Growing up, my dad was in a rock band. And let me just tell you, it was the coolest. I grew up wandering the halls of my house with my own personal soundtrack provided by the notes ringing forth from my dad’s guitar. Music has been interwoven throughout the span of my life ranging from church choir to a punk band to my high school’s musical productions. Little did I know that in the future, the Lord would use music as an avenue to draw me closer to Him.
St Thomas Aquinas once wrote, “Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.” St. Augustine also vocalized his respect of music as a form of prayer by saying, “He who sings prays twice.” Both of those statements are pretty profound and adequately convey the power of music as a form of prayer.
Franciscan University has an abundant culture of music. The University’s Music Ministry program is a truly remarkable thing. In total, there are fourteen mass teams in addition to a Sunday night vespers team. Students can also participate in music teams that lead Tuesday Night Praise and Worship meeting held each week and the Festivals of Praise that are held once a month. We also have a Sacred Music program. Those are just the established programs. Students lead music for those they encounter on mission trips, for SENT retreats, for their household commitments and for so many other activities. We have an exceptionally musically gifted student body and what a witness it is to see the men and women of this campus giving their talents to glorify the Lord and to draw others to deeper communion with Him.
My personal experience with music at Franciscan includes leading praise and worship for my household and leading music teams for mass for two different semesters. Not only have those experiences allowed me to grow practically (i.e. getting over my stage fright and refining my musical technique), but more importantly I have grown spiritually. I have especially grown through participating in music ministry at mass. I have recognized what a special gift it is to be able to lead my peers to deeper devotion during Eucharistic prayer.
This semester I have the privilege of leading a spectacular team of musicians for the Tuesday 4:45 p.m. mass. Each week I think to myself, “Who am I to be granted the gift of drawing others closer to Our Lord who is present right here and right now in the sacrifice of the mass?”
Music, I have realized, is more than just pleasure for the ears, it is sustenance for the heart and the soul.
It is such a huge blessing to attend Franciscan University where the study abroad program has become commonplace among the student body. I would say roughly 85% of the people I know have gone to or are planning to go to Austria. Sometimes I forget how awesome and rare of an opportunity that is. Most other schools do not have a program like ours.