Yaweh - The Brilliance
Yaweh, hear all Your children
crying out for peace.
Father, pour out Your spirit,
prepare our hearts for You,
prepare are hearts for You.
Dayspring, come in Your wisdom,
save us from ourselves.
Jesus, come in Your weakness,
bring hope to all the world,
bring hope to all the world
Hosanna, come save us.
Hosanna, come save us.
I’m currently sitting in an old-office-turned-study-room with an anatomy book to my right, a conducting baton and score to my left, my phone next to my elbow, a music history book on the floor, and the all-encompassing sound of a loud air vent I once tuned out that is now refilling my ears and making it hard to concentrate.
The world is a noisy place.
Even though I can make a list the length of the baritone saxophone of the kid who sits next to me in band, I’m not just talking about aural noise. Yes, the world is noisy with the sounds of people talking, cars passing, and music playing. But the world is also noisy in a mental sense. As students, we are constantly given theories and skills to soak up into our brains. We might not want all this information, but we sure as heck have to know it anyways. And the information we actually do want to know, we can get that with the swipe of a screen or touch of a button. And even then, some of the information we don’t even want to know. Like on Twitter, I don’t care if you’re trying to choose between eating an apple or an orange for a snack. I really don’t.
And continuing with the social media thread, not only do we get information, we’re giving information as well. We’re telling the world what we’re doing, where we are, what we’re thinking…we are contributing to the noise.
And I think it is because as society as a whole…we don’t like silence.
Not one bit.
Silence is defined in Merriam-Webster as a lack of noise. It has its roots in the Latin word “Sileo” which means to either be silent, keep silent about, be inactive, or cease.
I, personally, like the last two definitions of the Latin root. To be inactive or to cease. Because we live in world where you always have to be on the go. You have to be doing something. If you’re not taking in what the world is giving you and if you’re not giving out what you have (or don’t have) to offer the world, then what are you doing?
Well… I’m being silent.
It’s not such a bad thing to stop. To be inactive. To cease. Its a hard thing to do. Its really uncomfortable at first because it forces you to be alone with you, yourself, your failures, your successes, and your fears. But through the discomfort, you begin to realize who you are at this very moment. Not who you were before or who you will be in the future, but who you are now.
Now, this is not a bash on society. I am completely and fully guilty of making noise…. I have somewhat of an addiction to social media. I struggle with literal silence a lot, I mean, come on…I’m a musician. But I like silence. I had a lot of it before, but its been dwindling lately. Hopefully, I can become comfortable with it again.
If you haven’t heard already, there is a burger joint in Chicago, called Kuma’s, that has just released a new special called the Ghost Burger in honor of some Swedish medal rock band that dresses like clergymen. If the band’s attire isn’t ridiculous enough, just wait till you hear about the burger itself.
Its been nicknamed “The Communion Burger.” I read about it in an article by CNN. It comes with a red-wine reduction and a wafer on top. It looks like this:
As soon as I read this article, I was pissed. 1, because Kuma’s burgers are quite tasty (especially if you haven’t eaten all day and just need 10 ounces of meat) and I figured I’d be going there every so often once I move up there. Plus, they were pretty creative and witty with their metal-head related burger names. 2, because they took their wit a little too far and into the realm of distastefulness.
I’ve been trying to think of some sort of comparison to other possible religious plays on food. I got Torah Breadsticks, Bindi Dippin Dots, and it only gets more lame and inept from there. For the life of me, I really could not think of anything.
And I realized that’s because nothing actually compares and amounts to exactly how disrespectful this is.
Granted, the wafer on the burger is not the actual consecrated host. (If a priest agreed to consecrate host for a burger, I would personally punch him.) But it is still using the name of the sacrament that people participate in every hour of every day all over the world. It is not just a sacred item (like the Torah) or a symbol (like the Bindi). It is THE body of Christ. It is THE God who humbled himself to humanity and came down not just once as a human, but continually as a piece of bread…for the mere sake of just being with us.
