Music-List Mondays: Be Glad (GIA)

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Be Glad (GIA)

by David Haas, with others such as Marty Haugen, Lori True, Tony Alonso, Michael Joncas, Paul Tate, Ricky Manalo, etc.

Listen to the song here!!

Let me just tell you the first time I heard this was in my high school liturgical choir. And the mass we were going to sing it for? Mass on the feast day of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, who are Vietnamese martyrs.

Some of the lyrics that stuck out:

“This is my servant, my soul’s delight.” I can’t tell. Who are we even referring to at this point??

“The earth and sky tremble, but the Lord God will defend his people. I am going to bless you till you’re satisfied. Overflowing in abundance, my people will never be despised.” Wait…so why is there suddenly a change in the POV. You really shouldn’t just change from third person to first person. Also, what is the meaning behind emphasizing that the children of God will never be “despised.” 

Anyways, let’s get into the actual review:

Well, my school chose to sing this on the Vietnamese martyrs feast day. As a Vietnamese American, how do you think I felt having to sing this during the mass with our campus ministry leader telling us to smile during the song. There’s something utterly wrong in one of the messages, and it seems as if the writers forgot some important bible verses,

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18

“If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” John 15:20

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

Those are only a few verses on persecution, so why is a main message that those who believe in Christ will never be persecuted. As a Vietnamese-Catholic, who’s ancestry and ethnic people who have encountered the hardships of Christian persecution, there is no way I agree with this message that the song has portrayed. Christians are still being persecuted in places all over the world, it has not stopped.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind choosing this song especially for such a memorable feast day, a feast day honoring those that had died for their faith. I don’t think the people that chose to use the song at my school thought through the meaning, and instead probably thought “this is such an upbeat song, the youth will surely love it.” Wrong. I despised it, and no, the whole “smile everyone!” thing didn’t help me feel that better, either.

Change in point of view during the song, why?!? Not only why, but when is it ever right to put words in God’s mouth and pretend that’s okay. I’m pretty sure there’s never a time for that. As for the first line I mentioned, the servant should only be referred to Christ, it should not imply the entire Church. Also, they wrote in God’s voice saying that he will bless “you, until you’re satisfied.”

It seems as if they’re glossing over the fact that Christians are persecuted and despised to this day still. I am still unsure of the entire meaning of the song, it tells the listener to “be glad,” but am I supposed to be glad when I know that there’s still ways I can improve in? It gives the listener thoughts that they’re good enough, that they don’t need to change, and that God’s already pleased with how we are at this point. But, we aren’t perfect, we need to keep improving, our faith cannot just stop at this point when we think we’re ‘good enough.’

Although I have a lot of problems with it being used for a mass on feast day of martyrs, I also do not like the music style and do not it’s appropriate for mass…in other words, the electric guitar and upbeat rhythm do not appeal to me.

So that’s it for this Music-List Mondays!

 

Blessed Andrew Phu Yen

When first hearing about this person, I had no clue who they were or anything else. The only thing I figured out was that he was Vietnamese.

But, there’s actually many interesting things about this inspiring person. He is said to be the protomartyr, the first martyr, or the country of Vietnam.

Andrew came from his baptism name, and Phu Yen is the district where he came from. He was a student of Fr. Alexandre de Rhodes, and helped the Jesuit missionaries while they were in Vietnam.

How did Andrew come to be a martyr? It’s actually an interesting story, the Mandarin had went to the house of Fr. Alexandre de Rhodes, but they did not find Fr. Alexandre, only Andrew. Interestingly enough, Andrew self-confessed that he was a Christian, and so the Mandarin took him to prison when he refused to deny his Catholic faith.

They then decided that Andrew would have to be executed. When word reached Fr. Alexandre of Andrew’s upcoming execution, Fr. Alexandre went and bought a new traditional rug for Andrew to kneel on when he would be beheaded. But, Andrew refused to do so saying, “Let my blood soak into the soil of the Vietnam.”

