Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Alive Again

I witnessed something beautiful last night on my way to Lafayette that I wanted to tie into yesterday’s post. Yesterday I posted some thoughts from the Holy Father on the importance of praying for the dead and spending time at their tombs in the cemeteries, especially on All Souls. Well, as I was arriving into town, I drove through a stretch of road that passes between two cemeteries. On the right side, the non-denominational cemetery, and on the left, the Catholic cemetery. The right side was quiet and empty, but the Catholic cemetery was full of life. There were numerous groups of people gathered around the tombs of their loved ones, many with vigil candles. The cemetery was full of the living, praying for the dead. It was a powerful image for me and made me reflect upon the beauty of our Faith. The unity of the body of Christ and the never ending call to intercede for all souls in need of God’s Mercy.

Last night I had the incredible honor of sharing my conversion story with the Knights of the Immaculata at St. Boniface Parish. To retell the story of my conversion to the Catholic faith is something I do with joy, because not only can God use that to strengthen others in their walk, but He also uses the opportunity to remind me of how faithful He has been to me over the years. How He has always kept me within His sights, and has never failed me.

I have told my conversion story many times in the six years that I have been Catholic, but for some reason, sharing my journey last night made me want to go back and reread my journals from that beginning of that specific part of the journey. So late into last night, I was up re-reading my journals from 1999, and my first visit to the Monastery of Heiligenkreuz in Austria. I was overcome with emotion and gratitude. To see the love with which God has shown me, how He drew me to Himself through His real presence in the Eucharist, and how Our Lady was guiding and mothering me every step of the way...it is incredible. To see the moving of my heart and the stirrings that were just the beginning of my search for the fullness of Christ’s Truth was enlightening. To see my desire to be open to Christ’s Truth when it was revealed to me was encouraging, even when I had to struggle and humble myself to do so. To see my efforts to assimilate all that I was learning and experiencing I think can best be related to the experience of watching a sunrise...you can see light on the horizon and things start to be clearer the closer you get to that one moment when the fullness of the sun’s radiant light breaks forth into day. This is the same way that my journey to the Catholic Church began. I saw light on the horizon and caught glimpses of the truth of the Catholic Church at least five years before the sun burst forth into day and I was confirmed and received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. And yet God’s love it so patient and His mercy never-ending. I am so blessed. Looking back over the beginning of my journey to the Catholic Church has been inspiring and has encouraged me in my walk today. The journey is far from over.

By now, you’ve probably realized that I have a real appreciation for the musical genius of Matt Maher. His music, every single song, seems to accompany some part of my life journey. Today, I focus on a new song he released recently called “Alive Again.” It is, in fact, the title of his newest album. There’s a link on YouTube where Matt talks about the song, and his thoughts mirror my own and the conversion experiences I just mentioned. I thought you might enjoy listening to it, or you can read my summary below. The full video version of the song follows the lyrics.

May each of us, welcome Jesus into our lives to break through our deafness, shatter our darkness and wash away our blindness. May we each be open to that light on the horizon which leads us to the Son and may we truly be Alive Again in Christ. Amen.

God bless you!

(Summary of the Video)
The video takes place as Matt is driving through Tempe at 5:45am. Cup of coffee in hand, we are riding in his car with him as he takes us through town and then we join him on a climb up the mountain. He says this is his favorite time of day. Even when it’s dark, there is light on the horizon. According to Matt, the whole notion of waking in the dark, is something we can all grasp. “When we think of our life in Christ, it probably came out of a crisis moment when ever other answer failed and every idea we thought of didn’t pan out and so we started to ask deeper questions. “ For him, the sunrise is an allegory..waking up in the dark. You can see the light on the horizon but you don’t know where it’s coming from. In this, Matt sees the presence of God in world. You see the effects of Him everywhere but you don’t recognize the source yet.

This is the image that inspired the song. You can slowly see more and more light but you can’t see the sun yet. The second part of the song was inspired by St. Augustine of Hippo, who was probably one of the most universally agreed upon Christian writers. Augustine lived a very sinful life, but the mercy of God reached him, and later in his life he had a profound conversion experience and became a Bishop and now he’s a doctor of the Church. Augustine wrote a poem that says “Late have I loved you, beauty ever ancient and ever new.” As young man he went into the world in search of God but because he didn’t encounter God first in his own heart it was in the lovely places of the world that he basically got stolen away further and deeper away from God. For him this is a perfect analogy of Western culture as it stands right now. We dive deeper and deeper into world in search of God and beauty and truth and love but without God in our hearts the world ends up being the thing that steals us further away from God. In order to see the world for what it truly could be you need the eyes of Christ. Otherwise you don’t see the potential, you see just the brokenness...all you see is the reality of sin, and you don’t see the reality of grace. You can only see the reality of grace through the eyes of Jesus who lives inside of you.

When the sun breaks the horizon it’s like everything else around it loses perspective. And it’s kind of like why the early Church looked to the rising sun in the east as the strongest example of Christ because it really takes everything else over. And it’s just very compelling. There are not many objects in the natural world that could adequately describe what happens when God breaks into your life, but the rising sun is a pretty good one. That’s what it’s like for most of us when God breaks into our life, when His voice speaks. It’s the only thing on the horizon that you see and the only thing that can really reach into your heart. That is really what it was like for me when I knew that God loved me and was reaching into my life, it became the only thing that I could see. God is the only thing worth seeing.

Alive Again
(Matt Maher)

I woke up in darkness
Surrounded by silence
Oh where, oh where have I gone?
I woke to reality
Losing its grip on me
Oh where, where have I gone? '
Cause I can see the light
Before I see the sunrise

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

Late have I loved You
You waited for me, I searched for You
What took me so long?
I was looking outside
As if Love would ever want to hide
I'm finding I was wrong

'Cause I feel the wind
Before it hits my skin
'Cause I want You,
Yes I want You I need You, and I'll do
Whatever I have to just to get through
'Cause I love You,
Yeah I love You

1 comment:

  1. Halleluja! I love this post! I am so grateful for our journey and I am so grateful for what you tought me during the last years!
    Your sister in Christ, Elli