Monday, June 23, 2008

Leaning to sing a new song

Quite a number of years ago, I watched a program on how birds learn to sing. What struck me and has stayed with me, is the observation that the basic form of each bird's song is ingrained. The birds when young produce a motly babble of sound, but if you record it on a sonogram, you will see the outline of the song that the adult bird sings; it is by constantly hearing and imitating the parents that the young bird learns to sing. Once this song is learned it is fixed (except for the Canary and Starling, which can continue to learn new song). If the baby bird is removed from the nest, it will not hear the adult song, and it will retain the collection of unrefind sound; recognizable on the sonogram as the bird's adult song, but not very recognizable or attractive to us who would rather hear the finished thing; this is but one problem when birds are taken from the nest and raised by people.

Why do I bring this up? This reflection is a result of meditation on the presentation Fr. Emmerich Vogt gave at the Lay Provincial Council meeting.

You see, God made us in His image, and God is Love, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Mercy; all things which we are born to be conformed to the image of. Thus, even if a child never sees love, or truth, or beauty, or justice, these will provide an inescapable draw on him; he will love something, he will prefer what he believes is true to what he believes is false, he will be drawn to beauty in one form or another, and there will be a sense of justice he will live under. These things, even if very poorly modeled by his parents and appearing to be so much less than what they should be, will still echo a bit of He who is, such that if we could apply a "spiritual sonogram" we would see in the pattern where the likeness exists. Thus, the soul of good will, confronted with the of preaching the gospel, sees at last Jesus Christ, that pattern to shape his song which he has lacked; for we are more like the canary than the cowbird, able to learn new song, even if we seem to be more like the dull and destructive cowbird.

Now preaching the Love, the Truth, the Beauty and Justice the Mercy of Jesus Christ, serves as a beacon to the one of good will, but it also is rejected by the one whose will is opposed to grace. This one will not only reject the preaching, but will turn to the other preachers of the world who say what appeals to the disordered will, and this individual, capable of the beauty of singing like the canary, instead learns to make the disordered squawks of the starling. Yet, As God makes all things work unto good for those who love Him, even this, in the mystery of grace, will turn.

Thus, as we meet someone where he is, as St. Paul said (I make myself all things to all men, that some might be saved), we do not abandon Jesus to be accepted by them, but offer Jesus primarily through His attributes of love (seeking the good of the other), beauty (presenting a clean heart and pure mind), truth (not denying Christ or the deposit of the faith and teaching of the church), justice (rendering what is due) and mercy (going beyond the requirements of simple justice).

Oh, it's a "new song" because it is not the song we sing from birth, but one we must learn, a song not sought by the world, a song considered worthless, which is why the psalmist said:

“see how the wicked prowl on every side, while the worthless are prized highly by the sons of men” - Ps. 12 (Grail translation, Liturgy of the Hours)

For the sons of men are those reborn in baptism, they hold of high value that which the worldlings consider worthless.

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