Dancing at Dusk

LastDancing HT weekend, a strange group of young Vietnamese Catholic adults gathered beside a lake in rural Wisconsin and found themselves dancing for the Lord at dusk. The following is video footage providing evidence of the ocurrence, and that Evan has learned to shed his shyness of the camera (with much gratitude to the fellow dancers and videographer!)

Yet, before (or after) you enjoy the evidence, please consider why it is that we dance? Why is it that we find it difficult to sit idle and still when a good song comes on? Why can we not brush off beautiful music, or ignore terrible music either? Why do we respond with shudders or dancing?

These are questions for the Theology of the Body to answer, and without drilling into the depths, I’ll say this for now: we have bodies. We were made body-soul, and our body makes visible our invisible soul. Music is a special art that cuts easily into the soul, and depending on the type of music (yes, there are types we should avoid), we respond physically and in certain ways that make sense.

So with these two songs presented below, I’d like to say that I did not sit down and draft out the movements in a technical and premeditated way. Instead, I listened to the music and moved the way the music steered me.

And many others can move way better than I. But this is my blog, so hah…

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Praying and Praising with Audrey Assad

The first time I encountered Audrey Assad‘s prayer through music, I was stunned silent. It was during an August sunset, and she was only a guest appearance during Matt Maher‘s charity concert. Before this point, she was only an unknown backup vocalist… but when she started singing her Restless… nobody wanted her to be merely a backup anymore.

Audrey AssadYesterday night I had the chance to see Audrey again on her final tour. So much of it felt like a reunion of sorts, but I also noticed and appreciated the beautiful and subtle ways she has changed since 2010’s experience.

She was not center stage this time — not even close! She put herself off to the side, and made sure icons and masterpieces of the Faith were our focus. The artwork would appear distorted at first, and only gradually become recognizable as we prayed with Audrey through song.

And she didn’t just sing, but she led us in prayer. She moved away from the mic and would let us take over — hinting to us that our voice is beautiful too. We needed to pray while she hushed.

And hushed… and hushed until she backed away from stage, unknown to us. She left us praying and praising Christ at the end, herself decreased to the point of absence, Himself increased to the point of sole presence.

It was clear she wanted to remind us that we were gathered there for Jesus — not for anyone else, not for her. Even after the whole show, she was nowhere to be found, because she wanted us to find Christ instead.

And I think a lot of us did find Him.

As my brother seminarians and I drove home after, we prayed and praised God the whole way. I really don’t think the other fans were doing anything different either as they went home that night.

Thank you, Audrey [and Bellarive!] — may Mary keep you and your beloveds close to her Son’s Sacred Heart always.

Some favorites:

Lastly, check out this post for how to move to Audrey’s You Speak… yes, you read right: move. As in dance. With me.

Special Deliverance

I just finished reading a book!

The book is Matt Fradd‘s Delivered. It’s a great collection of nine testimonials from men and women who once were or are struggling to be free from pornography addiction.Delivered

Yes, there is such a disorder as porn addiction, and if you don’t believe me, consider this article, and this article, and this one too… and this one. (Btw, the last one was made by an ex-porn actress.)

And if you were or are addicted to porn, if you are tempted, if you think porn is harmless, please know that I was like you.

I was caught up in lust starting from a very young age. I remember the first incident was when I was in fifth grade, and it worsened when my family got Internet for the first time (in 1998 – yes, I just showed my age) and I was trapped for ten years.

For ten years I abused women and girls by lusting after them. I abused my imagination, my body, my freedom, my desire to love. I was butchering my ability to truly love and to truly be loved.

Then in 2006, I was Holy Smacked in the face. I was punched with this insight: “The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but because it shows too little.”

That’s right. Read that quote again: Porn is not showing too much — it’s not showing enough! So… what is there more to see?

How about all of her? She has a name. The girl is someone’s daughter. She’s someone’s sister. Someone’s granddaughter. The woman is someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s aunt. She is someone’s friend. She has dreams, goals, aspirations. She has a childhood, a history, a whole life-experience. She’s not just a body, she’s not just body parts. She has an irreplaceable soul, a unique mind, a heart made for love.

The most beautiful part of a woman is her. All of her.

And porn blinds us from seeing all of her for who she is. Porn blinds us from seeing anyone for who they are, including the person who uses it. There’s so much more to a person than we can see (If you don’t believe it, look over a copy of Delivered for yourself).

My life changed when I realized this (via the Theology of the Body). Actually, my life more than changed, I felt more free, strong, manly and a follower of Jesus than ever before. I even saw more in girls and women than I could ever see while trapped in lust. Today, whenever I see a beautiful person, I stop and sigh a prayer: “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for this person, and all her beloveds, for they all have recourse to thee.”

And if she’s especially beautiful to me, then I pray and pray and pray for her to be safe from my lust and the lusts of others. I pray over and over, and thank God for creating and nurturing this person, and I pray for her to become a saint. And by this time, I think so much about who she is that I’m too lost in wonder with God to start lusting.

What just happened there? What exactly?

I just turned the temptation to abuse the woman into a reminder to pray for her and thank the Lord. And guess what: that really annoys the devil. REALLY ANNOYS that leech! And he can’t do anything about it.

Last thing: Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t feel tempted anymore. I’ll be tempted until I die. But now the chains are off, and I know where the gun safe is, and I know how to aim and shoot.

[Click on the safe for your own weapons.]

[Click on the safe for your own weapons.]