In “Choices” episode four, Fr. Tateos Abdalian explains that in our Lord’s hands, repentance is an invitation, and the doorway into life eternal.
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I find at times, when listening to a select piece of classical music, I can sense the presence of God. Scores such as Handel’s Messiah; Beethoven’s Ode to Joy; The St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach; all of these bring me into the realm of the spiritual.
As an Armenian priest (and admittedly one who is biased), I find the music of the gifted and saintly Gomidas Vartabed, especially the Soorp, Soorp (Holy, holy) of his Divine Liturgy, able to recreate within me the vision of Isaiah who found himself before the throne of God.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. (Is 6:1-4)
These words, while universal and sung in all Christian churches, have inspired me in a significant way, for each time I hear Gomidas’ music—the notes played and words sung—I actually envision what Isaiah saw and described above.
To use the example used in the latest “Choices” episode, from the movie The Soloist, we find that Nathaniel is a gifted musician, disciplined in producing through sound what has been written on paper. But at the same time, he is someone who can be unpredictable in random ways.
Sometimes our faith can be like that.
We can pronounce the “words” of the Lord’s Prayer—as does Nathaniel. During badarak, or at the beginning of a community meal, we can parrot with others the Hayr Mer. Perhaps like Nathaniel, we can do these things even without knowing what we are really saying.
“Thy Kingdom come!” “Thy will be done.” “On earth as it is in heaven.”
Really? Do you really understand what Christ taught to his disciples and us through these words and prayer?
In The Soloist, Nathaniel suffered from an illness which perhaps prevented him from grasping the realities of his life. But we have the ability to evaluate where we are in our lives and to grasp this prayer as a direction to follow in our daily living. Forgive us our trespasses. Lead us not into temptation. For thine is the Kingdom.
Every day, we chart the direction our lives will take. Every day we have the ability to make a course correction, when we see that we’re headed for an “iceberg” that will destroy us.
I encourage you to find some quiet time to listen to God speaking to you through good music. Allow yourself to be transformed, finding yourself before his holy throne.
In every badarak the priest says: “In one voice with the seraphim and the cherubim, we should sing holy songs and make melodies and, boldly crying out, shout with them and say: ‘Holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts; Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Blessing in the highest. Blessed are you who did come and are to come in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.’”
The next time you are in church and hear those words, simply do what the priest says: raise your voice to join in the singing of Sourp, sourp. You may be surprised at how such a simple action can change your direction in life.