Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


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Singing Out of Tune

song-to-singThat awkward moment when you’re at Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and of course all your favorite Marian hymns are being sung, and you just can’t hold it in and you let your heart sing (via your voice) and you look around and realize that everyone around you looks like they’re in pain. Then you realize that your singing is at fault. You feel sorry for them but no force in the universe can hold in your song.

Yeah, that happened to me the other day. I love my Momma Mary and I just can’t hold it in. I also love to sing! I’m also tone deaf and can’t carry a tune. God and I have a deal though. When I get to heaven He’s going to give me, even if its just for one song, a most beautiful singing voice and I’m going to get to do a solo in front of all the heavenly host to honor his (and my) Mother.

Here’s my point: God has created you, unique and amazing, even when you don’t feel like it; you are more beautiful and resplendent than the stars in all their glory. And you have a song to sing; a song that only you can sing. And it’s not easy as we are each so deeply flawed because of our sin. It’s like my singing voice. I know I have a song in my heart that wants to burst out of me, but it sounds so awful when it comes out. I think all of our good works, all the holiness we strive for… in our hearts and heads it seems so beautiful and good but in reality it’s still so out of tune with perfection. AND. THAT’S. OK. God doesn’t ask us for perfection, he simply asks us to sing. It’s up to him to make the music beautiful.

cat-screechingI honestly don’t know how he could ever make my song into something beautiful, but somehow, through his grace he transforms it from a screeching cat into a masterpiece. Because, well, he’s God. And because as a great saint once said (I think it was St.Therese), “One act of pure love is worth more than all the sacrifices of all the saints throughout the world.” In other words, the smallest, most insignificant act of pure love overwhelms the heart of Jesus, who is love itself.

And ultimately what is at the center of this act of love is a simple yes. A simple yes like Mary’s, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word.” When we say yes at the deepest part of our soul to whatever God wills, even in the smallest of actions, we overwhelm the heart of God. I can only imagine he looks on us as I do my beautiful 2 year old little girl when she tries to sing the Happy Birthday song, I’m simply overwhelmed with joy and love for her.

kid-singing

So I encourage you not to worry what the people around you may think of the song you sing, whether you’re feeding the homeless or simply walking away when the office gossip starts. Sing that song with all your heart.

microphone

 

 

* Whenever this song is sung at church I can’t help but imagine myself singing like Carrie Underwood. Those poor people around me suffer so much. But my soul MUST sing!!


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A Song Out of Tune

That awkward moment when you’re in the department store and a Christmas carol you love, which is actually about Christmas starts playing and you spontaneously begin singing along only to realize that not only are you singing out loud but you’re completely out of tune. So you keep singing but slowly decrease in volume so everyone thinks you meant to sing out loud and out of tune. Of course, I’m always out of tune so that part doesn’t really bother me anymore. In fact, I’ve stopped even trying to sing in tune now.

That same thing happens in our spiritual lives too doesn’t it? We get out of tune spiritually, through our active choices to sin, our passive choices to watch T.V. instead of pray, through someone else’s actions that hurt us and dislodge us from our comfortable and routine faith. Sometimes it’s a combo of all of the above hitting us at once. But whatever the reason, we get knocked out of tune with God and often don’t even realize it. We’re just walking through the aisle of life singing along and suddenly look up and realize we not even singing the same song anymore.

Choir

I’ve known so many young people who started out singing the most beautiful song with their lives only to lose the song along the way; I was one of them. I was blessed though to encounter some truly remarkable “singers” along the way who helped me get back in tune. Probably the most important lesson they taught me was that of regular confession. Nothing in this life can retune your song as quickly or effectively as confession. Of course, by itself Reconciliation isn’t sufficient. There is no simple silver bullet that’ll slay the howling wolf inside us and make our song perfect. God’s grace is sufficient, yes. But God, in his infinite wisdom, made our salvation into a beautiful symphony, not just a solo.

Just as everything in creation was designed to work together in harmony to bring about God’s glory, so to our spiritual lives. Reconciliation, spiritual direction, community life, frequent reception of the Eucharist, adoration, silence, humility, Scripture, prayer, trust and on and on, all play important parts in keeping our spiritual lives in tune with God’s song. Sometimes though, nothing seems to work and it’s a matter of faith, of placing one foot in front of the other, trusting in God’s will. It’s in those times where we begin to understand the meaning behind the words we sing. It’s like when you discover the actual words to a song you’ve been singing your whole life and they’re completely different from what you though they were. Then the song actually makes sense.

Dark NightIn those dark nights when you feel abandoned or lost, as you place one faithful foot in front of the other, you gain clarity. As painful as it may be those faithful, weak steps reveal to us the truth and depth of his love for us. His thirst for you is so utterly complete that he would risk losing you so that you could truly love him in return.

It is not that he abandons us in those moments but rather, he is drawing ever closer; closer to us than we are to ourselves. We just don’t feel or see it. Our emotions, beautiful gifts of God that they are, cloud our vision, are like static on the radio, distorting our song. So he clears away the static of our emotions and senses so that we can hear his song over us clearly.

But no matter where you are in your song, it’s wise to keep an ear out for the tune. It’s all too easy to get distracted or lost in our spiritual songs. And remember, it’s never too late to pick the song back up, even after it’s been dropped for the hundredth time, the thousandth time. That’s the beauty of His song for you… it not only sets the rhythm of our lives, it adjusts and incorporates those missed notes, dropped beats and out of tune vocals.

Matt Redman’s: “The Father’s Song”