When he was beheaded, he did not die the first time being struck, but an audible “Giesu, Maria, (Jesus, Mary)” was heard. The second time, Andrew Phu Yen repeated it, but still did not die, yet. The soldier striking Andrew was upset at this moment and struck Andrew the third time, and as Andrew slowly died, a soft “Giesu, Maria” could be heard from the mouth of Andrew.

He was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul the II on March 5, 2000. His feast day is July 26.

What an inspiring young man who died at the age of 19-20. His life story resonates in the hearts of many Vietnamese Americans who know or have heard of the struggles of Christian persecution in Vietnam. On this feast day of St. Andrew Dung Lac and companions, let’s all try to hope to have faith strong enough to choose our faith and not fear death.

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Humility

Humility is something that I find difficult. No matter how hard I try, there will still be times when I notice my failure in being humble.

I struggle with this a lot, but it’s not that I think I’m greater than anyone. Sometimes, I realize I’m not humble because there’s finally something that I can do well in. So with that enthusiasm, I end up bragging about this certain thing that I can do well (and assume I can do better) to others.

But I’ve realized that I do need to be humble. Humility is something that mostly everyone struggles with. It’s not a concept that can be accomplished once and then it’ll naturally be that way. It takes practice…and a lot of prayer.

We aren’t worthy for everything we have, and that’s one thing we should remember. Humility doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to put yourself down when you’ve accomplished something good. It also isn’t about faking a sense of humility. True humility is when you are simply aware that there is someone greater than you in all that you do.

The fact that this secular world is about bragging your accomplishments is something that is detrimental to the beautiful way of humility. Our everyday lives are consumed by this idea of “I need to be the best,” and “Look at how great I am.” But when we meet someone with humility, there’s something special about it. It is not that they are not aware of their accomplishments or talents, it is in that very act of acknowledging their gifts and talents that they have realized they are still to obey the Lord.

Everyday there’s a constant struggle between thinking we are right and knowing that we are not always perfect. Even in tiny arguments with our peers, we may end up easily assuming that we are better than them when they’ve done something wrong, and we got the right answer.

Of course there is no clear solution as to how to be humble. But that does not mean there is no way to achieve humility. One of the best ways is to go to Adoration and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, reflecting on God’s marvelous works. Pray for that humility, and surely one day it can be accomplished.  Beware, it might even be possible to be not humble by their humility. This can take forms in “fishing for compliments,” or simply “denying it (but they actually aren’t.”

So my friends, let’s all try to be sincerely humble!

(Also, I’d love to hear your thought on this…please let me know in the comments, etc.)

