Column by Jonathan Nagy
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
Music is an important aspect in the lives of just about everyone. Songs and sounds are nearly impossible to ignore, whether it is birds chirping, jingles from commercials, or humming your own tune. With modern technology, we have music on demand to listen to at any moment of the day. We listen to music when we are in a certain mood and we listen to music to help change our mood. Certain types of music are great for workouts, others for relaxation. I am no different than everyone else, as I enjoy music with everything I do. Recently, I noticed I have nearly 2000 songs on my iPod from several different genres. It was also interesting to note which were my most played songs.
The song that has had the most plays for me is In Christ Alone, written by Stuart Townend, and performed by many different artists. This song has even made it into hymnals and is widely popular for many people. I wasn’t really surprised to discover that I have listened to this song more than any other, mostly because of how true the lyrics are! Two verses in particular stand out to me. Verse one reads: In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song. This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease. My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand. The words in that verse are so impactful! Christ alone is the hope we have forever. Christ is the one to lead us to paradise.
Translated into Latin, the title of the song becomes In Christo Solo. Solo. One. Only. No other options. Christ is that hope we have in every aspect of our lives. I feel very sorry for those who do not know Jesus and who only have faith in themselves. We cannot do it alone. We must have strong, unwavering faith that Christ will lead us through every storm that comes our way. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that, “Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear a path.” God alone knows what our futures hold, and He alone can guide us through. He does place people in our lives to assist us and we are expected to do our part, but we must have faith in His plan.
The final verse of the song also rings true with me. No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand, till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. I find the phrase “no power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand” to be very powerful. With a strong faith in Christ, we are untouchable by Satan. We can also avoid the many temptations of our earthly world by staying strong in Him.
We can put measures in place to help guide us along the way. We can get in the practice of saying a prayer when temptation comes our way, or a negative thought enters our minds. My go-to prayer is the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. More and more parishes, including those not dedicated to Saint Michael, are saying this prayer at the beginning or end of Masses, and I begin each of my classes, every day, with this prayer. The Church is aware of the dangers and evils of the world, and this prayer fights against those negative forces.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
I find myself mumbling this prayer several times during the day, as I am driving, cutting the grass, walking into a difficult meeting, and even when unable to sleep. We are at our most vulnerable when our minds and bodies relax, and we should call on God and His angels and saints to help defend us against those evils. Spiritual warfare is real, and Satan is constantly fighting to control our minds and our souls. A deacon once said to me that every time a prayer is said, the devil loses more ground. And while Satan may try to fight harder, Jesus will always win if we open ourselves to Him. Jesus loves us. Satan loves to destroy us.
We can never forget that Jesus died for us. Coming full circle back to In Christ Alone, another verse of the song reads: And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, for I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ. His victory over death gave us a pathway to eternal life. The path is not easy and sometimes can be frightening, but Jesus is there to guide us the entire length of the way. Just as He did with Saint Peter, He calls us out to be challenged and to become the people He knows we can be. Jesus is always our number one supporter, our biggest fan, and the one we can count on at all times. Faith in Christ alone will lead us to eternal victory!
Jonathan Nagy is the Director of Admissions and Social Studies teacher at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg and the Music Director at the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto.