I have been involved in music ministry in the Catholic Church for almost fifty years. As a young child I learned the power of music to touch hearts deeply and lift them heavenward. As a teenager, I began to discover the power of Spirit-led praise and worship to transform hearts and change lives (1 Cor: 14-15). I believe that in these increasingly difficult times in which we live, Jesus wants to make it easier for us to taste heaven as we worship Him. I believe He wants to open the floodgates and soak us in His Love as we sing in the reign of His Kingdom. This kind of worship heals our wounded and broken hearts so that we can receive His mercy and then share it with others, be they friend or foe. Then we are truly free! This is so evident in the witness of the martyrs, especially those who sang and forgave their enemies as they died. It is a great joy for me to put my gifts at the service of this grace.
I attempted my first song of praise from the crib at thirteen months, oblivious to the Quiet Revolution that decimated the Catholic Church in Quebec during the first ten years of my life. The Lord was planting seeds of a completely different kind of revolution in my heart, which He loves to do with children (Mt. 19:14). One memory stands out in particular, when my spirit soared heavenward during a Christmas songfest at my parish. I will never forget that experience, and others like it that strongly impacted my life.
Singing in the church choir provided an anchor for me throughout high school at a time when I struggled with many temptations to compromise my faith. It also stirred my heart with awe and wonder at things sacred, particularly the sacraments and the Word of God. But something was missing. I had not yet discovered God as my Father, Jesus as my Savior, and the Holy Spirit as my Friend and Advocate. I hungered for more.
One day in my early teens, a Redemptorist priest suggested I write letters to Jesus, and then let Jesus write letters back to me. Thus began my journey towards an intimate, personal relationship with God, which brought praise and worship to a whole new level for me. Not long after, some rosary ladies at the parish prayed over me for a deeper release of the Holy Spirit in my life. They told me that I had a special mission and that Mother Mary would play a central role in that mission. As I began to hear Jesus more and more clearly through prayer and worship, He began teaching me how to "sing in the reign". This prepared my heart to experience another taste of heaven at the age of sixteen, while singing the recessional hymn at my father's funeral. Jesus was teaching me the power of praise to turn sadness to joy, despair to hope, and darkness to light as I surrendered to the Holy Spirit leading me in song.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the central role that my parents played in helping me discover and embrace my vocation and mission. My dad's love for music and my mom's love for singing, together with their unwavering faith, were central to God's plan for me to fall in love with Him and want to share Him with the world through music and song.
Throughout my life, in my darkest moments, the Lord's word to me has always been, "Sing!" I have come to understand that every trial and difficulty can provide opportunities for praise and worship that leads to deeper intimacy with Jesus, and greater compassion for others, in a way that welcomes His Kingdom among us. I have also been amazed to witness the impact that singing in this way has on others in a broad range of circumstances, from religious events to secular. The circumstances may vary, but the impact is similar in its capacity to reach the heart and instill deep, profound, otherworldly peace, which is a sure sign of God's presence among us. And how much more when two or more gather in His Name, for "The Lord dwells in the praises of His people" (Ps. 22: 3)!
While the Quiet Revolution was raging in Quebec, the Lord was planting seeds of a completely different kind of revolution in my heart. What a privilege it is for me to share what I have received: a profound grasp of my need for a Savior, a profound gratitude to Jesus for everything He has done for me, and an ever-deepening thirst for Him, and His Reign, in my heart and all hearts.
The growing persecution of Christians throughout the world and the heroic witness of the Coptic Christian martyrs in Syria are signs to me that the time is ripe for the Catholic Church, the Sleeping Giant, to rise up in communion with the Blessed Mother, the saints and particularly the martyrs and Sing in the Reign of God's Kingdom.