Starting the Day Off

The best way for me to start the day is by going to mass. Well, truthfully, my morning schedule is; wake up, pray the rosary, maybe pray the morning office, then get ready for the day. That’s my schedule for the school year during the weekdays, at least.
When it’s the weekend during the school year or summer, I find something inspiring about going to daily mass in the morning. Ever since third grade to eighth, I’ve been attending morning daily mass for mostly everyday. People assume morning mass is for the elderly, but let me tell you that it’s not entirely true. For example, I see young parents bringing their children to daily mass since they were little whenever possible. I also witness young men and women who take part of their day to celebrate the mass before heading off to their busy work lives. But then of course, you can also see loving elderly couples going to mass together every morning, and it definitely makes you feel something moving in your heart at that sight. How about middle-aged folks, aren’t they there? Of course they are! Middle-aged people definitely go to daily mass, some bring their family intentions to mass, while others also go to have a meaningful start of their day.
It’s not just lay people that go to these daily masses, though. Often, I see religious sisters from several different orders. I’ve seen missionaries, Rochester Franciscans, Nashville Dominicans, Schoenstatt Sisters, and even a Handmaid of the Heart of Jesus. There’s also been seminarians from my diocese and others. There’s something beautiful about seeing those choosing the religious life and the priesthood at mass. I’ve witnessed the inspiration that they have brought to me and to others.
Me? At first I was just a child who was told by my parents to go, and so I went. On days when there wasn’t mass, I was a little happy. But, that was a few years ago…before I realized the importance of the mass in my life.
While I am in high school, it’s not possible to go to morning mass since it starts after the beginning of school. I still go on Saturday mornings and of course, I will attend Sunday mass. During the school year, about every two weeks we have an all-school mass that everyone is required to attend, and every Wednesday there is an optional mass before school. There’s something I must say, as a student, if you’re at school early, why don’t you take spend some time with Jesus instead of standing around in the halls talking about worldly things? I don’t mean to be hypocritical, but it’s heartbreaking to see a maximum of 4-5 students at an optional mass on Wednesdays, when the school has over 400 students.
Why go to morning mass? I can’t give you a definite answer, but I’ll tell you my personal experience. I’ve received so many blessings known and unbeknownst to me. I’ve experienced tiny miracles that I give all credit to the Eucharist. That is the main reason why I go to mass, to receive the Eucharist. Although at times, it seems like there’s better things to be doing. I guarantee you, going to mass brings a peace and wellness to the rest of your day. I’ve had terrible mornings, but when I entered into prayer in the mass and received the Eucharist, I was open to the goodness of more things.
Morning mass is something that I treasure very deeply. When I could go all the time, I took it for granted, but now when I can’t go everyday, I long for the days that I can. So, I sincerely hope that anyone that is able to go to mass everyday, to take this opportunity and attend morning mass. It’ll make a difference in your life, I promise.

(Previously posted on vibrantcatholic.blogspot.com, I’m just moving most of my posts over in some form)

A Catholic Teen’s POV: How to Pray

First topic and post for this blog series…let’s get started. We’ll talk about prayer. It’s sometimes considered easy, but other times considered hard. It all depends on the person and the method of their prayer. But, today, I’ll tell you my thoughts on prayer, and what prayers I usually pray.

I think it’s always good to have prayer be a part of a person’s life from a young age. This can mean teaching a child to say a Hail Mary or a Glory Be at night or in the morning. I believe that by doing so, a child will have a very good foundation of the faith. It’s obvious that many will resolve their thoughts about prayer as just “being repetitive and monotonous.” Although that may sometimes seem like the case, there are ways to get out of that mindset.

The rosary has been something my family and I have been praying together everyday for as long as I can remember. There became a period of time when it seemed boring to me, and I thought of it as a task that just needed to be done so I could continue on to other things. When I went to a retreat, I had spiritual mentoring with a religious sister. This religious sister was the person that had helped me with my prayer life at it’s “slump.” She advised me instead of just saying the rosary and being distracted about other thoughts, that I should take that time to reflect on the mysteries and other Bible stories. I took her advice, and it has helped me immensely when I feel distracted about other things.

It was at this same retreat that I discovered the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours. There were about four religious sisters there, and the other female teenagers, the religious sisters, and I would chant the Liturgy of the Hours. It has been some of the most beautiful moments of prayer in my life.

Prayer will only be boring or repetitive, if you make and think of it that way. My advice? Be positive about prayer, look forward to when you can pray, and start small if you’re beginning to pray. Don’t overwhelm yourself when first starting to pray. It takes time to pray.

I suggest that you could start with just talking with God or reciting the Our Father or Glory Be, then as you progress, maybe say the Divine Chaplet or pray the rosary. Then, maybe you could think about the Liturgy of the Hours or the Examen Prayer. Also, going to Adoration is a beautiful way of prayer.

The above suggestions are somewhat the process of how I’ve prayed. Even though I suggested that, in no way is that the correct way to pray. There’s so many forms of prayer out there, that there’s no absolute method for how to pray. I had someone ask me once, “How do I pray?” At that moment, I didn’t know how to answer them, because honestly, I had never thought of the question or answer. Although I had also struggled with my prayer life, I know that there is always a possibility to escape from that struggle.

If you are having difficulty in your prayer life, it would be extremely helpful to talk to a priest or a religious sister from my experience. Please know that you are all in my prayers, God bless you!

