Seized by Beauty

Strangely, humorously, throughout my atheist and Buddhist years some of my absolute favorite music to listen to was my collection of Mahalia Jackson albums. I have quite a few, and I would cycle through them as often as once a month. Any fan of Mahalia Jackson knows that all she sang was spirituals. And I would sing along, quite exuberantly. (Still do!)

 

Take a listen, and I’m sure you’ll see why I’m such a big fan:

 

 

Then, toward the end of my study and practice of Buddhism, when I felt my heart changing but had no idea that I was moving toward becoming a Christian, I became interested in the beautiful, old Christian a cappella music, such as “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”, or like this one that I was so thrilled to discover:

 

 

Well, thing is, one can’t go around singing songs like these, or listening to such beautiful expressions of worship, without being affected. I’d be singing along with Mahalia and be so incredibly happy. Or I’d sing along with “The milde lomb isprad o rode” (or try to, anyway) and be moved almost to tears. (Makes it hard to sing… 🙂

 

As Father Robert Barron argues, Beauty is perhaps one of the most effective means of calling people to the truth, to Jesus. He quotes Hans Urs von Balthasar:

 

“The beautiful seizes you, it changes you, and then it calls you and sends you.”

 

I loved singing hymns even when not a Christian, and now I love singing with all my heart and mind and voice engaged, not just the subconscious…

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