Blessed Cecilia and Blessed Diana, O.P.

Today we honour the memory of two Dominican Nuns – Blessed Diana and Blessed Cecilia – both founding members of Saint Agnes’ Priory in Bologna – and both knew Saint Dominic personally.

Cecilia is responsible for relating nearly everything known about the personal appearance and character of Saint Dominic.  Blessed Diana corresponded with Blessed Jordan of Saxony and she kept all his letters which tell us about the early days of the Order and the preaching missions of the friars.  Both these early Dominicans give us an invaluable insight into the life of Saint Dominic and the beginnings of the Order.

Both nuns were beatified in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII.

Many of the best stories end in a final showdown.  Whether it’s the daring knight against the dragon, Aslan’s army charging toward the White Witch, or Luke Skywalker battling with Darth Vader; no epic story feels complete without a final face-off between the hero and the villain.  The showdown Elijah set up between God and Baal was equally dramatic.  It’s easy to read this story as a simple display of power: God’s might contrasted with Baal’s weakness.  But there is much more here.  Before raining down fire in an impressive demonstration, the Holy Spirit prompted Elijah to repair the altar of the Lord.  First, Elijah set up twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Israel.  Then, in case the symbol had been missed, he had four jars of water poured over the sacrificial offering three times—a total of twelve times.  And finally, in his prayer, Elijah invoked the memories of the heroes of God’s people: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Why did Elijah do all this?  Well, because the people had forgotten who they were.  Before he revealed God’s power to his enemies, Elijah needed to help his own people reclaim their identity.  He needed to remind them that God had set them apart for himself and called them to proclaim his greatness to the nations.

In the end, the people cried out, “The Lord is God!”.  They were able to proclaim the truth of who God is because they returned to the truth of who they were.  Silent at the start of the encounter, they came to their senses, just as Elijah prayed they would.

Thunderbolts from the sky are impressive, but God doesn’t want to terrify his people into obedience.  He wants to bring us back in love, not fear.  This is why we should never forget who we are.  Every day, we need to remember and proclaim that we are his people.  Then we will be able to tell the world that the Lord is God.

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