Hayley Atwell and an all-star cast bring St. Cecilia to life in new audio drama

The legendary life and martyrdom of St. Cecilia is brought to life in a new audio drama by the Augustine Institute Radio Theatre. Called Ode to Saint Cecilia the new audio drama was written and directed by Paul McCusker, who has a long history of award-winning audio dramatizations.

The six-part drama features an all-star cast of voice actors including Hayley Atwell (most well known for her role as Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as Ella’s mother in Disney’s Cinderella), Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones, The Theory of Everything), and Jamie Parker (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Valkyrie), among a full cast of top-notch actors.

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The Saint That John Paul II Wants Everyone To Imitate

Saint John Paul II declared only one “Doctor of the Church” during his twenty-six year pontificate. He canonized a total of 480 men and women and yet he only held up one saint as a prime example of holiness and teaching. That saint was not an accomplished academic or high-ranking ecclesiastic. Instead, it was the “Little Flower,” Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

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The Merciful Heart of Blessed Edmund Bojanowski

 [Blessed Edmund Bojanowski] is remembered as a good man with a big heart, who for love of God and neighbor was able to bring different sectors together, effectively rallying them around a common good. In his many-faceted activity, he anticipated much of what the Second Vatican Council said about the apostolate of the laity. His was an exceptional example of generous and industrious work for man, the homeland and the church. – John Paul II at the Beatification of Blessed Edmund Bojanowski, June 13, 1999

August 7th was the feast day of Blessed Edmund Bojanowski, a courageous and merciful man who was born into a noble family in Grabonog, Poland.  From an early age Edmund had a particular love of the sick and the many poor children in the city and countryside. He sought to spend his life working to serve their needs and was a pivotal member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Poland. 

Edmund was a very active layman who founded a “home for orphans and health services to the ill including during outbreaks of cholera, day nursery shelters for neglected children, libraries for the needy, and further activities to develop the religious, moral and cultural values of the people” (Source). He would also visit the sick in their homes and promoted the “Living Rosary.” 

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How Closely Should We Follow The Saints?

When we celebrate the lives of the saints in the liturgy, it reminds us about the importance of following in the footsteps of the saints who have gone before us.

For example, Saint Ignatius of Loyola is famous for his conversion that was the result of reading the lives of the saints. Here is a brief description of it taken from the Office of Readings for his feast day:

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One of Karol Wojtyła’s Closest Friends: Jerzy Ciesielski

“The call to marriage is also a vocation,a gift from God. I will never forget a young man, an engineering student in Kraków, who everyone knew aspired with determination to holiness. This was his life plan. He knew he had been ‘created for great things,’ as Saint Stanislaus Kostka once expressed it. And at the same time, he had no doubt that his vocation was neither to priesthood nor to religious life. He knew he was called to remain the secular world. Technical work, the study of engineering, was his passion. He sought a companion for his life and sought her on his knees, in prayer. I will never forget the conversation in which, after a special day of retreat, he said to me: ‘I think that this is the woman who should be my wife, that it is God who has given her to me.‘ It was almost as if he were following not only the voice of his own wishes but above all the voice of God Himself. He knew that all good things come from Him, and he made a good choice. I am speaking of Jerzy Ciesielski, who died in a tragic accident in the Sudan, where he had been invited to teach at the University. The cause for his beatification is under way.” (Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, emphasis added)

On December 18th, 2013, Pope Francis recognized the holy life and heroic virtues displayed by Jerzy Ciesielski, a devout husband and father. His cause for canonization has been underway since 1985, when the Archdiocese of Kraków began the process. Jerzy was a close friend of Karol Wojtyła, who as a priest was his university chaplain in Kraków. When he heard about his tragic death in 1970, Wojtyła felt that he lost not just a friend, but a family member.

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Why Should I Care About Saints?

It is clear today that, for young people, saints are fascinating—think of Francis of Assisi and José of Anchieta, Juan Diego and Theresa of the Child Jesus, Rose of Lima and Bakhita, Kisito and Maria Goretti, Father Kolbe and Mother Theresa and the theatrical works, films, comic strips, recitals, concerts and muscials that re-create their stories. Their example calls each Christian to be a pilgrim on the pathway of beauty, truth, good, in journeying to the Celestial Jerusalem where we will contemplate the beauty of God in a relation full of love, face-to-face. “There, we will rest and we will see; we will see and we will love, we will love and we will praise. Such will be the end, without end.” (The Via Pulchritudinis, III.1, emphasis added)

As Catholics, our devotion and admiration of the saints can be disturbing to most Protestants and sometimes it even gives scandal to our fellow Catholics. When our homes are filled with statues and pictures of holy men and women, the average visitor might be misled and believe we are worshiping false idols.  It could even look like we love the saints more than Jesus. Yet, that is far from the truth. In fact, the saints are the ones who lead us to Christ and a more devout love of God. In doing so, they are both intercessors and examples.

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