by the Most Rev. José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Homily from Votive Mass of St. Cecilia (transcript)
Dedication of St. Cecilia Hall
August 27, 2018


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am very happy to be with all of you today for this special celebration of the Eucharist. But still, as we all know, there is trouble in the Church. So it is good to be here with you to offer ourselves to God and pray for His church.

And the first thing I want to say is that we really need to continue praying for every person who has been hurt by the Church, and we need to continue to work to help them heal. We have many needs, the Church, for reform and renewal, for changing the ways we do things — especially for bishops and the clergy. For the deeper renewal, as I have been saying, what we need is spiritual. The foundation of every reform in the Church has been a return to Jesus Christ: His person and mission, His life, death, and resurrection — for us and for our salvation.

So let’s especially pray for that in this Eucharistic celebration, for a real, deep renewal in the Church and a renewal of everyone in the Church to strive for holiness.

Today we are invoking St. Cecilia as the patroness of music and musicians. And I was thinking that I hope that St. Monica is OK, because today is the Feast of St. Monica. So I hope that St. Monica doesn’t get upset with St. Cecilia! I think in Heaven, we all will get along.

So, talking about St. Cecilia, the legend we all know is that St. Cecilia sang to God in her heart on her wedding day that she might remain a virgin, and her prayer was answered. So in a special way today we need to ask for her intercession for the purification of the Church and a new spirit of holiness and chastity. There is, of course, more to St. Cecilia’s story, and I think today, through all the pain and confusion that we are experiencing in the Church, we need to look to her example as a missionary disciple and a martyr.

There is a little detail in that medieval collection of saints’ lives called The Golden Legend. It says that, from the time she was a little girl. St. Cecilia was in the habit of hiding a copy of the Gospels in her clothing, near to her heart. And she read the Gospels over and over. It’s a beautiful image, isn’t it? It reminds us that the heart of every saint beats with the words of the Gospel, with the words that bring us to know the person and the teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Every crisis in the Church is a crisis of saints. It is a crisis of Christians’ not living according to their baptismal promises, not striving for the greater things that we are created for. We are made for holiness: Jesus wants all of us to be saints, to be holy like He is holy. We know this. This is who we are and who we are meant to be. We know it. We need to set our hearts once more to really live it, to make progress every day in virtue, in holiness. Yes, believe it or not, we are all called to be saints — every one of us. It’s true.

Sixty years after the ending of the Second Vatican Council, we are still trying to understand the Council’s teaching about the universal call to holiness. What does it mean? How do we live our vocation to holiness in our everyday lives? In the first reading today, in the Book of Revelation (11:4-12), we see the Spirit of God enter into His saints, and then the voice of God calls them, as we heard, “a breath of life from God entered them,” then they “heard a loud voice from Heaven say to them, ‘Come up here.’” This is an image of the resurrection of the dead, but it is also an image of all Christian life. God’s life was given to us when we were baptized, and Jesus calls us to follow Him to the Father. A Christian life is an adventure; it is a beautiful pilgrimage, as we know. It is just living with love and trying to be good to others. When we live this way, it brings us joy, and that’s what God wants for us — He wants us to know joy and love.

This is how St. Cecilia lived. She was an apostle. She and her husband, Valerian, brought many people to the Faith. And they did this through simple and ordinary ways: by being good friends to people, by the witness of their ordinary lives. They wanted their home to be a church, a place where people come to find the truth about Jesus and worship the living God — a beautiful example for all those of you who are parents; for this is a beautiful image of what a Christian home should be.

Yes, we need to make our families and our homes a cradle for saints. We need to dedicate ourselves again to making every home a domestic church, like St. Cecilia’s. We need to ask for the grace to be committed to sharing the Gospel, to know the Gospel, as St. Cecilia did, to live the Gospel as she did, and to share the Gospel with the people around us. It is the greatest treasure that we can have. When we discover it, as we do, then we sell everything we have to own it. That’s what it means to be a disciple, as we know.

It is beautiful to have that personal relationship with Jesus Christ, isn’t it? That’s why we are here. But we cannot keep it just for ourselves. We need to share that — the love that we have, that we feel, that we can share with our brothers and sisters everywhere. And that’s what it means to be a missionary disciple, as we know. This is how St. Cecilia lived, and this is how she died.

That’s what we know, that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. And we pray today that the martyrs will give all of us a new spirit of sacrifice and purity for the sake of God’s kingdom.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is our beautiful destiny, the beautiful image that Jesus gives us today in the Gospel (Luke 20:27-40). He said, “They can no longer die. For they are like angels, and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.” This is who we are. This is our vocation as Christians, to be children of God, to share His divinity just as He shares in our humanity.

So today, let us make that our prayer in these challenging times. Let us be great saints! Again, let us ask for the grace to be great saints of the 21st century. Let us be heroes and healers. These times demand it, and this is what we are made for.

So may St. Cecilia help us to always carry the Gospel near our hearts. And may our Blessed Mother, Mary, Queen of the Angels, help us to always strive for holiness and to live as apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



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