FRIDAY JAM - Beautiful Things by Gungor

When I was in Catholic elementary school in the 80s, one thing that will always stick with me is a saying that I either heard or saw everyday:  "God does not make junk."  This simple phrase, just 5 little words had a huge impact on my life.  Those times in high school and college when I messed up, failed a test, bombed an essay, or felt socially awkward, I thought of this phrase.  Despite any self-loathing (and self-pity) that I felt, if I knew nothing else, if I learned only one thing from my Catholic school days, it is that I am loved by God, for, indeed, He does not make junk. 

Even now, after all these years, I still think of this phrase.  As I grow older, I realize more and more how truly broken I am, how sin infects a soul and spreads like cancer.  I’ve come to understand how poor I am, how very weak I am. 

However, this song by Gungor reminds me that I am “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).  Although I am dust and to dust I shall return, God has done beautiful things with this dust.  I am beautiful and precious in His sight.  He can take my poverty and weakness, and make beautiful things.  Lord, I give everything to you!  Take my dust and make a garden bloom!

From the beginning, God has loved me; He knit me with His own hands in my mother’s womb.  In the Incarnation, He took on this body of dust so that He could truly be one with me, so that He could experience suffering and death, so that He could have Blood with which to shed and pay the price of my ransom.

With God I can say:

Yes, I can find my way!

Yes, my life can really change!

Yes, the lost can be found!

Yes, a garden can grow in the desert!

Yes, He can make beautiful things of me!

AMEN!!!

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

FRIDAY JAM - Alive Again by Matt Maher

This is my current post-Confession anthem and one of my favorite songs that I associate with Easter.  What I find most fitting to this glorious liturgical Season is the song’s reference to breathing.  Of course, we all know that without breath, there is no life.  Breathing is a necessary function that we often take for granted.  We go about our days without thinking about it; we even do it while we’re sleeping.  

Jesus, having taken on our human body, knows what it is like to take his first breath in this world after 9 months growing in Mary’s womb.  He also knows what it is like to have his breath taken away as He hung on the cross. 

Many scientists think that despite the massive blood loss and brutal beatings Christ endured, the main cause of His death was a slow asphyxiation—Our Lord basically suffocated to death.  Since His arms were spread out, His rib cage was constrained making it difficult to exhale, and in order to breath, He had to raise Himself up slightly, putting pressure on His nailed feet and hands.  Thus, Jesus gives greater importance to His Seven Last Words, His most eloquent sermon, due to the extreme pain that it caused Him to speak from the cross.

The Gospels describe the exact moment of Jesus’ death slightly differently:

Matthew says, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit” (Mt 27:50).

John says, “…he said, ‘it is finished.’  And bowing his head, he handed over his spirit” (Jn 19:30).

However Mark and Luke tell of Jesus’ death by saying that He “breathed his last" (Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46).  What is significant, I think, is that as a doctor, St. Luke describes Jesus’ death in physiological terms.

Sometimes, people speak of the Resurrection as a mere metaphor, an allegory of rebirth like the mythical phoenix.  However, in order to truly be Easter People, Jesus must have truly died, not just in a metaphorical sense, but in a real, biological sense.

Jesus was truly dead.  His Sacred Heart did not pump blood; the brain waves of our omniscient God ceased; and as Mark and Luke note, He stopped breathing.  Christ has died. 

For 2 days His lungs did not take in oxygen.  Then something happened on the third day:  He breathed again!  Christ’s body truly came back to life!

As the First Cause, God, our Creator, “formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7).  The Father shared with us His breath and gave us life. 

After, we had fallen, Jesus came to share with us His breath in the Resurrection, and His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, in order to give us life everlasting. 

And as the bishop breathes on the Holy Chrism during its consecration, the Holy Spirit—who blew over the waters at the Creation and over the Apostles at Pentecost—fills us with His breath, allowing us to participate in the divine life of God here on earth through the Sacraments.

This song is my post-Confession anthem because when I am in sin, particularly in a state of mortal sin, I have rejected God’s friendship; I am dead.  But thanks to our merciful Savior who was suffocated on the cross, Christ has “shattered my darkness, washed away my blindness; now I’m breathing in and breathing out.  I’m alive again!

Though we might not always be aware of it, each breath that we take is truly a blessing, for it is a sign that we have life.  Let us be grateful for this gift because each breath is willed by God; every inhale and exhale of air reminds us that we, too, are willed and loved.

