“In the Silence of the Heart…

…You speak.”

Audrey Assad’s song, “You Speak,” speaks volumes about how we can listen to God. With constant noise from the world, it can be painfully difficult to hear God’s voice. He is speaking to us, but the main problem is we’re not listening. I used to be among the many people who pondered how others “hear” the voice of God.

People usually credit their vocation with hearing the voice of God, but what does that even mean? Do they actually hear an actual voice? Is it loud and booming, or is it sternly soothing? I had all these questions before I finally heard the voice of God.

Even in 1 Kings 19, Elijah realizes the Lord is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, the Lord is in the “sound of a gentle blowing.” The truth is, God is found in the stillness and silence. I know for myself, it can sometimes be difficult to focus when everything is silent. But, God does speak in those moments of silence.

The distractions of this world are usually too loud for us to truly be in the Presence of the Lord. For many, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful opportunity to leave all the worries of the world and to come into God’s presence with an open heart and eager ears. Personally, the first time I really heard the voice of God, it was during Adoration as I was kneeling in the confession line while looking at the Host in he monstrance.

One thing that is interesting about hearing the voice of God is…you usually cannot physically hear it. It is not a voice that you expect to resonate in your ears. Instead, the voice of God is like a silent feeling, thought, or image that comes into your being. Some cases, it may be unsure where these thoughts come from, but that is why the discernment of spirits (by St. Ignatius of Loyola), is so incredibly helpful. It can help you to realize whether these thoughts are actually divine inspirations, or just something that you think of.

So, if you want to hear the voice of God, the first thing I would tell anyone would be to listen. And to actually listen. Don’t just sit there and let your thoughts wander off, truly immerse yourself in the moment that you are with the Lord. Calm your heard and recollect your thoughts. Pay no attention to whether you’ve been sitting there for an hour or 10 seconds. In that moment, truly open your heart and mind to the Lord. An idea, image, phrase might come to mind or maybe you’ll feel an immense sense of peace. When you hear God speak to you, there is such a beautiful peace that is simple indescribable, but I hope you all can experience it as well.

I’ll be praying for you, so please keep me in your prayers, too!

 

 

 

 

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: “Appealing to the young people”

(Part 1?)

This phrase is thrown out quite often when spoken by those who believe that “praise and worship” or “glory and praise,” along with interesting and fun things are needed to interest young people about their faith. But, honestly, this is a phrase I tend to dislike.Why is there such a need to “appeal to the young people” about the Catholic faith? In some common circumstances, this leads to watering down of our prime Catholic beliefs.

Honestly, it would incredibly prudent to ask young people themselves what they want. But, if that might be difficult…here’s a few things that would appeal to me as a young person of the Catholic Church. For some, it may or not be surprising to comprehend the things I’m about to list. Maybe you’re agreeing with my thoughts, or maybe you’re vehemently shaking your head. I don’t entirely know.

Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. Yes, young Catholic people actually like these two things very much. (I myself play the pipe organ, so I especially appreciate it). The pipe organ is the “king of instruments!” It seems like other Protestant denominations put more emphasis on the pipe organ than Catholics sometimes. Some might consider Gregorian chant to be boring or too slow for millennials, but honestly, if millennials wanted upbeat music, they might just easily turn on the radio to the nearest pop music station. Many do really think Gregorian Chant is great! The reason? Because it’s beautiful, the immense history and depth of Gregorian Chant is something young people appreciate. In the world today with the busy noise and beats, when someone hears Gregorian chant, it’s possible that they stop a little and take time to think or pray. Just because something may be old in the number of years it’s been around, it doesn’t mean that it’s worse. The Catholic Church has a rich and meaningful heritage, and some of those things include Gregorian Chant and the Pipe Organ. And just a gently reminder that in the Vatican II Ecumenical Council document, “Musicam Sacram,” it is stated:

“Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal.” (50. a)

“The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.” (62)

Mass. Yes, young Catholics like going to Mass. The more reverent, the better. But, of course there are those that are simply bored whether they’re at a Mass with guitars or a Mass with a magnificent choir singing Gregorian Chant. It is more likely for them to find the Mass with Gregorian Chant more fascinating though, simply because it truly takes them closer to the deep beauty of our faith. Please don’t make Mass more focused on community than God. If the Mass is made into a performance or community event, it will be harder for teenagers to understand why they’re even there. Performance? They’d rather be at their favorite artists’ concert. Community event? They’ll prefer hanging out with their friends.

