Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism Session 12: Close Encounters

This week in Lawn Chair Catechism we're talking about charisms and how we use those to reach out and touch people who are on the way toward a deeper relationship with Christ. Feel free to join the discussion over at
Super cool pic of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Music is not one of these gifts, but that's my gift.
How does that work? 

The most obvious of my gifts is my singing voice. I have truly been blessed with a beautiful voice. I don't even really have to work at it. I've been singing since I was 3 years old and I have been in a church choir (in some capacity) since I was 7. Most of my prayer life revolves around music, in fact.  I find that if I am praying, often I am struck by a song and I feel the need to just let it out. Sounds crazy, I know, but it's the truth.

My husband tells me that music is my charism. I never really believed him until recently, but it makes sense. I hold an Associate of Arts degree, not in music, yet my musical career is full. God has placed me where he wants me. It wasn't where I expected to be and certainly wasn't where I thought I'd be as a teenager dreaming of the stage.

I use my music as a tool for prayer and catechesis. When I am selecting music, I try to make sure that the content is solid (as any good music director would) and I try to be sure that it will lead the congregation into deeper prayer as we celebrate the Eucharist together. When I teach a new piece to the choir, I go through the words and talk about what they actually mean. I encourage them to pray the words, not just sing them mindlessly. Sometimes I even suggest that they take the words home and pray them as part of their daily prayers during the week. As a result, often, I find myself in catechetical discussions with the members of my choir even when we're not at choir practice.

Music is Trinitarian in a way that no other form of prayer is.  When you sing a hymn, you are engaging your body (through the physical practice of singing), your mind (through the reading and processing of the words) and your soul (through the unification of the music and the prayer contained in the words). When I conduct, I immerse myself in the prayer that is music. I know that my conducting is not great. I know that I miss little details of the choir's "performance" that could improve it. But, I have found that if they are praying the song, not just singing along, God takes care of the rest.

Obviously, I disciple my choir members, but there is so much more I could do across the parish. One of the things that occurred to me is that I could write a short piece each week for the parish bulletin to encourage people to understand and pray the words of the hymns we sing on Sunday, much in the same way I do it for the choir.  Some of the old hymns that we sing regularly are so beautiful, but people don't understand what they are singing. Unpacking the meaning for them might unlock the prayer within the lyrics and help them more closely encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.

1 comment:

  1. Through the music ministry, you offer your heart and soul to God in thanksgiving.