I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.
I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.
Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.
In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.
I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.
My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.
My son and his boys frequently come over to my house on Saturday mornings. I’m usually in my bathroom shaving or getting ready for the day when they stop by. The boys always join me in the bathroom and then start snooping through my closet to see if there’s anything that’s new since that last time they were there. After they’ve finished with my closet, Harry always asks if I’ll play a music video on my iPad for him and his brother.
One of the videos that I frequently play for the boys is the Home Free version of How Great Thou Art. Regardless of how many times I’ve played the video, Harry always has new questions about something that he sees in the video.
A couple of weeks ago while I was playing the video for the boys, Harry asked why there was a church in the video. It was a good question. Other than the church, there are no other buildings or objects in the video.
When Harry asked me the question about the church, the only answer I could come up with was that the church was built for people in the community to attend weekly services. He seemed satisfied with my answer and went on to his next question.
A week later, on Saturday morning, my son brought his boys over to my house again and, as usual, Harry and Liam headed straight for the bathroom where I was shaving. After checking out my bathroom closet, and anything else in the bathroom that was new or out of place, Harry asked if I would play a video for him and his brother.
I again played the Home Free version of How Great Thou Art. When the video got to the point where the small church appears, Harry’s brother Liam asked the exact same question that he heard his older brother ask the week before: “Why is that church there?”
Before I could respond to Liam’s question, Harry answered, “It’s there because the guys are singing a holy song.”
Harry immediately answered his brother’s question without having to think about it. That means that he either figured out the answer to the question on the previous Saturday, or he thought about it during the week and figured it out at that time. He may have also been inspired by the Holy Spirit to conclude that the church was in the video because the men were singing a holy song.
So there we were in my bathroom, and my 5-year-old grandson had a better answer to the question than his 60-year-old grandfather had. God really is great.
The fact that Harry came up with a better answer than I was able to come up with is a tribute to his parents who are both devout Catholics. They pray a family rosary with their boys every evening, and the boys are constantly being exposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church by their parents. The boys are also enrolled in the Sunday morning faith formation program for children at St. Philomena Catholic Church.
I feel sorry for Catholics who did not have the opportunity to grow up in devout Catholic homes. They were denied the critical knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that comes from a faith-based upbringing. More importantly, they were also denied the grace and protection that is showered upon families who are headed up by devout Catholic parents.
Devout Catholic families are gifted with special grace and protection from the Blessed Trinity — grace and protection that is not given to other families. In addition, when a family prays a daily rosary, additional graces and protection are showered upon the family at the request of the Mother of God.
Just as she recognized what needed to be done at the wedding at Cana, and then made it clear to her Son that He needed to perform a miracle, she also sees to it that her Son performs unseen spiritual and physical miracles that are needed by the families who are devoted to her.
The Blessed Mother’s role in the Catholic Church, as well as the influence she has been given over her Father, her Son, and her Spouse (the Holy Spirit), has been documented by the saints and doctors of the Church, most notably, Saint Louis de Montfort and Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
In addition to reading what the saints and doctors of the church have written about the influence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have personal experience that spans 60 years. I grew up in a devout Catholic home where the family rosary was prayed every day. My wife and I carried on that tradition with our own family, and now, our children are doing the same with their families. I saw the special graces and protection that were showered upon my parents’ family, my own family, and now I’m seeing the same heavenly favors being granted to the families of my children.
God really is great!