During a break in EWTN's focus on the march, I took a break too and noticed that my Australian friend Renato Bonasera of the group Radical Grace had "liked" a comment I'd left on his Facebook page a few days ago in response to his invitation for friends to review his soon-to-be officially released album His Grace Is Enough. I decided to seize the moment and write down my thoughts as I listened again to these songs I had downloaded from iTunes some months ago. As I did so, I discovered, to my delight and blessing, that I was listening to songs with a message perfect for today.
If I had to sum up His Grace Is Enough in one word, it would be hope, and each of this EP's five meditative songs will inscribe that word's meaning onto you, whether you listen to them once or over and over, as I sometimes do.
The song that shares the album's title describes empathetically how I have felt many times in my life—"all alone ... strength has gone, the flames extinguished in the night," etc.—but then reminds me what has sustained me many times before—"His grace"—and not because I have remembered where to turn, but because "someone calls your name from a distant place," and I reach out, not so much to take His hand as to let Him take mine. This is the grace: not that I seek Him, but that I, the lost sheep, am sought and found—and not just once, but again, and again.
"How sweet the sound" indeed is the album's fifth track, "Amazing Grace," a fresh, soothing rendition of a song that was already etched as deeply in my psyche as a song first heard before I could sing it could go—I had thought. I am inexpressibly grateful to hear it again today—the Feast Day of St. Paul, one of the most famous and important recipients of the grace that invites conversion; and a day on which I am powerfully reminded what it means to be "a wretch like me."
The album's middle song, "The Joy of Loving Jesus," not only calls us to be joyful in our faith, but actually imparts that very feeling—in "mind and heart and soul"—by means of its memorable melody, layered harmonies, and bouncy rhythm. Its lyrics, borrowed from the Scriptures, remind us who we love with such joy, and why: He is "the rock of salvation" (Psalm 18, Matthew 7:24-27, 1 Corinthians10:4) and "the peace He gives" is "one that the world cannot give" (John 14:27), and "where can I hide from his love?" (Psalm 139:7). Psalm 139 is, appropriately for today, the psalm that prays to God, "You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.... When I was being made in secret ... your eyes saw me unformed" (verses 14-16). To discover that treasure hidden in the field of this song is an unexpected blessing.
The album's fourth song, "Our Lady of Sorrows," offers its hope in the form of reminding us that even when we, like Our Lady, stand at the foot of the Cross, suffering "along with her son," she is there with us, "sharing the Passion of our Lord," and ours. Before today, I realize now, I hadn't really seen in this song's lyrics the gift that Mary's union with her son in His Passion offers to a mother whose only child's life also ended with him bleeding and broken, leaving her own soul "pierced by a sword."
Imagining the face of her baby
Slumbering, protected from harm
Watching your son, two hearts beating as one
Shedding His blood, redeeming the lost
All your miseries my child
like a twig in a roaring fire
have been consumed
in the flame of my love
Your heart is known to me
Satisfied it will not be
but by my love alone
And there's no need to fear
no need to worry
when there is mercy in your soul
And there's no need for despair
no need for anguish
My heart is mercy for your soul
Let no fear or disturbance be
Let your soul draw near to me
though as scarlet be your sins
Souls who place their trust in me
graces in abundance see
and wonders unimaginable
It is with unimaginable wonder that I recommend to you tonight His Grace Is Enough.