Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Meaning Series: Daughter

"Daughter" is the one song on this upcoming CD that I did not write. As soon as I had fully committed myself to creating this project, though, I knew this was the one song I absolutely had to record. It has been deeply meaningful to me for many years. It tells the story of the woman with the hemorrhage and her healing encounter with Jesus, and is performed as a duet between Jesus and the woman.

It was written in February, 1986 by Julie Reuel and Michael Turriff. I always refer to Pastor Turriff as the man who saved my life when I was a teenager, and I've told that story before on this blog more than once. You can read it here. The song was written (or completed, at least) in the chapel of my college, where I just happened to have been lurking about when they were working on it.

When I first heard "Daughter" it blew me away. It was the gospel in full and living color, as if I were in the scene with Jesus Himself addressing me as the woman being healed. Deciding to record it scared me at first, frankly, because of the intensity with which it always gripped me. But when I approached it this year I quickly realized that it is now my turn to pass on this gospel at it was delivered to me. I can only pray that God will use it for others as He did for me.

Marie Hosdil: Unleashed

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Death and Power

I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. -- St. Ignatius of Antioch
This quote from Monday's Office of Readings for that day's feast struck me like a ton of bricks. It was like a light coming on, like suddenly finding a valuable tool in my hand. Death and power. The clarity was astounding.
St. Ignatius was a Bishop who died a martyr's death less than a century after the time of Christ. When you read the entirety of his letter, it is clear that his flock was intent on rescuing him from the death he knew awaited him. St. Ignatius was intent on blocking their rescue. It was his strong desire, which he knew to be in union with the desire of the Holy Spirit for him, to give his life in the Coliseum. He spoke of his death in Eucharistic terms, famously stating "I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread." St. Ignatius was not depressed; he was not suicidal. He was living his priesthood and knew himself as a sacrificial offering, in union with Christ's own self-offering. He preferred death not because of despair, but because of his hope in Christ and of his deep love for those he served. The sacrifice the Father called him to was to sanctify his Bride, the Church. 
And this offering is contrasted with power on earth. His congregation loved him, apparently, and grieved at the thought of losing his presence with them. They wanted to employ whatever they could to keep him with them. St. Ignatius also speaks of the temptation he faced in having his attention turned aside from God. Power over earthly kingdoms was one of the devil's temptations Jesus faced as well (Lk. 4:5-7).
How clearly these things contrasted in my mind when I read St. Ignatius' words. I prefer death to power, because this is the way of Christ. What are the tantalizations of power that draw me, or give me the opportunity to choose the way of sacrificial self-offering instead? Perhaps I am itching to blast some music and drift off into its beautiful comfort, but my daughter wishes instead to tell me her plans for a princess party. Perhaps I have dishes to clean, even though I want to use that ten minute window of time to check my email. Maybe my friend's opinion just begs for the bit of information I have that she seems to be missing. I think what registers as a self-serving power play can only be detected by one's own heart. But the key is that music, email and information are not bad things. They are goods. So are attention given to one's children, domestic service, and humility or restraint. This is not a matter of rejecting sin and choosing good. This is a matter of preferring death to power. With my whole being, I want that music. But I can choose to lay aside what I have the power to give myself to give life and attention to one who asks it of me. I want to communicate with my friends -- this gives me life. But laying aside what I have the power to give myself to offer quickly-forgotten loving service is worship of God. My knowledge can bless, but my invisible gift of respect and forbearance is a sacrifice of love done in secret. 
The truth is the way of death, the preference for death in Christ, is true Eucharistic power. What I want to call worldly power is a good, and has to do with conditions and outcomes that are reasonably within my control. Eucharistic power relies entirely on God because it involves giving unto death, with a focus not on what I desire to produce, but in it I am entirely entrusted to the will of Another. I cannot have an agenda in the realm of Eucharistic power, I can only entrust myself because of love. Struggle and strife is the result of anything less.
"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth." St. Ignatius was fully conformed to the image of Christ. May I too live that way.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sacrifice and Happiness (From "The City of God" by St. Augustine)

 This quote from St. Augustine strikes me today because it defines so clearly that sacrifice, or true religious worship, is not simply about doing good to others because doing good to others is so good. I mean, God is not up in heaven issuing his primary directive into our lives thus: "Now kids, get along together; play nice and share." That's not what He's about in the first place. That's what He about in the second place. The first place is our ultimate end, and the absolute only thing that brings happiness to us: union with God. No amount of do-gooding, or riding the "Good Ship Fellowship" will ever make us happy. Only our hearts covenanted to the Blessed Trinity will make us happy. Therefore, let every movement of our lives "effect" that in us.

