Yesterday I spoke ever so briefly on the importance of having good choirs in our churches to enhance our worship of our Heavenly Father. (I admit to being spoiled, because for years the parish in which I reside, has been led by two wonderful musicians, Morris Stevens and Dan Girardot.) God has shortchanged me in many areas of life, and one is in the area of musical talent. When I was in the seminary, the music director requested me to simply sit on the back row and pop my knuckles! It was a blow to my pride that was difficult to overcome, but I knew that it was good advice and I followed.
My lack of talent does not block me from appreciating wonderful, cheerful, optimistic hymns that reflect important concepts in our holy faith. Allow me to mention two songs that I really love to hear. One of them is the very popular, “On Eagle’s Wings”. The lyrics are, of course, lyrical romanticism, but the concept is so beautiful. We all have an instinctive desire to soar. The eagle is a classic example of power, and in this case, a representative of Gods presence. So, when we sing that song, we need to think about the fact that we are going to be carried into eternity by the saving power of Jesus Christ that is reflected in our day to day world as being carried towards eternal salvation, hanging desperately onto the wings of Jesus, who is our eagle!
Onward into the sky!
A second hymn that I adore is one that is used frequently for the entrance procession for major Eucharistic celebrations, called “Lift High the Cross”. The lyrics and music don’t have the softness of Eagles wings. They are forceful, with a sure confidence about the salvific effect of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Lift High the Cross!
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Have you ever heard of Eagle’s Wings, a beautiful facility in the hills west of Burnet? Eagle’s Wings is a retreat house that has come into being solely on the basis of the vision and hard work of an extraordinary group of lay people.
First a word about retreat houses. Although we still struggle heroically to maintain the parochial schools that we developed over the last 150 years, the truth of the matter is that in most parishes the cost is prohibitive. In my opinion, the retreat house movement has come to be a partial substitute to the shrinking of our school system. When we are baptized into the faith that is a birth, a beginning and that new life and faith has to be nurtured. The prime source of religious education in the Church has always been the family but in modern times, the schools have stepped in and became a great help to the family. Now we have retreat houses springing up all over the country.
Retreats bring men, women, people united by special interests, etc. together on a Friday afternoon and they remain together until Sunday afternoon to pray, listen to lectures and homilies, discuss their faith, celebrate the Eucharist, etc., etc. Then on Sunday evening they return to their homes and their workaday world where there are so many temptations and distractions. Retreat houses are all over the country and have been a tremendous success.
Currently, there are two retreat houses in the Diocese of Austin. One is Cedarbrake which was developed under the formal auspices of the diocese, and the diocese is completely responsible for its operation. The other is Eagle’s Wings and I will tell you about Eagle’s Wings tomorrow. It is a marvelous example of lay people having a vision of the need for a miracle and having the faith to bring that miracle into reality.
On to the Eagle’s Nest!
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