Praying With Music

Besides love, music has been a defining factor in my life. You know how a favorite tune or set of lyrics get stuck in your mind and stay with you for days? When you pray with music written to draw you closer to God and you allow it to indwell, you are embraced in something heavenly, sometimes even holy. Whether experiencing a selection from a great Catholic Mass, like Fauré’s Paradisum from his Requiem Mass, or a worship song like, Hillsongs’ Oceans (Where Feet Will Fall),  take a moment today to recall one of your choice or choose one of mine linked below and spend time with it introspectively. This is prayer if it is entered into with that intent. Sometimes I am left with a fragment of lyrics or an image that reminds me of God’s love, or glory, or peace. I savor that reminder as a gift from God. Let God’s grace wash over you today by praying with music.

Oceans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

Paradisum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYgNoQnzMRI

by Gracie

Make Room for Giving

My voice coach is always telling me to “be generous with my air.” Most miserly people I know are miserable. Last week, I was talking with a friend who felt very unfulfilled in her comings and goings. We romanced what it might be like if her daily journey included sharing herself more, giving time, financial assistance, or serving on a Board where she could make a difference in someone else’s life. We discussed intentionally being generous with oneself in a selfless capacity. We talked about “what comes around goes around,” and even though the gift back to her life may not be in kind, she will receive a surprise gift of generosity at some point. If she “pays it forward,” might her life be more fulfilled? If we live intentionally, generously, knowing every gift of love matters, no matter how humble the donation of time or money, we confirm that we are one in faith, one in love, and one in service to the Body of Christ.

by Gracie

Embrace The Change

Two things in life I have learned are constant: change in circumstances and constancy of God’s Love. Sometimes life changes are a result of something unwanted; someone dear to us is taken away either by death, divorce, or change in living circumstances.The aftermath can be emotionally devastating. It is in those times that I embrace God’s love deeply. Our God is a God of delightful surprises. I try to find the silver lining in the midst of the clouds. For me, clouds represent majesty, mystery, and mercy. Silver linings remind me that while this earthly experience is happening on one level, something beautiful and eternal is going on in another. When I turn to God for salvation and resurrection, my soul is enlightened by God’s grace. Some life changes bring us happiness and joy, like weddings, a newborn baby, or perhaps new job opportunities. The God experience is one of something new, a surprise, a mystery experienced as a renaissance or a reawakening in the soul of the abundant grace of God. Today, embrace the change. Be open to God’s delightful surprises!

by Gracie

Live Your Love

This last week was my birthday. I celebrated with ten of my dearest girlfriends. I wrote each woman a ‘love letter’ telling each how they have enriched and blessed my life over all of the years we have journeyed together. Unbeknownst to me, one of my friends reached out to the others and asked them to come prepared with three words that described their experience of me and so they did. I handed out my letters and they went around the table and shared their words out loud that represented how they saw me. The experience was powerful and validating. We lived our love for each other. Jesus lived His love for each of us, sharing with us how important we are to God, and how deeply loved we are by Him. For today, live your love, share with those closest to you what they mean to you either by word, prayer, or deed. When we are intentional and unconditional about our love, we share our hearts, as well as, shine a piece of heaven into the mix.

by Gracie

Loving Awareness

Last week I was listening to the Epiphany Dialogue Podcast from Seeking Faith with Fr. Dave Denny and Tessa Bielecki. Both live a contemplative life. Tessa referenced having a “loving aware experience of God,” as a way of praying through your day. “I do that,” I thought enthusiastically. She talked about “a cry of the heart” as a way to reach out to God in response to daily routines both in joyful times and in sorrowful ones. I see that prayer reflected in my gratitude for the small and great details in my life. Then I received word that I might have a life-threatening disease. How do I have a “loving aware experience of God” when I’m terrified? So I asked lovingly, “Lord what is the lesson in this situation?” I listened with my heart. No matter how the test comes out, this is a wake-up call to stop worrying about the future! Be present to the goodness of God in every step of life and be thankful. You never know how much time you have left. My tests came back negative. Please enjoy the podcast: https://seekingfaith.podbean.com/e/epiphany-dialogue-with-fr-dave-denny-and-tessa-bielecki/

by Gracie

Hope and Letting Go

The past several years I have participated in making a “soul collage”  on the last day of December. The purpose is to set a goal, resolution or a letting go for the coming new year and to represent it prayerfully and symbolically, by making a collage of photo images. This year my collage was especially meaningful. I am retiring from an organization that has been dear to my heart for forty-three years. I found photos to fill one side of my collage centered around letting go: images of waterfalls, representing tears of sadness, and clouds representing pain floating away. The other side represents my hope for the future. I chose photos of sunlight shimmering through treetops, golden sunlight shining through clouds, a woman picking memories from amongst the stars, and peaceful beach scenes. While making the collage, I felt more emotionally connected to the letting go side. My take away has been that I need to be more receptive to grace-filled memories.  My hope side attunes me to a future that is stimulating, gifted, fulfilling, and creative.

by Gracie

Resolved to Pray

I made only one New Year’s resolution this year, to explore different ways to pray. My writing will encompass that exploration this month. With that in mind, I want to share  an acronym for prayer given in a homily recently.

ATRIP:  stands for:

A = Adoration: Start your prayer with Love for the Lord. Praise Him.

T = Thanksgiving: Whatever, in the moment, you are thankful for, share it with God.

R = Repentance: Asking forgiveness for unloving acts or thoughts against yourself, God, or others.

I = Intercessory Prayer: Pray for our world and those you know who need God’s help.

P = Petition: Lift up your own concerns, dreams, and desires to the Lord,

What I like about this kind of structure is that it gives me a framework in which to focus my prayer. Praying this way gives voice to loving God, gratitude, forgiveness of my own failings, the needs of my friends, family and the world, as well as my own concerns. I feel more at peace, hopeful, and complete when I use ATRIP for my prayer format.

by Gracie



Gentle Teaching

During one of my Christmas Concert intermission, a fellow soprano said glumly, “You know, I just don’t believe in the story about the birth of the Son of God. I love the feeling  this time of year brings, though.” “ Have you ever considered,” I asked, “whether you believe Christ is the Son of God or not, that Jesus was the greatest teacher of love, for example, how to love one another? If Buddha taught us how to enter into a holy place through meditation using our brains, Christ taught us how to heal our heart through forgiveness and how to be a loving presence for ourselves and others.” All at once the glum soprano began reciting Bible verses: “Love one another as I have loved you…..Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our call came for the second half of the concert. The glum soprano grinned broadly. A soprano sitting next her leaned over touched my arm and said, “Thank you for your gentle teaching.”

by Gracie