Every work that effects our union with God in a holy fellowship is a true sacrifice; every work, that is, which is referred to that final end, that ultimate good, by which we are able to be in the true sense happy. As a consequence even that mercy by which aid is given to man is not a sacrifice unless it is done for the sake of God. Sacrifice, though performed or offered by man, is something divine; that is why the ancient Latins gave it this name of "sacrifice," of something sacred. Man himself, consecrated in the name of God and vowed to God, is therefore a sacrifice insofar as he dies to the world in order to live for God. This too is part of mercy, the mercy that each one has for himself. Scripture tells us: Have mercy on your soul by pleasing God.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Meaning Series: Come Into My Heart

I wrote the song "Come Into My Heart" over the course of three days, from March 30 to April 1, 1992. This was between the time I had committed to enter the Catholic Church, but about a year before I actually did so. The song was inspired, oddly enough, by a vivid and intense dream I'd had. It involved soldiers wreaking destruction on everything around me, except for when I stood in front of them and said (in German) "I am Christian. Jesus Christ." As soon as I said that, the soldiers dropped their weapons and walked away, powerless. What struck me in the dream was the incredible peace I had, despite the danger and despite the complete ravaging that my familiar surroundings had endured.

The song is written in the voice of Jesus, calling to an individual. So often evangelistic outreaches emphasize our asking Jesus to enter our hearts and be Lord there, but in this song Jesus asks for something different: He asks us to enter His heart and hide there.

Musically it is a very simple song, and quite plain. As with most of my music, my focus is not so much on crafting beautiful melodies or instrumentals, but on the lyrics. I hope the simplicity of the accompaniment draws attention to the sense of yearning Our Lord has for each of our hearts to belong to Him.
Marie Hosdil: Unleashed

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Bringing that 'Flying Crap' into the Light

Lately I have been just flat out making myself want to gag. When I go to say something, write something, my underlying feeling is: "Truly, who gives a flying crap, anyway?!" That's not to say that I'm going through a bout of poor self-esteem where all I need is a pat on the back of assurance of my worth. I think at the base of my feeling is an awareness of the profundity of Truth, of Reality, and my paltriness in comparison. Well, that and one other thing that seems to have come to light just this morning.

The vehicle of that realization was the song "In the Light" by Charlie Peacock. I like his album version so much better than what is on this video, but here's the best I can find on YouTube:

There was one line in this song as it played in my head this morning that caught my attention: "If I'm to lay down... then I'll lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. I will need your help" This line triggered a paradigm shift; it nudged me over from a natural to a supernatural perspective.

Let's see if I can explain.

When I was a child, God made me a promise. Or, to make that mystical statement seem less ethereal, I'll specify that a verse I was reading in the Bible seemed to leap off the page, grab my soul, and promise never ever to fail me. The whole of Psalm 10 gives the context, and is what I read, but it was verse 18 that grabbed me: "defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more." The psalm speaks, of course, of God's action on behalf of the downtrodden. But the specific way that this promise grabbed me, and what I wrote in the margin of my Bible, was that God would "break the cycle of pain." What that meant to me was not just that God would keep other people's evil actions from bothering me but, specifically, He would take me out of the inevitable pattern of being an oppressed person that went on to oppress others.

This morning as Charlie Peacock's lyrics about laying down one's life sang in my heart, a contrasting iconic image from my childhood was conjured up as well, which speaks to me of having security stripped away. Like so many of my generation, my parents were divorced when I was in the single digits, and the image symbolized that: we were hiding in the dark in our neighbor's house, watching my father making phone calls in our house. That memory has come to hold all the terrifying anxiety, all the unexplained confusion, all of the loss of security, safety, peace, protection and hope that my loss of family coherence was for me. That experience and that memory have cast a pall over many, many episodes of loss, real or perceived, in my life.

And this is where the paradigm shift comes in. I did have something taken away from me as a child. It hurt, and I didn't know how to deal with it. But the redemption of Christ has taken firm root in my life. Yes, He restores that which I lost, but He is not simply about making me fat where once I was starving. He never comes to rip my security out from under me, but He does ask me to give... to abandon all to Him. And He does not ask me to terrorize myself, destroying my own security. He draws me by love, empowers me supernaturally by "the light," to give my life for others, for what they need. As Jesus did.

