A few Saturdays ago, when I showed up at 4:00 Mass, which has been without a musician for about a year, the priest asked my friend and me what we should sing for the opening song. The Gospel that week was the Good Shepherd, so we suggested “Like a Shepherd.” My friend’s preteen daughters all responded that they didn’t know the song. I joked about her girls not having been exposed to ’80s liturgical music. We spent a few minutes reminiscing about the songs we sang during Masses at our respective Catholic schools.
Many of us who are products of Catholic education post–Vatican II have distinct memories of learning most of the songs in the Young People’s Glory and Praise hymnal. Except for frequently expressing my love for the Christmas song “Violet in the Snow,” I haven’t thought of those songs very often. Oddly, events of recent weeks have brought something home to me–the simple but profound messages of faith they contain.
The last month or so has been a particularly difficult one for a number of my family members and friends. The issues they are facing are issues that challenge faith. I believe that questioning and doubting are absolutely valid in those situations. But my brain keeps digging up the lyrics to one of those songs, “I Believe in the Sun” by Carey Landry. The words of the chorus were found written on a wall after WWII: “I believe in the sun, even when it isn’t shining. I believe in love, even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when God is silent.”
I’ve been repeating those words in my head like a mantra. They are a little bit of strength in difficult times. And they are a reminder that sometime the most profound lessons of faith are learned when we are quite young, even if we don’t appreciate them until years later.