~VibrantCatholic~

VibrantCatholic’s 1st blog series: A Catholic Teen’s POV!

For those who have looked at my blog before, you may have realized that there is not a specific topic in which I discuss in my blog posts. I tend to find certain things that are interesting or sometimes annoying me and I will rant on them.

I have decided to create a new blog series: A Catholic Teen’s POV. I intend for this series to explore certain issues and popular events available in the common Catholic teen’s lives. For example, I recently wrote on my personal experience at a Lifeline at NET Ministries.  Some topics that I have thought of writing on include, but are not limited to; Steubenville Conferences, Kairos retreats, abortion, charismatic prayer and other forms of prayer, etc.

It’s also important to note that I will not speak on behalf of every Catholic teen, but I will only give my opinion which may be the same or different than others. I hope everyone will anticipate my blog series! Oftentimes it seems as certain experiences that “every Catholic teen loves” are very inaccurate in that truth, but more of an advertising device.

Thank you for reading this short notice, and please read about my first experience at Lifeline to have a glimpse of how I’ll be writing.

I’ll keep you all in my prayers, God bless you!

If you have any topics I should write on, please let me know in the comments or in any other way of contacting me! 🙂

Gregorian Chant and Organ Music?!

I was able to attend a pipe organ workshop recently, and although it was at a First Presbyterian church and led by an Episcopalian organist, I was able to realize something very important about Catholicism. I’d just like to say that I am not incredibly knowledgeable about pipe organ music (I’ve only been playing for about 2 1/2 years) or the official Catholic Church documents music on Vatican II and related documents on music in the liturgy.

Near the end of the organ workshop, the presenter spoke on Vatican II and I was incredibly impressed by his knowledge on it. He talked about how Gregorian chant and other traditional hymns were greatly used before Vatican II, and although Vatican II did not specifically say on the topic, those beautiful forms of music tend to have been forgotten after Vatican II in many places. At this moment, me, being the youngest person there and also being a Catholic thought to myself, “Wow, this guy has more respect for Pre-Vatican II church music than most Catholics do!” On a more serious note, that is a problem.

     Many Catholics today have been embedded to think that the only music that should be played at mass is Praise and Worship or songs written by David Haas and Marty Haugen. My own parish has about one traditional hymn a month, and about 85% of our songs are modern songs. There is little to none of Gregorian chant and organ music at my parish and surrounding parishes. We’re so used to not having those beautiful types of music, that we now think they shouldn’t be at mass.

     Now, I understand it’d be impossible for every Catholic church with NO around the world to immediately turn back on the P&W songs and other similar music, and begin to use correct Gregorian Chant and Latin at mass. But, in no way does that mean we shouldn’t try. It can be doing one more traditional hymn every month, but please liturgists, I beg you, show your parishes the beauty and reverence of Gregorian chant and the phenomenal capability of the pipe (or electric) organ. There is so much power and wonder in those two traditional ways of liturgical music.

Being an organist and pianist myself, I believe that other instruments such as piano, guitar, and drums should be used less at mass. The mass isn’t about trying to engage the congregation since the mass is in no way, a performance or a concert. I just wanted to say Gregorian chant and organ music can bring much more respect and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament than any other forms of music at mass.

My First Lifeline Experience

Yesterday was the first time I attended a Lifeline at the NET Center. I mostly wanted to go because I wanted to hear Fr. Mike Schmitz who was the speaker yesterday. I do want to point out that I am not someone who particularly likes Praise and Worship music, and I don’t believe it should be present at mass either.

The First Things

The first thing I noticed as I walked into the building was “Wow, it’s really loud. Oh, we’re going to be in a gym.” I have gone to masses in gyms before since when my parish church was renovating, masses were held in the gym. When it was about 5:15 pm, we were able to go in and the people I went to sat nearer to the back of the gym. One thing I was waiting to see was whether we’d kneel during the Eucharistic prayer or not. 

