As music played, Cecilia sang to God, ‘make my heart immaculate that I might not be put to shame.’ (Cantantibus Organis)
As the hours pass on a bright day, the sun shines through the stained glass windows of our chapel, illuminating different scenes in the life of our heavenly patroness, St. Cecilia. In the early morning, the eastern windows are lit. They tell the story of how St. Cecilia pledged her virginity to Christ and led her husband, Valerian, to his baptism. At midday the sun’s rays shine through the windows reminding us of Cecilia’s generosity, reaching out her hand to the poor. The afternoon sun floods light through the western windows of her persecution and courageous martyrdom. And at the close of the day, the chapel is filled with the reflection of St. Cecilia’s glory: the beautiful bride of Christ, now dwelling with God in heaven. The final window’s inscription reads, “The wedding feast of the Lamb has begun” (Revelation 19:7). Although hundreds of years separate us from this beloved virgin-martyr, here in our Chapel of St. Cecilia we are reminded that she is present, constantly interceding for us to the Lord.
Everything within our chapel reminds us that in this sacred space, earth and heaven unite. The words on the baldachino over the tabernacle read, “Here God dwells among men. They will be his people and He will be their God” (Revelation 21:3). The statues of Mary and St. Joseph, St. Catherine and St. Dominic, remind us of the heavenly intercession of these saints so dear to our community. The lives of St. Cecilia and St. Dominic are depicted in the exquisite stained glass windows on both sides of the chapel. The classical style architecture, sometimes referred to as “frozen music,” speaks the clarion message that this is a place sacred to the Lord. We let the very shape and structure of the chapel form our prayer and our lives so that the heavenly liturgy takes physical form on earth.
Here is where we celebrate the liturgy, joining our praise with the choirs of angels and saints in heaven. This chapel is the very heart of our life. It beats with the rhythm of our prayers. Here in this chapel we share in the Sacred Banquet of the Holy Eucharist. Here we enter into the contemplative dimension of our Dominican charism. And here we renew our fervor in prayer. As the scenes of St. Cecilia’s life remind us, we must sing the heavenly music and not be led astray by the luring music of this world’s distractions.
The sun’s rays, during the course of a day, reflect the life of St. Cecilia along the hallowed walls of our chapel. And we, as brides of Christ, strive to radiate Christ, the Son of God, in our prayer and in our lives. We pray that at the close of our days, we too may cry out, “The wedding feast of the Lamb has begun and His bride is prepared to welcome Him” (Revelation 19:7). Then, the earthly and heavenly liturgies will unite in the light of the Son.