April 16 will always be a very special day to me.
In 2006, Easter was on April 16th. That was the day when my faith became alive. Over the preceding eight months, I had gradually opened my heart to God. My mom had recently died and I agreed to join the church choir to sing with my dad. I was there for him and for the music. I wasn’t seeking God, but grew closer without realizing it.
Until Good Friday of 2006, I seriously doubted the existence of God and had no clue about so many important aspects of Christianity, most particularly the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our choir was singing O Sacred Head Surrounded (one of my favorite hymns) at the Good Friday service, but it didn’t sound like us; at least not to me. The song was glorious with perfect full harmonies and beautiful phrasing. It was as if I were listening to a choir of angels, not our choir of amateurs. The music made me feel something deep and indescribable. Still I doubted.
I pondered the death of Jesus the next day as I did errands and played the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar in my car. I was struck by the song, “I Only Want To Say” which imagines Jesus’s prayer at Gethsemane.
Then I was inspired
Now I’m sad and tired
After all I’ve tried for three years
Seems like ninety
Why then am I scared
To finish what I started
What you started
I didn’t start it
God thy will is hard
But you hold every card
I will drink your cup of poison
Nail me to your cross and break me
Bleed me, beat me
Kill me, take me now
Before I change my mind
I listened to it over and over, contemplating the mystery of Jesus who is fully human and fully divine, and wondering why God chose to redeem us that way. I was struck by the paradoxes.
The son of God came as an infant and allowed himself to be helpless, entrusting his care to a human mother and father. They actually lost him once. What must that have felt like– to lose the son of God who was entrusted to their care? He came to preach a radical message and to oppose the Jewish leaders of his day. He was frustrated by the lack of faith that he found; he grew weary of the crowds and of his own apostles; he wept. He was wounded in body and in spirit. The details of his trials were foretold hundreds of years earlier by the prophet Isaiah.
There is far too much evidence for this to be a coincidence. All but one of his wayward band of apostles were martyred for their belief in him. That’s way too far to go to defend a myth or a made-up story.
By Easter afternoon, the Holy Spirit had flooded my heart and mind with unshakable faith. Everything felt different. I felt light and alive and joyful! I still could not reason with my tiny brain how all of this needed to happen in God’s divine plan, but I trusted that his ways are beyond my ability to understand.
The overwhelming and clear message was: IT IS ALL TRUE!
I was a child of God and this truth, the deposit of faith held by the Church, was my inheritance. I had been looking at the tapestry from the wrong side. Turning it around, I could see and delight in the beauty of God’s vision and in the way that each tiny thread formed part of the fabric of faith. By being a cafeteria Catholic and plucking out the colors I didn’t like, I distorted the picture and had actually torn wholes in the fabric. But God’s plan can mend those tears and make all things (even the brutal crucifixion of his son and my mother’s sudden death and my years of just going through the motions) work together to fulfill his purpose.
April 16 is the feast of St Bernadette. My family has always attended a parish named to honor this poor, young shepherdess. With strong faith, she was able to deliver her message while opposing powerful bishops and public officials. She persevered against impossible obstacles to share what had been revealed to her. Many have sought and received healing in the waters of Lourdes. St. Bernadette is an example of obedience and strength, especially for those of us who fear humiliation more than anything.
Faith has brought me to unimaginable places. It gave me the courage to be a living kidney donor. It inspired me to write songs and to write this humble blog. It gave me eyes to see the trasure that had been mine all along.
How can I repay the LORD
for all the great good done for me?
I will raise the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
#conversion, #years,#decade,#celebratefaith,#psalm, #Jesus,#osacredhead,#StBernadette