We started out with a countdown and then continued with Praise and Worship music. Now this is when I started questioning a few things. First of all, one of the singers from the band said, “Worship is essentially praying and singing together,” which is definitely not true, but I was extremely glad when Fr. Schmitz later emphasized “Worship is about sacrifice.” I also found the song “God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlinson to be very strange since I don’t see any theological reasoning behind the song as to why God would have us on his “great dance floor.”

I almost forgot, there was a lip-syncing competition at the introduction. One person lip-synced to Adele “Hello,” and another person did “Drag Me Down,” and let’s just say I didn’t appreciate all the head banging/flipping of the second. Those performances seemed inappropriate to have in front of the altar. We hadn’t even gotten to the mass, yet…

The Mass

The mass? Actually, I was impressed with certain things. The space between the rows of chair was very limited, so I was unsure if we were going to kneel at all. But after the Sanctus, everyone (except those on the risers) knelt down between the crowded area. We continued kneeling until after the Great Amen, then knelt again after the Agnus Dei. Even after communion, people returned to their seats and knelt again, although some sat when the priest returned to his seat, many still remained kneeling until the priest said, “Let us pray.” I thought of other places where I’ve seen people have much more space between the chairs and wouldn’t kneel, but in this small area, everyone knelt.

Fr. Mike Schmitz was a wonderful celebrant for the mass. His homily connected everything that we heard about and genuinely inspired us all. One of the best parts of his homily for me was when he said that God doesn’t want our 90%, but God wants our last 10% since it’s that last 10% that makes a difference in the world. He had great reverence for the Eucharist and it was shown through the way he celebrated the mass. 

Music during the mass was 40% alright for me…there was a chant psalm, and there was another song that I was used to and not too much Praise and Worship. The songs were alright, but the mass parts were something I wanted to complain about. I didn’t like the Gloria, at all. And what is the reason behind “Allelu,” during the Alleluia, I was definitely confused on that since I didn’t think that was correct. The Agnus Dei had some Latin in it, such as “miserere nobis” and “dona nobis pacem,” but that was about all the Latin I heard. The P&W songs that were used were not horrible (as in super upbeat), and there wasn’t any clapping until the closing song. 

The Talk

Then we had the talk, which was honestly my favorite part of last night. I took down a whole page filled with great quotes from Fr. Mike Schmitz. I’ll list a few of my favorites:

God has a vision for your life, for you to become a saint. Nothing more or less than that.

Where you are right now is the result of choices. Who you will be is the result of your choices.

Intensity did not get me here, consistency got me here…consistency will beat intensity every time.

They don’t choose greatness one time, they choose greatness every time.

A small ‘Yes’ today can be a great ‘Yes’ tomorrow.

Adoration 

After his talk, we had adoration. And…it was incredibly hard for me. It was somewhat reverent, but we only had a few minutes of quiet adoration. The deacon processed around with the monstrance and it was the first time I saw people reaching their hand(s) and arms out toward the Blessed Sacrament. When the monstrance was finally on the altar, the band had played multiple songs. I tried praying, but that didn’t work, I tried closing my eyes, but it was still very difficult to pray. I tried listening to God’s voice, but it was extremely hard to do so with the music, even if it was softer. People would get out of their seats and head towards the area closer to the altar and kneel there, while others like myself stayed at our spots kneeling. The only two songs played during that time that I like were “Down in Adoration Falling (Tantum Ergo)” and “Lord, I Need You.” 

Final Remarks

Although I mostly went to hear Fr. Mike talk, I didn’t think it was a terrible experience. I was especially amazed by the kneeling, since we don’t even do that at my school with more space between the rows of chairs. There’s a sixty percent chance that I’ll go to another Lifeline, and part of the reason of why I would return would be that there was still some reverence in certain parts of it. If anyone wasn’t sure whether to go or not, I’d say go, but just know that there’s a lot, A LOT, of Praise and Worship music. 

Feel free to share your own experiences at Lifeline in the comments below! 🙂

~This was originally published on vibrantcatholic.blogspot.com (I’m currently deciding whether to move blogs or not)