The sacrament of Communion has now been reduced from a holy celebration where Heaven & Earth unite and time is transcended…. to a $12-14 burger with some discounted wine.
It may physically taste a whole lot better. But He’s never really been just food, has He?
"I am Home"
Here in the sacred
Here in the holy
Here in Your presence
I am found in Your embrace
I am lost within Your gaze
It is here that I am home
No matter where or what or who I’ve been
I am an incredible stickler for lyrics. If the diction is elementary level or the metaphors are recycled, I automatically dismiss the song…unless the musicality behind it or the rhythm underneath it is exceptional. Not because I am a snob, but because I believe in that songwriting is an art and art is meant to have some sort of an impact and words have a lot of power.
I’m taking a music history class and a modern poetry class this semester. And somehow, both separate classes and my lyrical critiques combined in my brain.
Gregorian chant is often under appreciated because all it is…is chant. Its a voice chanting latin vernacular that most of us wouldn’t know. Like, can please get some rhythm or instruments up in here? There is rhythm, but its not metered. They use the natural rhythm of the spoken words instead. They didn’t use any instruments because instruments used to be associated with paganism and they thought it would take away from the praise and glorification of God.
W.B. Yeats wrote in his poem Adam’s Curse “A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought, Our stitching and unstitching has been naught….For to articulate sweet sounds together is to work harder than all these.”
Yeats wasn’t Catholic, but he had the same idea of the early Catholic songwriters before him. Putting words that sound sweet together is a very hard task. Not just words that fit or rhyme, but words that excite and entertain your ears like food that satisfies your tastebuds. Imagine the decadence of a white chocolate caramel macadamia nut cheesecake…mouth watering, right?
To me, that is how lyrics should be. Deep and meaningful. Words that truly describe emotions or thoughts or actions.
Let’s use the top songwriting topic of all time as an example. The angsty break-up…
Taylor Swift: I’m really gonna miss you picking fights, and me for falling for it, screaming that I’m right. And you would hide away and find your peace of mind with some indie record that’s cooler than mine. You called me up again tonight, but this time I’m telling you that we are never, ever ever, getting back together.
Kodaline: Over time our wires crossed. Well, you changed and truth got lost. All the things I would change if we could only rewind. You were a moment in life that comes and goes. A riddle, a rhyme that no one knows. A change of heart, a twist of fate couldn’t fix it. It’s too late.
I won’t bore you with my lyric by lyric analysis, but I will say that Kodaline makes a break up sound more beautiful than its supposed to be. Granted, Taylor Swift has a following and fame that’s probably 3 times the size of the indie band Kodaline, but still…
There are so many words out there. And so many ways to say them. To sculpt them. To juggle them. To paint them.
Why not explore?
When we say, “welcome to the library,” we mean, “welcome to the world.”
didn’t think a library could seem so cool.
If you somehow missed the memo, I’m a Catholic Christian. Born and raised. My parents joined the Couples for Christ family ministries when I was five and have been in it ever since. I’ve grown up in this ministry, from Kids for Christ to CFCYouth to, most recently, Singles for Christ. For the longest time, I thought that this ministry was the ultimate epitome of Catholicism. If you didn’t raise your hands during worship, if you didn’t like music during adoration, and if you didn’t have some sort of gift from the Holy Spirit, I thought you weren’t Catholic enough. That’s why I didn’t like programs at my home parish when I was younger, like The Edge and Lifeteen…I thought it was too much talk and fellowship and not enough spirit led worship. I thought it was watered down Catholicism.
But as I began to experience the changes and trials of being a Catholic in college, I realized I was utterly and totally wrong. I didn’t know that ‘Charismatic’ was a type of spirituality. I didn’t even realize that there were different spiritualities within the Catholic Church. I thought that to be Catholic was to be Charismatic. And if you weren’t charismatic enough, by God, I was going to find at least one song that would completely capture you during worship and help bring you into His presence. I would take that song and find more songs like it and try my hardest to change your posture, close your eyes, and open up your mouth in praise (maybe with mind powers or something? I don’t know).
