may offer us examples to imitate and proclaim the wonders worked in his servants by Christ your Son.

Cecilia heard the music of heaven by an interior sense, which makes her the patroness of musicians. May President Kennedy rest in peace. May we play the song of a holy life for the glory of God in Christ.

Temple Consecration

As the liturgical year draws to a close, we read from the books of the Maccabees and from St. Luke’s account of Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem.

Reading these passages simultaneously sets up a breathtaking drama regarding the Temple. The books of the Maccabees recount a number of great acts of heroic fidelity to the Old Covenant. Above all, the accounts climax with the first Hanukkah, when the Maccabees defeated the Greeks, cleansed the Temple of pagan defilements, and reinstituted the divine service.

The Maccabees had brought off a glorious achievement in the history of God’s covenant with His people. The city of Jerusalem rejoiced. But the story was not over. It was 165 years before the coming of Christ…

No one has ever loved the Temple in Jerusalem more than Jesus of Nazareth loved it. When Christ, too, cleansed the Temple, as Judas Maccabeus had done before Him, the only words that could describe the moment were: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

But: The Temple of God is not a building.

The Son of God came to reveal many truths, and among them is the fact that God builds His Temple in the hearts of His beloved children.

If we seek the “Holy of Holies” outside ourselves, we will search in vain. The Holy of Holies can only be found where God meets me, where the light shines that distinguishes right from wrong and shows me the path to heaven. In other words, the Holy of Holies can be found in the invisible center of myself, where I pray and submit myself to the truth.