I want to thank all of you who have been praying for the repose of the soul of our choir director, and for peace and comfort for his family. The funeral will be tomorrow, and I'm sure that your continued prayers are most appreciated.
One of the many talents of this dedicated and humble man was his gift for musical composition. I think the congregation was often completely unaware that the musical settings for some of the responsorial psalms, or a small piece of meditative music, was the handiwork of our director.
One of these little pieces, a song we sang during Lent, is a song the choir will be singing tomorrow. The inspiration for the piece, our director told us, came from this version of the Stations of the Cross; I wish I could share both the words and the music with you, but I can only write the words:
Do with me as you will, O Lord
Grant that I love you always, O Lord
Accept me as your servant, Most Blessed Lord-
For I desire You, and nothing more.
You have made this journey
To die for me with unspeakable love.
Pardon me, God, You go to die for love of me,
For I desire You, and nothing more.
Mother, Queen, overwhelmed with grief
Obtain in prayer for me His love of the Cross
Take me as yours and pray to Him for me,
For I desire Him and nothing more.
I can't help, reading over these words, but wonder how many times I've fallen short of what they express. How many times have I let truly selfish and trivial desires be more important to me than my desire for our Lord? How many times have I cared more for the passing vanities of the world than for the eternal truths? How many times, within minutes of exiting the confessional, for instance, have I slipped right back into grouchiness or impatience or complaining or boasting or laziness or self-centeredness or materialism or any one of dozens of other shortcomings and failings?
Even if we are granted a relatively long life on this earth, there's no getting past the reality that our time here is short. Some people, like our late choir director, manage to be beacons of light, examples of unselfish service to God, His Church, and to all who encounter them. Others of us have a lot more to work on before we'll be capable of half that much unselfishness and dedication, and I definitely count myself among that second group.
But the truth is, we only have today, right now, this hour. We only have one chance in each encounter with every "other" to see them as reflections of Christ instead of that idiot who cut in front of us on the road, or the person who was rude to us in conversation. We can only form the habit of goodness and kindness and generosity one good act, one kind moment, one generous outpouring at a time. We can only change one tiny momentary part of ourselves, that single part that exists in the fleeting "now" of our lives.
C.S. Lewis put it this way: "I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other." (Mere Christianity)
As I consider tomorrow's funeral, I am grateful that I got to know someone who was so obviously working so hard on becoming a heavenly creature, a fit citizen of the Heavenly Kingdom; I am grateful for the many people God has put in my life who are examples of His goodness, examples I hope to learn better to follow.