I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always sing out of love for God. We all know how easy it is to let ourselves mouth the words to hymns we’ve had memorized since childhood, and as someone whose entire ministry revolves around preparing the music for Mass, the problem becomes larger. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realized halfway through the Gloria that I’m still playing the music, but I have no idea how I got there, kind of like when you’re driving and you realize suddenly that you’re turning into your driveway but don’t remember the rest of the drive at all. (Just me?) In fact, at Christmas last year, I straight-up forgot to play the third verse of the Gloria! Talk about embarrassing.
I know intellectually how important music is to the Mass. I know that it expresses our community, the sacramental presence of God to His people, how it can strengthen the faith of the congregation and foster prayer. Music has the power to draw people deeper into prayer and proclaim Christ’s presence powerfully. But even with that knowledge, it’s hard to drum up the actual emotion of love for God through music on my own. In fact, I can’t do it.
As crazy stressful as the Advent and Christmas season can be for me with this job, I absolutely love it because in many ways, the season forces me to slow down and re-encounter the Lord who I began to sing for in the first place. I had the joy of being able to lead music for adoration at the high school retreat this past weekend, but getting to that retreat in the first place was a nightmare. I had a fever last week, 5000 things to do to make sure all the musicians were ready for the music changes for Advent, and tons of prep work to do for upcoming events. But the Lord showed up and renewed me over the weekend in a way that a weekend alone never could have because as I played and sang before Him in adoration, he showered me with His love, and I felt the peace and love that only comes through Grace.
With that grace as my foundation, I’ve been asking the Lord to help make this advent and all the parish events I’m helping with to be ways for me and all those participating to encounter His love. I’m particularly excited for an event this Tuesday, December 12 at 7:00 called “Come Light our Hearts,” which will feature an hour of scripture readings and music from each of MHT’s choirs.
The program has 9 readings which recount the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, and the Incarnation, each followed by a song for reflection. I love moments like this that allow me to step back and see God’s plan through salvation history. It’s similar to being stuck in circumstances where we don’t understand what’s going on or why someone’s acting a certain way, but later we heard the story behind the situation and everything made sense. It’s so much easier to be patient with a person or situation when you have an understanding of who they are and why things happened as they did. I often need that perspective because when I’m feeling burnt out or frustrated with the Lord, it helps me to step back and see his faithfulness both throughout salvation history and throughout my own life.
Seasons like Advent and Christmas, if I hand them over to the Lord and ask for His healing, help bring the the music I sing back to being a song of love instead of a repetitive task. I want to encourage you to allow the Lord to renew you in that way as well. Whether you come to “Come Light our Hearts” this week, sing in the adult choir for 9PM Christmas Eve Mass (there’s still time if you’re interested!), or simply sing at Mass as a part of the congregation, I pray that Christ’s love would move in your hearts.
God bless, Kayla