Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Musical Direction

On the way to spiritual direction this morning, I was ready to discuss any of a number of topics of Great Spiritual Import. The scandal that the Church in Ireland has visited on itself and on the Church as a whole; my recent lessons - those learned and those ignored - in humility and obedience; the upcoming departure of the Sister Superior, who has been something of a mentor to me; even the financial obstacles that lie between me and any attempt to enter an order, any order, which Monsignor had said we would discuss. It's been a long and rough week, there was plenty to hash out.

But none of that would amount to spiritual direction, necessarily. And Monsignor knows me by now; he didn't give me the chance to drag any of that up. Instead he started talking about music. Not what passes for music in the inner city, where the parish is located. Not that excretion of seething hatred. But music that is a blend of words and melody, the two coming together to calm us and draw us towards God. Monsignor is an organist, and classical/hymnal music is a particular love of his; for him it is a form of prayer. His point was simple: what role does music play for me? What one hymn, or song, holds the most spiritual meaning for me, and why? He wasn't referring to hymns as sung in church, communally, but rather to their private use.

I don't listen to music that often. Oh, I have plenty of songs, and a music player. It's called my old, broken-down laptop. It takes 10 minutes to start up and another five to load iTunes. So I don't bother, and anyway I don't have the time or inclination. I'm at work, or I'm volunteering, or I'm sacked out (read: being lazy). But - back when I did take the time, every night? What were the songs then? And what was it about them?

It's a good thing to slow down, stop, and ponder. What in the music, or the words, or both, affects us? What does it produce in us, and does it turn us towards God or away from Him?

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