Then, may we we use our breath to glorify God and share this love with others (as Catholic musician, Matt Maher, has done in this song).


I woke up in darkness
surrounded by silence
oh where, 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

Chorus
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 can feel the wind
before it hits my skin

Bridge
Cause I want you!
Yes, I want you,
I need you
And I’ll do what ever I have to
Just to get through
cause I love you
Yeah, I love you!



(SIDE NOTE:  You may know that the Hawaiian word, “Aloha,” means both “hello” and goodbye”.  However, it is also an expression of love.  “Alo” means “presence”, “face”, or “share”.  “Ha” is the “breath of life”.  In order to pronounce this word, you literally have to breathe out.  Aloha Ke Akua, God is Love:  He who shares with us His breath of life.)

FRIDAY JAM - I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin

Happy Easter!!!  Christ is risen, alleluia!

For your Easter Friday, here is a great song by the amazing lyrical storyteller, Chris Tomlin.  One of the things that I enjoy about his songs is the richness of Christian imagery that he uses. 

For example, he draws inspiration from the Old Testament, reminding us of what is said in Isaiah, “He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak…They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint" (Isaiah 40: 29, 31).  In this song, he compares soaring to the heavens on the wings of eagles to the rising of Jesus from the dead.  By conquering sin and death in His resurrection (a literally rising from a horizontal position to one of vertical animation), Jesus has restored our life and opened for us the path to life eternal.  This path, the Christian life of virtue, is our Via Crucis, but, as it says in Isaiah, Christ gives us His strength, His power; He lifts us up when we fall; and bears us in His arms as on the wings of eagles.  Thus, though this path is difficult, and we may become dead in sin, with our crucified and risen Lord, we can soar.

Also, I enjoy the juxtaposition of positions:  “Before my God, fall on my knees and rise.”  Indeed it is a paradox.  Fundamentally, I think, it is the paradox of the cross, the great sign of death and life, sadness and joy, despair and hope, hatred and love.  The world tells us that we should only be concerned about number one; not only should be desire the accolades of others but that we also deserve to be exalted.  The cross tells us that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  The bare and bloody cross standing atop Calvary’s hill proclaims to all generations that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). In kneeling before our God, as we do during the Eucharistic Prayer and in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we literally place ourselves is a lower position.  In this act, we acknowledge that God is greater than us; we express our humility and submission to His will.  Only in such conformity to the Sacred Heart can we truly rise above our sorrow and pain, claiming the victory that has been one for us by Him who has overwhelmed the grave and made the shadows disappear.  Then we can joyfully say, "It is well."

Lastly, in the bridge, Tomlin gives us a vision of the heavenly liturgy depicted in the Apocalypse, “I looked again and heard the voice of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice:  ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing’" (Revelation 5:12). 

As the blood from the unblemished lamb saved the Israelites from the death and enslavement in Egypt, the blood from the unblemished Lamb of God has given us eternal life and freedom from slavery to sin.  What, then, should be our response to such a gift us who are so unworthy?  With hearts bursting with gratitude and joy, we offer our sacrifice of praise to the Lamb who was sacrificed for us.  

As the quote by Bl. John Paul the Great which circulated with great joy around tumblr this week announces, “We are Easter people, and hallelujah is our song!”

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
[x2]

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

"Joyful Joyful" from Sister Act 2:  Back in the Habit"

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!

EASTER JAM - Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You’ve bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven’s will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold You down
In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He’s alive! He’s alive!

O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile by Frederick W. Faber
O come and mourn with me awhile; And tarry here the cross beside; O come, together let us mourn; Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
Have we no tears to shed for Him, While soldiers scoff and foes deride? Ah! look how patiently He hangs; Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
How fast His hands and feet are nailed; His blessed tongue with thirst is tied, His failing eyes are blind with blood: Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
His mother cannot reach His face; She stands in helplessness beside; Her heart is martyred with her Son’s: Jesus, our Lord, is Crucified.
Seven times He spoke, seven words of love; And all three hours His silence cried For mercy on the souls of men; Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
Come, let us stand beneath the cross; So may the blood from out His side Fall gently on us drop by drop; Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
O break, O break, hard heart of mine! Thy weak self-love and guilty pride His Pilate and His Judas were: Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
A broken heart, a fount of tears, Ask, and they will not be denied; A broken heart love’s cradle is: Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
O love of God! O sin of man! In this dread act Your strength is tried; And victory remains with love; For Thou our Lord, art crucified!
[Photo:  taken on my pilgrimage to Santa Maria del Pi in Barcelona]

O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile by Frederick W. Faber

O come and mourn with me awhile;
And tarry here the cross beside;
O come, together let us mourn;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for Him,
While soldiers scoff and foes deride?
Ah! look how patiently He hangs;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

How fast His hands and feet are nailed;
His blessed tongue with thirst is tied,
His failing eyes are blind with blood:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

His mother cannot reach His face;
She stands in helplessness beside;
Her heart is martyred with her Son’s:
Jesus, our Lord, is Crucified.