I realize that this is how I was up until not even a couple of months ago. I was and still am very focused on music as a means of communication and revering our maker and anchor. But its not the only means.
And that right there is the beauty that my Love has been slowly showing me. Its one thing to have Christ reign all over the world through His presence in the Catholic Church, its another thing to have the Christ reign all over the different souls through different types of spirituality in the Church.
How beautiful is it that He can appeal to every single individual soul and still use all our differences for the sole purpose of bringing His glory to the world?
How beautiful is it that all of our confused, diverse, and disarrayed hearts can all rest in one kind and divine being?
If its possible, I think my spirituality may be changing. Or if that’s not possible, my spirituality is definitely broadening. Instead of always turning toward lyrics to guide me, I find a greater comfort in silence. Instead of just praying as the spirit leads me, I value the familiarity of structured prayer. Instead of just looking for Him in books and the local parish tabernacle, I’m beginning to enjoy the whole world as a tabernacle.
So forgive me if I ever tried to force Charismatic spirituality on you. And forgive me for judging you or your ministry too quickly. I just didn’t know anything else. I knew there were saints who practiced spirituality differently, but I didn’t know that people today practiced the same different spiritualities as well. So, be it Franciscan, Ignatian, Benedictine, or whatever spirituality you practice, keep on doing so. But don’t be afraid to dip your toe in another form. The water may be different, but they all flow into the beautiful ocean of His grace.
I was originally really hesitant about studying abroad this summer. As most of you know, I’m used to traveling with family, so I thought going to school abroad would be the same. When you’re on a family trip, all the little fights and annoyances of home, don’t stay at home. They come abroad with you. But the comfort of having people around you who know you best also comes with you abroad. Also, I had a summer camp job potentially lined up that I was really really looking forward to. But due to the persistence of my mom, I went ahead and applied. The copious amount of forms that had to be filled out and fees that came with it only contributed to my apathy about the whole thing. Even up to the week before going abroad, I wasn’t as excited as I should have been.
But as soon as I got to Galway, everything changed. I had a whole group of new friends from the awesome ISA program (Travelling with people around my age? What?! I have friends?!). I also wasn’t just consistently touring around places like I do when I’m with my family. I was taking classes, interacting with all types of people, and immersing myself in the culture. I got to dig deep into my long lost love for the arts of literature and film. I got to see the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. I even got to play a song at an actual Irish pub.
Yet the biggest thing I’ll take away from this trip is not the new knowledge Ireland or a slightly beat up liver, but a new understanding of people and how to relate. Because I didn’t do it through my home school, my program wasn’t run by Georgian professors…which is something I really liked. The Summer Studies program at NUI Galway brings people of all ages from all over the US to take classes from Irish teachers. So, in addition to the actual Irish people around the town, I was also interacting with people from all around the US. From the valley girl to the little old accordionist to to the naive youngblood to the city feminist to the humorous loud Irish man. It pushed me to interact with people I normally wouldn’t interact with. It forced me to look past the labels, find some way to relate, and just see them as people. If we don’t have the same views, try to understand each other, and if you can’t understand, don’t make it a barrier.
This month is a month that I’ll never forget. Thank you for everyone that was involved in it…whether you made the actual program happen or you were part of the ride. A really big shout out to Dermott and Mark who helped us ridiculous Americans with everything. I couldn’t ask for better resident directors.
So, if you’re hesitant about going abroad, don’t be. Just go. The amount of money it costs wont even compare to the priceless experiences you will have.
Derm derm and marky mark!
Most of us at our last excursion of the program. We roll deep, yo.
ISA Studies Abroad. Galway. Summer 2013.