“God of morning, God of sunlight,
Look on me with tenderness.
Help me see with eyes of mercy,
and respond with heart aflame.
May my hands embrace your likeness,
So your love transforms life,
As I walk the path of mercy,
May your mercy be my own.”
These are lyrics from “Path of Mercy,” my favorite Folk Choir song of all time. The gentle voice of the solo on verse one is like the Word of God, touching my heart with tenderness and love. Sometimes life in the Folk Choir feels like mere routine: Tuesday rehearsal, Thursday rehearsal, Sunday rehearsal and Sunday Mass. But is it really routine? To me, it is much more than that. Life in the Folk Choir is a journey. We are walking together on this invisible path of mercy.
While walking on the path of mercy, we are seeking God; we are seeking spiritual communication with God. While walking on this invisible path, God’s grace rests upon us, and God’s love shines on us. While walking on this journey, we hope that God will transform our lives.
To me, faith is about transformation. In one of my theology classes, we talked about Father Maximos’s view on two stages of faith, a view that I really appreciate. According to Father Maximos, the first stage is “the introductory faith.” At this stage, we gain knowledge of God. The second stage is to have “direct vision and experience of God.” To advance from the first stage to the second stage, we need to pray, we need to do spiritual exercises, and we need to seek God. In this process, we transform from servants of God to friends of God. We transform from people who merely follow God’s rules to people who have strong desire for God. We eventually find freedom and happiness in our obedience to God.
My faith journey is different from many other Folk Choir friends. I was baptized after I was born, but I didn't receive my First Communion until the day before I came to Notre Dame, so at this time in my life, I feel that I am still at the first stage of faith. There is still a long way to go for me to have a direct vision of God. During my time in the Folk Choir, there have been a few moments in which I felt God’s presence. Even though I wouldn't say I reached the second stage, I knew those feelings indicated that I was on the way there.
Even though this is my first year in Folk Choir, I would say my experience with the Folk Choir started three years ago. During my freshman year, I went to the Easter Sunday Mass in the Basilica. That was actually my first time attending a Mass in the Basilica, and Folk Choir was singing at the Mass. Those songs purified my heart and brought me to a higher spiritual level. Through the music, I heard God calling me to be part of this choir, so my soul would be drawn closer to God. After being a sincere Folk Choir fan for two years, I finally responded to this invitation from God. I auditioned for the Folk Choir and was offered a place in the choir. After becoming a part of this amazing community, I did experience more moments like that. Every Sunday before I go up to the loft, I pass by one of the doors in the Basilica. This door is usually half open. Sunshine penetrates through the door. I imagine the sunshine to be the light of God. During the Easter Sunday Mass this year, we were singing a song called “Out of Darkness”. On the last line of verse three - “This is Resurrection Day” - we sang a big crescendo. In that moment, I could actually feel the rising of Christ. Feelings of excitement came to me unceasingly, like waves of the ocean. At that moment, I could feel that Christ had resurrected, as if I had witnessed this event myself. My belief was so strong at the moment. I knew that if I could experience God’s presence in that way, I could reach the second stage of faith.
May God’s mercy be our own as we walk together on the path of mercy! May God transforms us as we strive unceasingly!