Seven times He spoke, seven words of love;
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

Come, let us stand beneath the cross;
So may the blood from out His side
Fall gently on us drop by drop;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart love’s cradle is:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
For Thou our Lord, art crucified!


[Photo:  taken on my pilgrimage to Santa Maria del Pi in Barcelona]

(GOOD) FRIDAY JAM - Why by Nicole Nordeman

No additional reflection this week:  just a passionate song for a passionate day.  Enjoy!

We rode into town the other day
Just me and my daddy
He said I’d finally reached that age
And I could ride next to him on a horse
That of course was not quite as wide

We heard a crowd of people shouting
And so we stopped to find out why
And there was that man that my dad said he loved
But today there was fear in his eyes

So I said daddy why are they screaming
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why is he dressed in that bright purple robe?
I’ll bet that crown hurts him more then he shows
Daddy please can’t you do something?
He looks as though he’s gonna cry
You said he was stronger then all of those guys
Daddy please tell me why?
Why does everyone want him to die?

Later that day the sky grew cloudy
And daddy said I should go inside
Somehow he knew things would get stormy
Boy was he right
But I could not keep from wondering
If there was something he had to hide
So after he left I had to find out
I was not afraid of getting lost
So I followed the crowds
To a hill where I knew men had been killed
And I heard a voice come from the cross

And it said father why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why are they casting their lots for my clothes?
This crown of thorns hurts me more then it shows
Father please can’t you do something?
I know that you must hear my cry’s
I thought I could handle a cross of this size
Father remind me why?
Why does everyone want me to die?
When will I understand why?

My precious son
I hear them screaming
I’m watching the face of the enemy beaming
But soon I will clothe you in robes of my own
Jesus this hurts me much more then you know
But this dark hour
I must do nothing
Though I’ve heard your unbearable cries
The power in your blood
Destroys all of the lies
Soon you’ll see past their unmerciful lies
Look there below
See the child
Trembling by her father’s side
Now I can tell you why
She is why you must die

REMEMBRANCE by Matt Maher

Oh, how could it be
That my God would welcome me into this mystery
Say take this bread, take this wine
Now the simple made divine for any to receive

By Your mercy, we come to Your table
By Your grace, You are making us faithful

Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You

See His body, His blood
Know that He has overcome every trial we will face
None too lost to be saved
None too broken or ashamed, all are welcome in this place

By Your mercy, we come to Your table
By Your grace, You are making us faithful

Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You

Dying You destroyed our death
Rising You restored our life
Lord Jesus, come in glory

Lord Jesus, come in glory
Lord Jesus, come in glory
Lord Jesus, come in glory

Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You

Pange Lingua by St. Thomas Aquinas

FRIDAY JAM - Hosanna by Hillsong

I thought this song was fitting for Palm Sunday this weekend since the chorus is taken from the Gospel Reading (Mark 11:9, 10).  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the word “Hosanna” is derived from Psalm 118:25:  “hoshi’a na" in Hebrew; "Save us" or "Lord, grant salvation" in English. 

The 118th Psalm is one of praise and great rejoicing; it is also quite prophetic, for it sings to God with these words, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  We bless you from the house of the Lord.  The Lord is God and has enlightened us.  Join in procession with leafy branches up to the horns of the altar.  You are my God, I give you thanks; my God I offer you praise.  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever" (Psalm 118:26-29).

Thus, the crowd who would shout “Crucify him!  Crucify him!" on Good Friday began by quoting Psalm 118 while embodying its text.  Indeed, it is right and just to rejoice in the Lord.  We praise Him also because he has heard our pleading, our prayers of "Hossana,"  "Save us!"

