Friday, November 18, 2011

For the Brothers of St. Cecilia

This is the song I wrote for week five of my Autumn Songwriting Challenge.This represents my having learned to use a Grace Tape2USB machine, multi-track recording with Audacity, composing songs on keyboard (when I hadn't significantly played it at all since I was about 13 -- that was only hunting and pecking to play hymns -- and never when writing music) and using drum tracks from 
None of these undertakings considered alone was all that difficult, although combining them together in a short amount of time along with the commitment of writing an entirely new song every week has left me feel like I've been running hurdles. Hard work can be exhilarating, though!

The recording is very rough; timing with Audacity on my oldish computer is imprecise, and everything is done "live" with tape-recorder quality to the sound.. But writing the song made me very happy indeed.

This song is called "For the Brothers of St. Cecilia," with St. Cecilia referring to the Catholic patron saint of musicians. The lyrics are these:

When God in His holy will
Desired my life to fill
With love, mercy, peace and grace
He required a human face
Hands He'd taught to play His song
And a voice enough to sing along
So His melody could reach my heart
And I could sing my part

And I sing: ba nah nah nah nah nah nah....

Ten virgins waiting for their lord
They fell asleep 'cuz they were bored
When the moment came to be on task
Half had no oil in their flask

Gold refined in the fire takes time
Precious oil it buys is fine
God's the author of this whole plan
Saying, "Turn to me while you can."

That fire we walk into is love
But what fool would be fool enough
To live inside a burning flame
But this is where we find our life again

Holy Spirit come inflame our hearts
enkindle the fire of love
Recreate us all like you
This whole earth you renew

And so

When God in His holy will
Desired my life to fill
With love, mercy, peace and grace
He required a human face
Your hands He'd taught to play His song
And your voice enough to sing along
So His melody could reach my heart
And I could sing my part

And I sing: ba nah nah nah nah nah nah....
A special "thank you" to Neven Pesa for providing me with the right amount of pushiness to clear the cobwebs from my dormant songwriting creativity. Check out his music at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Don't the Wise Virgins Share?

I love it when a homily gives me a good answer to something I've been wondering about. This particular wondering in question was actually raised again in Sunday's homily, and answered by another priest (who was wondering about the same thing) a few days later.

Remember that parable of the ten virgins in Mt. 25, where five are wise and have their lamps stocked with oil and five are foolish and want to mooch off the others? And the wise ones tell the others to buzz off and get their own? So, what is that, anyway? Is Jesus' point something about non-equal distribution of goods and how if you don't work for something, you're screwed, and don't expect me to come along and bail you out? Would it be so hard for the wise virgins to simply say, "Fine, here's a little bit of my oil. Because I'm wise, I'm filled with generosity. We can share." But that's not what Jesus has them say. What is Jesus really advocating here?

That was the issue raised, briefly, in the first homily I heard on this gospel. The second priest, a few days later, preaching on another text, said he had been pondering on this in light of the other Scripture at hand and shared what I thought was a brilliant insight.

Don't forget, of course, that it's a parable. Stuff of this earth is important, but all of it has a sign value: it points to something greater, something eternal, something ultimate. This priest pointed out that the oil the wise virgins have does not represent something tangible that one person can literally be given by another. When the foolish virgins say "Give us some oil!" they aren't being denied because the wise women are stingy. They don't get what they want because getting what they want the way they are wanting it is impossible. It is like a couple in a troubled marriage looking at a happily married couple and saying, "We want your kind of love." Or a lazy man looking at a hard working man and saying "I want your self-discipline and initiative." Or a pilgrim in the journey of faith looking at a humble saint and saying "I want your relationship with God."

It is all well and good to want these things. In fact, these desires lurk in our hearts all along, and it is seeing the glory of God manifested in its various forms in other people that really brings these desires out and makes us feel them. But it is too late to start acknowledging them when the Bridegroom is at the gate and the jig is almost up. The whole point of the parable is that we have to start being honest with ourselves about our desires and our needs and our shortcomings right now. Confess these desires and needs to God right now, and enter into His process for getting from Him, the giver of all good things, what you need. He is the only source! When the moment of judgment comes (and God in His great mercy gives us many moments of judgment, of exposure of our junk, throughout our lives) it is too late to turn to someone and say, "You know, you seem to have it together with God. Why didn't you force me into what you have before this?" Is it not so easy to always blame someone else for my failing? Is it not easy to delude myself into thinking that all I have to do is loosely associate with some group I think is good to be counted as good? I don't actually have to invest my own self, do I? I can lose weight by watching Biggest Loser, right? I don't actually have to admit I am powerless and turn to God, do I?

In Revelation, Jesus says to the church Laodicea that they are to buy from him "gold refined in the fire" so that they can become rich. It is the same thing. 'Tis the season to review our lives as if we were to die next week. If you knew your jig was almost up, what would you wish you had done differently? Tell God. Talk with Him about a reasonable plan, and start doing it today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Feeling Abandoned

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

November 1, 2011


My dear apostles, I am with you. I am with you when you are working, and I am with you when you are resting. I am with you when you are at peace, and I am with you when you are unsettled. You are unsettled less and less, though. As I watch you, struggling for holiness and struggling for My will, I can see that you are advancing. You are becoming stronger and more sure of Me. Even allowing for your human doubts, I can see that you are accepting My comfort daily, which makes it easier for you to come through your trials with less suffering. The greatest suffering is, after all, abandonment. The greatest cross is that of being left alone while craving the comfort and love of someone who is dear to you. My friends, often there is confusion in human relationships which causes terrible suffering. This part of the cross is heavy, indeed, and I, Myself, suffered this. It is during these times that I comfort you with the greatest and most tender graces because I understand the confusion which accompanies abandonment. For Me, it was important to remind myself that My Father would not abandon Me. For you, this is also important. I will never leave you. If you feel that you have been abandoned by someone you love, either through death or rejection, then you must come to Me for comfort. I will remind you that in heaven there will be no tears, no grieving, no heartbreak. In heaven you will be reunited in love with those who also love Me. Never worry about those who have gone before you. Pray for them and trust Me. The family of God is vast and includes people you know and people you do not know. You will rejoice in heaven and, even now, heaven rejoices in you. Dear apostles, heaven rejoices in you at this moment, as you read these words and acknowledge Me as your King. In the world, the cross was My throne and you, too, are celebrated by heaven in your suffering. You will not be forsaken and you will not be forgotten. I will be with you and we will move forward with heaven’s goals for your life. Have courage, apostles. All of heaven assists you and protects you.