|Today is the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. It’s said that on her wedding day she sang in her heart to the Lord, and she was able to retain her virginity and convert her new husband to Christianity. He was baptized and then could see the angel who protected her.
Music can be very powerful. I personally came to the church through music many years ago. When I started college at the College of St. Mary in Omaha, I joined the choir. I had been playing guitar for several years then and had been singing, my mother says, since before I could talk. The sisters suggested that I sing for Mass, but I had never been to Mass. I hadn’t been raised in a religion. I hadn’t been baptized. But I went to Mass. And I loved the music. And soon I was singing for Mass with the choir, with my classmates, and on my own. And I converted to Catholicism when I was a sophomore in college. I sang in my heart, and in the chapel, to God, and he heard me and accepted me. Like Cecilia’s husband, I was baptized and converted. And I still love the music at Mass. I think singing is the purest means of praise.
In the first reading Judas (not that Judas) and his brothers are victorious over their enemies and restore and reconsecrate their altar with songs, harps, flute, and cymbals. They praise God and heaven with songs and music. In the Alleluia verse the lord says his sheep know his voice, and he knows them. In the gospel the people hang on the words of Jesus. The sound of his voice is familiar and restorative, and he recognizes our voices when we sing and when we pray.