The lyrics of this song seem to draw a comparison between the grand entry of our King into Jerusalem, riding on the back of an ass, and His majestic return on the Last Day, riding on the clouds with fire.  Thus, I think that this song is inviting us to welcome our crucified and resurrected King into our lives, especially when we’re not in church, and allow Him to rule our bodies, our thoughts, our desires, our present troubles, our future plans; “Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause”. 

For about 40 days and 40 nights we have been preparing ourselves, readying our hearts through prayer, seeking a selfless faith on our knees; through fasting and the Sacrament of Penance in which we begged God to heal our hearts and make them clean, wash over all our sin, and show us how to love; and through alms giving that we might conform ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to help us be the new generation in the Church, following Him in the footsteps of the saints.

As pilgrims in this Valley of Tears, we do not wander aimlessly.  We journey with our eyes fixed on our destination; for we are certain that our true homeland is heaven, as we walk from earth to eternity.

So, this Sunday (or Saturday Vigil), sing “Hosanna” with renewed praise and shout the word with joy.  Rejoice and be glad for Jesus has indeed come to proclaim liberty to captives and set prisoners free.  “Jesus” means “God saves.”  Truly, He does!  However, he does not do it in the way that we expect or how the Jews thought it would happen.  Our salvation was not accomplished through the might of the sword but by the power of the cross. 

We cried out, “Hosanna!”  And God answered, “Jesus!”

Lord Jesus, we rejoice with our entire beings, for the sufferings You endured and the pain we caused You has brought us redemption though we are very undeserving of Your compassion.  We praise You for You are our only Good, and Your mercy does endure forever.  HosannaHosanna in the highest!!!

[Verse 1]
I see the King of glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes, the whole earth shakes
I see His love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing, the people sing

[Chorus]
Hosanna, hosanna
Hosanna in the highest (x2)

[Verse 2]
I see a generation
Rising up to take the place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

[Chorus]

Friday Jam - Life is Beautiful by The Afters (in honor of October Baby which opens in theatres today)


[Verse 1]
Through the window
I see you waiting
You were smiling
Coz I’m coming
Your eyes are a story
An ocean of memories
Pictures of faces and places

[Pre-chorus]
And all of the things
That make us feel like
We have it all (we have it all)
All of the times
That make us realize
We have it all (we have it all)
We have it all

[Chorus]
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Life is beautiful
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Life is beautiful
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh

[Verse 2]
Living and dying
Laughing and crying
We have the whole world
Or have nothing
I know there are long nights
But we’ll make it
With every sunrise
Comes a new light

[Pre-chorus]

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
A father’s love, a wedding dance
New year’s dreams, a toast with friends
A soldier coming home from war
A faith, a hope, so much more
A brand new life, a mother’s prayer
Shooting stars, ocean air
A lover’s kiss, hard goodbyes
Fireworks, Christmas lights

These are the things
That make us feel alive
These are the times
That make us realize

[Chorus]

Here is your Lenten Jam of the Week:  Undo by Rush of Fools

I’ve been here before
Now, here I am again
Standing at the door
Praying You’ll let me back in

To label me
A prodigal would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I’ve been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one
Who can undo what I’ve become

I focused on the score
But I could never win
Trying to ignore
A life of hiding my sin

To label me
A hypocrite would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I’ve been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one
Who can undo what I’ve become

Make every step lead me back to
The sovereign way that You

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one who can undo
You are the only one who can undo
You’re the only one who can undo
What I’ve become

Joseph’s Lullaby by Mercy Me

Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Or does the Father guard Your Heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You’ll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

For your Lenten Friday:  At the Cross

O Lord, You’ve searched me
You know my way
Even when I fail You
I know You love me

Your holy presence
Surrounding me
In every season
I know You love me
I know You love me

At the cross I bow my knee
Where Your blood was she’d for me
There’s no greater love than this
You have overcome the grave
Your glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now

You go before me
You shield my way
Your hand upholds me
I know You love me

You tore the veil
You made a way
When You said that it is done

And when the earth fades
Falls from my eyes
And You stand before me
I know You love me
I know You love me

LOVE WINS!

Here’s a new song by Michael John Poirier to listen to as we get ready for the Walk for Life West Coast in a couple of hours.  Here is the very poignant chorus:

Walk for life with your eyes on Me, walking with love for your enemies.  Walk for those who cannot speak, praying for those who don’t yet see.  Born, unborn, mighty or weak, I fashioned you with the dignity meant to shine long after the sun grows dim.  Do not worry.  I am with you.  Mercy conquers.  Love wins.