Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Prayer through music

Music speaks to me. I've always been around music and always have some tune in the back of my mind. I even chose St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, as my confirmation saint in 8th grade. An extensive aptitude test that I took in high school told me I need to have music in my life, whether as a hobby or a profession. Since my main hobby is dance (and I actually dance for work on occasion), that's not too difficult. :)

Dance has been my passion since I was 10 years old...well probably longer, as I have evidence of my balletic tendencies in a picture from 2nd grade. Sometimes I've just gotta dance (like Gene Kelly exclaims in Singin' in the Rain). Every once in a while I'll put on Pandora and just let myself move through the space, to express whatever it is my heart decides. There's such freedom in movement without objective or structure, feeling the rhythm of the song and responding to it naturally. It's when I become fully me, fully alive. I relish those moments, and they energize me to take initiative or persevere through trials.

I get the same feeling from singing hymns or Praise & Worship music, not all the time, but when I'm truly present and conscious of the words I'm singing. I smile at St. Augustine's quote:
 Those who sing pray twice.
I believe it. Praying through song not only lifts your thoughts to God; it also lifts your voice to Him. There are so many different hymns and Christian songs out there, and I've always found one that resonates with my feelings-of-the-moment, whatever those happen to be.

Songs can move me to tears, like Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella". Every time.

Other songs pull at my heart each time I hear them. The two that always touch me, no matter where I am in life, are Casting Crown's "Who Am I" and Jeremy Camp's "Walk By Faith".

I will forever be Dad's little girl, so "Cinderella" reminds me of how I've grown up with his constant love and support, no matter how busy our lives have become or how far away from home I've moved.

The other two songs are so powerful because they get back to the core of life and faith. They give me that sense of freedom like dancing around my living room. They speak to my heart and my very being. If everything else goes wrong, those are still solid: belonging to God and walking in faith.

At least three other songs have popped into my head and branched into separate streams of thought while I've been writing this, but I'll save the details for another day. I don't want my writing to be a jumbled mess like my mind can be. Because songs evoke such strong emotional reactions and complex thoughts from me, I draw inspiration from them. That's why most of my prayer journal is based on song lyrics; I'll have something in my head and need to express what it says to me.

All of this is just a long-winded way of saying two things: that I chose to base my blog title on St. Augustine's quote because of my attachment to music, and that most of my posts will probably be named after the lyrics of a song and will contain the thoughts sparked by those songs repeating themselves in my head.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Introduction and Purpose

I've done a lot of reading recently and consequently have been considering what I'm doing in life that is meaningful. After reading about Viktor Frankl (article here) as well as finishing the last chapter of Style, Sex, & Substance (written by Catholic women bloggers), I got to thinking about creating my own blog. I've kept a prayer journal off and on in the past few years, and although the pages are full of my most private musings, I'm starting to think they should be accessible to others. Mostly, I want to give food for thought to my group of Catholic women who sustain me and who already know me better than most. If others read this and find inspiration, I will be overjoyed that the faith I've been given has made a difference to someone else.

Meaning. I know life's purpose is "to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy forever with Him in the next". Yes, that is directly from the criticized Baltimore Catechism, but it really sums things up well and provides an easy phrase to remember and refer back to. I may be a cradle Catholic, but I didn't learn from the Baltimore Catechism growing up. I still find value in the truths it contains, even if the methods were questioned. So there's a clear purpose to life, but it can be difficult to translate that into career choices, daily chores, and every day decisions.

One quote that has been sticking in my mind recently is from C.S. Lewis:
How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.
 In our quest for purpose, the saints provide examples but not a step-by-step guide to life. They each carried out different missions and bettered the world using their unique talents. It sounds like there's a clearly laid out path to becoming a tyrant (I wouldn't try it though!)...it's much more difficult to determine how to be a saint. We're left to our own devices to figure out how our uniqueness can be used to further life's purpose. No two people were created to do the same work; we each have a role to play, and it's up to each of us to fulfill our own destiny...with help from others along the way!