The more reverence those leading the congregation portray and expect, the congregation (even the youth!) will reflect the reverence expected. If the expectations are low, it’s easy to lower those expectations and not receive wanted results. But, I’m pleading all those in charge of liturgy, music, priests, and others trying to engage the youth during the Mass. Let us experience the Mass! Face the correct way (cough cough ad orientem), create a reverent moment through music, and most importantly is to direct our focus during the Mass to Jesus and His sacrifice, not about the people next to you.

Truth. Honestly, please tell us things about the faith truthfully and straightforward. We don’t prefer hearing sugar-coated versions of dogma. We’re all striving for the truth, especially young people who are at a stage of their lives when we hope for authenticity. Sometimes it seems hard to be blunt about something, but it’s better to clearly explain than to glaze over the topic. Yes, it may not sound pleasing to the ears, but that’s not what is important. Truth is important. Two thousand years of Scripture and Tradition shouldn’t be watered down and made to sound less “offensive.”

Value our opinions. I do know many that value the youth opinions, but at the same time, there seems to be some adults who only value certain opinions; those that agree with them. Most of the people that try to appeal to young people are obviously not millennials. Simply put, find out what it is that young people want, not just your own perception on what it is. Please! Just because something is fun or in with the times doesn’t automatically make it attractive to the young generation!! If we looked at a reverent person versus someone shaking their head back and forth, “having fun,” we would easily get bored looking at the second person, but there will continue to be something attractive and appealing about the person being reverent.

Prayer and Adoration. And Silence. There’s the common notion that young people need to be doing something every minute to stay engaged. That’s not true at all, it’s imperative that young people and adults have quiet time to pray. It’s a lot harder to pray and think when there’s background noise, it can become a lot easier during silence or adoration. Although, the mind can tend to wander, it would be wiser to let young people experience the silence that can help them listen to the voice of God.

This honestly feels like a “Part 1” of something. So, that’s it for today, please please please take this message into account!! I’m not only speaking for myself, but there are many other millennials who will think the same, too.

(Also, if anyone would like to correct my citations from the document, please let me know!)

Silence Before Mass

Silence. Just that word is intriguing, there’s something different that each person thinks of when they hear that word.

This morning at my school Mass, I was sitting on the risers for the choir watching as classmates, upperclassman, and underclassman all walked into the auditorium. I noticed something…silence and reverence were not there. People came in talking to their friends, maybe about the class before, or the test afterwards. It might’ve even been something completely unrelated to school or the Mass. Even those in the choir were talking among themselves.

I sat there, realizing something I hadn’t before. These people and myself had walked into the auditorium numerous times, with no preparation of our soul for the Mass. It’s recommended to have silence before Mass, but there was none of it. It only quieted down when the cantor welcomed everyone and said the song number.

Something was pulling on my heart, I was apologetic to Jesus. How disappointing it must be for him to see the people He died for not appreciating His sacrifice! It was my determination to spend the rest of the mass in reverence. If the others disregarded the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist during the celebration of the Mass, I wanted to at least be reverent myself.

I found it curious that no one had ever mentioned to stop talking before Mass. Shouldn’t we know the tremendous opportunity that we are able to partake in? Many other Catholics in different countries have to celebrate Mass in secret, but it seems that we’ve disregarded the meaning of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

“Mass is so boring,” we’ve probably heard it at some point. I think the problem does not lie within the mass, but the person’s understanding and faith of the mass. If a person truly comprehends the sacredness of the mass as bridging us between heaven and earth, I doubt they’d be speaking about their crush just minutes before Mass began.

Silence gives us the opportunity to listen to God’s voice, our lives are already too filled with constant noise. We need silence in our lives, there’s no doubt of that. So, can’t we spare a few minutes before mass to remain silent and prepare ourselves for the Mass?

I’d just like to end this post with a few quotes/bible verse:

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

“We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence.”  [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 209] (Pope Benedict XVI)

” A soul that has never tasted
the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others.” -St. Faustina Kowalska