About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark is the Director of Music of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. His compositions have been performed worldwide.
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"Nothing should be allowed that is unworthy of divine worship, nothing that is obviously profane or unfit to express the inner, sacred power of prayer. Nothing odd or unusual is allowable, since such things, far from fostering devotion in the praying community, rather shock and upset it—and impede the proper and rightful cultivation of a devotion faithful to tradition."
— Pope Paul VI • 10/13/1966

“Do not let anyone make you feel discouraged.”
published 24 June 2017 by Richard J. Clark

OMETIMES IT IS not the words themselves, but the source that matters. Usually, words are cheap. Actions speak loudest. But sometimes, I hear words that move me to move my heart.

Recently, such words came from my mother. Simple. True. Words from a lifetime of living in faith. Words that bore the weight of authority:

“Do not let anyone make you feel discouraged.”

Working in a professional capacity for the Church, it is sometimes just as easy to become discouraged as it is to feel uplifted. Apparently, I’ve discovered that the Church is filled with people just like me: Flawed. Imperfect. Human. (Made in God’s image? Really?) That’s debatable from my all too human eyes. By the way, I’ve got huge planks in both of them.

My mother’s advice echo verse one of the African American Spiritual, There is a Balm in Gilead: “Sometimes I feel discouraged And think my work’s in vain, But then the Holy Spirit Revives my Soul again.”

Clearly my mother received the Gift of Wisdom from the Holy Spirit and tried passing it on to me. Maybe a tiny bit got through.

UT HERE’S WISDOM: Gratitude. When I feel discouraged about making a living for my family in this profession—and doing so with a modicum of ever-elusive peace, another thing happens.

It seems I can suddenly rattle off a list a ridiculously amazing blessings in my life:

All your children are healthy? Hmmm. Yeah. God is watching over you. In fact, He made all that possible.

You have friends who might drive you crazy, but stick by you year after year even when you screw up? Um. Yeah.

You had trouble paying bills, but your wife and kids love you? Unconditionally? OK. Stop.

Wait…you got to make music in praise of God with some seriously amazing musicians? You got to do this and this with these beautiful people?

This is not to discount the struggles. There are real problems in the Church and real problems in society that must be addressed. But do not discount that God knows every hair on your head, and knows how to take care of you better than you do. (I’m proof of this.)

And here’s the final lesson: Trust in God alone. While sometimes the Church is on fire (sometimes with the Holy Spirit and sometimes not), God is the only one to trust. I.e., Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall want for nothing.”

Soli Deo gloria

P.S. Thanks, Mom.