Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hail, bright Cecilia!

Today's saint, the Roman virgin-martyr Cecilia, has a special place in my heart, not least because she is the patroness of music and musicians, and I consider myself among them. Concerts are a popular way to honour her on this day and for some time I used to gather a group of musicians to put on a small recital on her feast day.

She is one of the few saints in the Calendar to be accorded a full Office, despite being only a memoria. The texts used in her Office are lovely, being taken from the Golden Legend and other older sources.

A particularly delightful antiphon, the third at Lauds in the pre-Vatican II liturgy was brought to my attention: "Caecilia, famula tua, Domine, quasi apis tibi argumentosa deservit" which translates as 'O Lord, your servant Cecilia served you like a busy bee.' This image of the bee, so sadly lost in the modern translations of the Liturgy, particularly the Exsultet, was popular as a figure of industry and has a long history of usage in literature, beginning with Aristotle. In the case of the antiphon above, the idea is that Cecilia served the Lord so very devotedly and fully throughout her life...

Pope Pius XII's address on bees is well worth a read and the 'Tales from the Hive' site is also worth a visit.

Finally, to return to St Cecilia, there is a wonderful setting of Auden's poem 'Hymn to St Cecilia' by Benjamin Britten which may be sampled here and I quote from this same poem by way of ending and prayer:

"Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire."

Given the state of modern Catholic church music, I would pray that rather earnestly!

The marble sculpture above of St Cecilia as she lays in her tomb is by Maderno and is found in her church and shrine in Trastevere, Rome.


Blogger happyguy7 said...

This is a pet peeve of mine: twice I've tried to get inside her church. The first time I couldn't find it and the second it was closed. I have a feeling she doesn't like me ;-).

1:41 pm  
Blogger Catholic Fire said...

This post was very educational and inspirational. St. Cecilia has been a favorite saint ever since I first sang in a choir about 40 years ago. I also blogged on her today. I enjoy your blog so much! As an Oblate with the Community of St. John, which was started by a Dominican, I feel as if we are related.

God bless you!

8:54 pm  
Blogger Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

The homilist at today's Mass said the same thing Dan. In his time in Rome at Sta Sabina, he tried once on her Feast day to get into the church and found it drearily locked up. I wonder why?!!!

11:56 pm  
Blogger happyguy7 said...

On her feast day? That is strange, maybe he had forgotten as I had that most churches in Rome are closed in the afternoon hours. The second time I visited I didn't plan it I just happened to be in the area after visiting Sta Sabina.

6:40 am  
Blogger Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

Dan, You're probably right. Check out for this year's celebrations!

12:14 am  

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