So, I go to say something and I feel like "who gives a flying crap?" Well, perhaps no one. But I know and have experienced when just a scrap of someone else's life shared with mine has meant all the world to me, has filled me with the courage and determination to live and persevere through something hard. I know that there are people in the world, maybe even on my block, maybe even in my house, who are famished for love. And if each day with my morning offering I present my life to God, and He loves these folks with a dire urgency and has designed us to make real His love to other people, then surely even if it seems that no one gives a flying crap, surely I can persevere with His plan of being His love in this world, whether I ever see results of it or not. I know God wastes nothing. I trust Him with my life completely. I don't get to pick which good things He does on account of my cooperation, but I know that by definition of Who God is, He does the absolute best for us all.

So Lord, help me to persevere in sharing this life you've given me, even when I feel my insignificance. And help me to realize the profound significance and dignity of being your tabernacle in my daily life. Amen.


P.S. I realize now that the version of Charlie's song I posted here doesn't even have the lyrics in it that drew my attention this morning! Hah! I do wish someone would post his recorded, full-band version. So cool.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Meaning Series: Led By the Spirit of the Lord

"Led By the Spirit of the Lord" is a song I wrote in October of 1990, during an interesting time in my spiritual journey. I had been out of college for a year and a half and had just started my second "real" job post-graduation. I was happily and heavily involved at Risen Savior Fellowship, a charismatic non-denominational, independent, tiny church in Milwaukee which I had joined about three years prior to that.

A question had formed in my soul, a niggling, a prayer, a desire. (Deliciously dangerous, these kind are.) I truly adored the worship music and more so worship experience at Risen Savior. It was truly healing, and it was the deepest thing I'd known at the time. Certainly it was deeper than my experience with liturgy in my Lutheran church before that, which had come to feel like chains holding me down. But the niggling in my soul that would not be silent said to me that we were following a formula with our worship music, too. There was a predictable progression, and what was more, it was just as possible to go through the motions in this type of worship without any deep encounter with God.

That really bothered me.

Just a short time after I wrote this song, a matter of a few months at most, I was met with the impossible situation of three friends of mine converting to the Catholic faith, which made me begin to question all sorts of things. But for the moment, this song came to me as a series of questions about what it really means to follow the Holy Spirit. What would be left when self-effort was left behind? It speaks of a hopeful sense that a real answer to these questions existed, and that I would discover it.

Musically, what I've tried to capture is that while the Holy Spirit challenges us essentially to die to our own selves and our own ideas, He leads us to the fullness of life and joy. So this is a fun song. For me this means it is in the pop style of the 1960s. As I write, it is in mid-production, but I already love the sound. One thing I am learning in this process of recording is that the gifts of so many people contribute to a real transformation of the little song I offer.
Marie Hosdil: Unleashed

Relying on your own energies will wear you out

On the first of every month, our Lord gives Anne a new message about His call to service.

October 1, 2011


All is well, dear apostles. Does this statement console you, even as you look at the changes occurring in the world? Why do I tell you that all is well when you can see clearly that difficulties have arisen in many areas? I hear the prayers of My children asking that I send relief from the sufferings that afflict them and cause them to question their security and even their faith. How often I have to teach mankind that I am the only true security and that reliance on Me will bring peace and all possible benefit to each man and to the intentions of each man. In heaven's eyes, all is well, even as many suffer. Are God's children suffering with the benefit of the truth? Do they understand that I am with them and that I have overcome even death? My friends, if there are those remaining who do not understand the extent of My love, then your work is not finished. If there are those remaining who do not understand that joy is possible, even in suffering, and indeed especially in suffering, then your work is not finished. If there are times when you are afraid, then you must come to Me. I will protect you from anything that is outside of My will for you and for your work. Will you be overcome? Consider My authority, dear apostles, and do not consider the extent of your weakness. Never be distracted by the strength of your enemy because the enemy's strength is an illusion and even the illusion is fleeting. Be assured that I will compensate for your weaknesses as I compensate for your beautiful humanity which so endears you to Me. Where you are weak, I am strong. Where you are frail in your humanity, I add my divinity and what goes out from you is blessed and protected, but only if you are relying on Me. You will know when you are relying on yourself because you will be afraid. Consider how I conducted Myself on earth. I trusted the Father and I was gentle, going about My tasks in the day with conviction. If the Father willed it for Me, then I accepted it and saw to it as best I could. When I was rejected, I quietly moved on. When I was accepted, I offered the Father's love and gave to the fullest extent of the Father's will. Do the same, beloved ones. Do the same. I am with you and all is well.