There are many places in life where we find joy. Often times, I find joy in my family – going home for holidays and being with the people that I love the most. I find joy in my friends – a second family that arguably knows me best. I find joy in my work – encouraging others to support an institution that means so much to not only me, but also to the Church in the United States.
When I think of my Catholic faith, I can only think of joy. This was especially evident during the recent election of a new Pope when I saw the entire world rest its eyes on our Church. It gave me great joy to answer people’s questions about my faith, help them to learn more about what it means to be Catholic, and strengthen my own faith. Joy in our faith can be found in a variety of different contexts.
The one place where I find the most obvious joy, however, is within the hymns and songs of praise that are sung so beautifully in churches throughout the world. Over this past Triduum and Easter Sunday I heard magnificent music that brought people to tears.. One thing which astounds me every time I attend Mass is that it doesn’t matter if you can sing or not – liturgical music is meant to be sung by anyone. The entire congregation is meant to join in and sing their praise to God. You can see visually the people around you either belting their notes or perhaps listening intently to those around them. Whichever way one chooses to participate, there is no doubt that you can find Joy within the music both sung and played.
One of the things I like to do immediately upon entering a pew is to figure out what hymns are going to be sung as the processional and recessional. If I don’t know the hymns, I try to hum the notes to myself in an effort to learn before the music starts. When the organist starts playing, I am transported – if only for a few brief moments – to a place of Joy. The people singing around me are all focused on one thing: praising God, saying thank you for giving us this day, and joining together to start off their week on the right foot.
As I was writing this post, I stopped to go to Mass in downtown Washington, DC. Again, the music chosen immediately brought me into the moment. Each liturgical season brings with it an amazing group of hymns. Everyone I’ve spoken to have their favorites, especially at Christmastime. As for me, I’m a sucker for Easter hymns. Whatever the case may be, liturgical music has a way of bringing us closer to God in so many ways. Next time you’re at Mass, take it in – notice that everyone around you is all focused on the same thing: praising God and thanking him for giving us this day.
What’s my favorite hymn? Too many to choose from, but I’ll leave you with this beautiful piece of music that I think anyone can appreciate – especially when you least expect it.
Chris Pierno is the Associate for Media and Marketing for the Catholic Apostolate Center.