Jack and Cecilia

Forty-eight years ago today, the world lost three men-Aldous Huxley, John F. Kennedy, and C.S. Lewis.

Now, as you might have guessed, I love C.S. Lewis. (Hi, there’s a reason I named my blog after one of his quotes. And yes, I’m drinking tea now with plans to read a large book this weekend.) And Lewis preferred to be called Jack, so we’ll call him that for the duration of this post.

Now Jack is one of the strongest voices of reason in my life. I’d always loved him, but while I was in Europe three years ago, I grew to love Lewis even more. I was listening to some podcasts by Dr. Peter Kreeft and Kreeft loves Lewis. And I fell hardcore in love with a man who died about twenty-five years before I was born.

But he spoke Truth without fear, and I love that about him. His books, especially Mere Christianity and The Weight of Glory have been some of the strongest influences in my life. The quote below, which is from The Weight of Glory, has shaped the way that I view others in a profound manner.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations-these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendors…Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

Jack was wise and holy. He had an incredible imagination. (See The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.) Today, in fact, I had the opportunity to discuss my love of Lewis with a few of my colleagues over lunch when one of them mentioned that today was the 48th anniversary of Lewis’s, Huxley’s, and Kennedy’s deaths. I wasn’t the only one who knew that, and in discussing that fact (and my love of Lewis) I reminded of how important, how holy, and how wonderful Jack was-and continues to be 48 years after his death.

Also, Jack died on the feast of St. Cecilia, my patron Saint. I’m not sure why, but that makes me love him more.

Now on to St. Cecilia. She’s my patron Saint. She lived her entire life about eighteen centuries before I was born, and as far as I know, she died in her early twenties. I have no great soundbites (or really any at all) from her like I do from Jack. She was martyred by the Roman government for being a Christian. She is the patron saint of music. And I was named after her.

Three years ago, I spent November 21-24 in Rome. On November 22, my hosts took me to the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastavere  for the Vespers service that is held annually on the feast of the Saint. Being in the church dedicated to the honor my patron saint and having the opportunity to spend a few minutes in prayer in the crypt below the church where part of the saint is buried really strengthened my bond to my patron saint. For example, I want to have the flowers (white lilies, red carnations, and white daisies) that were on her tomb that day in my bridal bouquet if/when I get married. I was almost like meeting her; we were together and now it’s like I know her.  She is irrevocably part of me.

Jack and Cecilia remind me of one of the greatest things about being a Christian. We are connected to the Communion of Saints, to all of those who have gone before us in the Faith. Jack died 25 years before I was born. St. Cecilia died more than 1700 years before I was born. And yet, they are irrevocably part of me. We are joined by the Body of Christ, which transcends time and space and unites us all.

So, I’ll give Jack the final word.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

And St. Cecilia, pray for us.

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