I reclined in the passenger seat of my friend’s car after an exhausting day of student teaching. My friend switched on the radio as we drove back to Immaculata University, taking in the brilliant gold rays of the afternoon, which made visibility of the road somewhat impossible without sunglasses.
Squinting, we lethargically absorbed the Christmas music blaring triumphantly from the radio. I mumbled in protest that it was only mid-November but cooperated, regardless of my allegiance to the liturgical calendar.
All was “merry and bright” as we drove on, until I was suddenly overcome by a profound realization of emptiness. Until that moment, it had never struck me how absent God is from the secular world during the celebration of his own incarnation. Though it may seem rigid to nitpick secular Christmas music, I realized that the core of this emptiness stemmed from being caught up in a world that deliberately strives to tune God out.
God is glazed over year after year by frivolous anthems to Santa Claus, reindeer and holiday romance to effectively deafen the melody of his divine presence. As puritanical as it may sound, this is the notion of society for every day of the year. If we fail to exercise vigilance, we can eventually become out of tune with God if we try to sing along with society for too long.
But how can we as Catholics remain “in tune” with our faith instead of falling flat? The solution is to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, our “divine conductor” so to speak.
If you visualize a musical conductor, he or she always faces their orchestra or choir with his or her back to the audience. When the musical group is performing, they are illuminated by fluorescent stage lights and positioned meticulously in order for the audience to see and hear them clearly. Each musician is guided by sheet music and watches the conductor intently for every cue and cut-off.
Regardless of the musical genre or type of piece that is performed, there is always the necessity for immense attention to every detail of that piece. Every accidental, transition, crescendo, chord, and tempo change must be practiced diligently in order for the piece to be played or sung to its greatest possible fulfillment. If one instrument or voice is out of tune or loses focus, the rest of the ensemble suffers and the piece itself may falter. However, the conductor knows each voice or instrument in his ensemble and helps them to readjust when needed.
Now channel this analogy into the perspective of our faith: God the Father is our Conductor who directs us through the darkness that we face in our daily lives. The world looks at us, the church, and searches tirelessly for flaws to try to prove any defectiveness within Christianity. However, we are guided and strengthened by his Word that helps us to grow and thrive in our spirituality.
When we focus intently on the gaze of the Father and actively seek his presence (or cues), we come to learn how he wants us to pursue his will for our lives. If we lose focus because we become distracted by what the world has to offer, we fall from his grace and need his reconciliation.
Therefore, a life of faith requires diligent practice if we hope to remain in his grace, regardless of the trials that God wills us to endure. God knows each of us fully and perfectly. He sees when we fall short and immediately helps us to readjust our focus on him.
As a college student at Immaculata, it is so easy to tune God out because the anthems of responsibility, academic stress and independence can be deafening. However, choosing to pursue my faith in college is the best decision I could have made. I find hope and joy each day in the wisdom that I gain from my theology classes, in the witness of the I.H.M. sisters and other models of faith, in the power of experiencing Christ’s love by sharing him with others, in the marvel of attending FOCUS conferences, in the support of my friends and family, and in the sanctifying beauty of the sacraments and eucharistic adoration.
The song of our faith is rich and the melody of his love for us will never end. He only invites you to sing along.
Julia Brawley is an Immaculata University senior majoring in elementary education, preK-4 and special education, with a minor in theology.
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