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Thomas wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm a very, very young Catholic (15) raised from birth. My father is the founder of a Catholic Charismatic community that has a reasonable following in my country.

Ever since, I've been very grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church. I go to Mass whenever I can, every Sunday, and usually more.

  • I pray the Holy Rosary every night with my family and on my own before I sleep
  • I read the Bible every morning, and
  • go to Confession once a month.

I love the sacraments and appreciate the beauty of the Mass. Most of all, I love Jesus.

I don't have any doubts about my faith. I think it's very silly to say:

I'm a Catholic but I don't agree on this or that.

That said, growing up in a Charismatic community, I've been exposed to a lot of contemporary praise and worship.

I believe that worship services shouldn't be places of performances but an avenue of true heartfelt praise to the greatness of Jesus, in the most creative ways possible. I don't believe this will lead to salvation, or anything crazy like that, but I do love worship very much.

I've gone to many Christian churches attending their worship services. I've even flown all the way from my country to Australia to attend the Hillsong Conference.

I really love praise. I want to become a worship leader when I grow older. I don't care much about making people feel good with great music and lights and special numbers. Instead I want them to be able to feel His Presence through the talents I have. I'm a budding recording artist, and music is my passion.

I want people to be able to experience God without having to go out of their way to go to Mass . . . yet. I want to be able to personally reach out to the lost and broken people, particularly the youth through the universal language of music, and guide them towards Jesus and the beauty and the fullness of the Catholic Church.

The problem is: I just feel . . . out of place. Like my dream doesn't belong anywhere in the Catholic Church. I don't really know what to do.

Even my parish priest has told me to be more solemn during Mass because he says that I have this bad habit of being too passionate during Our Father. I'm not sure if he means that I tap my feet to the beat too much or something else. I don't really know.

I want to worship Jesus in a contemporary music setting and lead other unchurched people that way too. I just feel like people are frowning at me because of this.

Don't get me wrong. I solemnly believe that the Mass is the highest form of worship ever but surely there is a place for Praise and Worship that isn't just solemn but rather, more about expressing your passion for Jesus in the Catholic Church.

  • Am I incorrect on this?

I really don't know what to do.

Thomas

  { Is there a non-solemn place where I can express my praise for Jesus since I can't do it at Mass? }

John replied:

Hi Thomas,

You are correct in believing that there is a time and place for this type of expression. Certainly if a Catholic can get excited about his or her favorite sports team, he or she ought to be able to get excited about Jesus but St. Paul tells the Corinthians that everything should be done decently and in order. We don't want to disrupt others as they worship. So while your actions during the Mass or Liturgy are genuine expressions of devotion, they could be misunderstood by others who aren't used to it or they may just distract them. That said, you don't want to call attention to yourself — not that I am saying you are intending to do so. If people are noticing you, they lose their focus.

Now there are times and places where we Charismatics are free to express our charisms and type of praise. Namely at a Charismatic Prayer group, or even a Mass that is celebrated in the Charismatic Renewal Community. But even then, during such Mass, we should still try to obey the rubrics given to us by Holy Mother Church. After all, while at the Mass, even though we are present at Divine Liturgy taking place in Heaven, we are also present at the foot of the Cross witnessing the Christ's sacrifice. For this reason, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in particular the consecration, it is important to show reverence.

I also would be cautious about attending too many non-Catholic worship services. Obviously there is nothing wrong with praising God with our fellow Christians but these services and conferences usually have teachings or sermons and there is where you need to be careful that you don't pick up any heresies.

Again, our Protestant brothers share many of the same truths and lots of what they have to say is good but they don't have the fullness of the faith and so their perspective is skewed.

If and when you attend such meetings, always have your Catholic filter on and if you have any doubts about what is being said, then check the Catechism, ask your priest, or always feel free to shoot us an e-mail.

I hope this helps,

God Bless

John

Bob replied:

Hi, Thomas —

You don't have to go anywhere else. The Catholic Church needs you and has a place for your gifts. Not only am I a Music Director for a parish, but I play with a music ministry along the lines of what you described.

Go to liftedhigher.com to see for yourself. It is all about praise and worship, Eucharistic Adoration, and bringing people to Christ in a profound way, and we have incredible testimonials of how God has been using this ministry to do it. It is very much approved and blessed by our Cardinal Sean O'Malley and it is wholly Catholic. No one in the band is seeking glory, the lights, trying to be a rock star (though we have a fairly hi-tech audio visual crew) but everything is oriented to the one purpose of drawing souls in to connect with the God who loves them and wants to be near them — and it works. I wish I could share the stories.

You may have to start small, but find other like-minded musicians who can put a group together to play at events, Masses, or anything that can create experience and exposure. Eventually you will connect with people that can bring you to another level. Go to some of the national conferences where you can network, and yes, you can even draw on Hillsong and other Protestant Praise and Worship music and resources because they have frankly been way ahead of us on this aspect of the Church.

Lastly, God will eventually help you to connect with a pastor that can tap into and unleash your gifts. It sounds like your current situation isn't too supportive. We've all been there, and not every parish is a perfect fit for the contemporary Praise and Worship genre. Our events happen monthly on a Tuesday night, in addition to other conferences, etc. but not in conjunction with a specific parish or weekend Mass. Be patient and let God lead. He will bring you along just as He needs you — you're young and have a good deal of growing and learning to do.

Most importantly, don't think our Church doesn't want you and your gifts; it does!

God bless you and feel free to write anytime about music.

Bob Kirby

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