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March 30, 2020

Songs and resources of consolation


Songs and resources of consolation
 

Time never feels quite the same after an event like this. When family or friends go through a serious illness, or die from something that seems so unstoppable like a virus, a war or a natural disaster, time just isn't measured the same. So what can we do to live in these troubled times without succumbing to hopelessness, to that sense that there is no way out of our sorrow?

As individuals, we can, first of all, give ourselves permission to mourn. Spend time in prayer as someone who has lost much. You don't have to be too creative about your prayer. Pray the rosary, perhaps using a recording like Bob Hurd’s A Contemplative Rosary, with its beautiful images and music. Or pray the Stations of the Cross — they are all about moving through sorrow. If you have young people, there are many forms of this devotion for different age groups, including Christopher Walker’s and Sister Paule Freeburg’s The Way of the Cross for Children.

You could also look to the Liturgy of the Hours. These liturgical celebrations help us to see that there is a rhythm to the day, that time does move on, even when we feel stopped in time. It also gives us something to do — one of the hardest aspects of grief is the idleness — so fill in those hours with the prayer of the Church. Christopher Walker and Sister Paule Freeburg have wonderful recordings and booklets to help with this, as does Camaldolese Monk Cyprian Consiglio. His Lord, Open My Lips expresses the prayer of asking God to help us pray. His song for the night, “Now All the Woods Are Sleeping,” never fails to move me — reflecting on the beauty of the day turning to night and looking forward to the “fields of everlasting life.” It is just that good.

Which leads us to that other thing we can do as individuals. Find a song — one that speaks to you about the meaning of this life, in all its strangeness and wonder. Then listen to it again and again. In these days of quarantine and sheltering in place, a song about not doing anything might just be the ticket. Christopher Walker’s beautiful “Be Still and Know That I am God” is a great reflection on just being in God’s presence. For this Lent, there is also all of OCP’s Lenten music, along with Dan Schutte’s Lenten reflection, From Ashes to Glory — a book and CD package that will help us get through. There is also wonderful instrumental music for when words seem to get in the way. Consider some of these collections: Love Remains: Songs of Consolation, The Wood and The Stone, Gentle Sounds: Meditations and the late M.D. Ridge’s A Light in the Darkness.

Finally, I want to recommend my book, Unlocking the Feasts and Seasons of the Liturgical Year. An important part of moving forward is to build a personal calendar of memories. Setting aside days in the year for joy, and yes, for sorrow, can allow us to move on from the paralysis of sorrow. But it can also give us the assurance that those who are gone will never be forgotten. This little book can help with that.

I work for OCP, so my suggestions come from our catalog. It is at times like this that OCP puts its best foot forward. I hope that what we have to offer will help us all, until we can once again be together at the altar of the Lord, to sing God’s praise and receive his countless blessings of the faith.

Songs for Grief and Consolation