A Pick-Me-Up Playlist for Lent

Well, here we are. Almost halfway through Lent. But if you’ve fallen off the wagon of good intentions and resolutions, then know you’re not alone. No Lent is 100% mistake-free. The good news is that each moment is the opportunity for a fresh start. God is all about starting over again. Let’s pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. Yup, I’ve landed on my backside right along with you (Lookin’ at you, chocolate cupcakes in the fridge).

Lent is a time for meditation, reflection, and sacrifice. That usually means digging deep within ourselves and dissecting our struggles and flaws. Not really fun. But while we’re pulling out the weeds, we have to replace the negative stuff with positive stuff. We’ve got to sow some good seeds, so we can start seeing some green sprouts by Easter. Here is an eclectic mix of songs that help put me in the frame of mind for all the soul searching…

Pilgrim, by Enya (CD: A Day Without Rain)

Enya is a fantastic artist to listen to if you crave meaningful lyrics, and soothing melodies. This song reminds us that we are all pilgrims on our way to Heaven. Earth is the land of exile, while Heaven is really our native land. St. Therese of Lisieux once said, “The world is thy ship, not thy home.” Seems like an appropriate attitude to adopt during Lent, no?

Long Long Journey, by Enya (CD: Amarantine)

Allowing God to change us into better people is easier said than done. We have to say “yes” to Him, continually. There are highs and lows to this long journey, but “what are sighs and what is sadness to the heart that’s coming home?”

My Beads, sung by The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
(CD: This Faith Is What I Love)

This song was actually a poem written by a priest about his Rosary beads, and how using them to pray helped him during the difficult times in his life. This group of nuns set the poem to music, and I have fond memories of singing this at their summer camp, complete with crackling fire and starry sky! All aesthetics aside, this is a simple reminder that Our Lady’s Rosary is the most effective way to boost one’s prayer life (aside from the Mass).

Dream of Pilates Wife, sung by The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
(CD: This Faith is What I Love)

Another song from the sisters, and the lyrics are set to the tune of “The Sound of Silence,” by Simon and Garfunkel. I like listening to this one during Holy Week in particular. So much material for meditation in this one, and it provides an interesting glimpse, not only of Christ, but at Pontius Pilate…

God Help the Outcasts
(CD: The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is in my list of top ten favorite Disney movies of all time. This beautiful song doesn’t sound campy or princess-like, and it’s a great reminder of the attitude we should have when we pray. No selfishness, no greediness or glory-seeking, but rather a spirit of love and generosity, of acceptance for whatever comes. This takes time to build, but we put a brick in our “interior castle” (per St. Teresa of Avila) each time we choose what God wants for us.

Anon: Alleluia, Behold the Bridegroom
(CD: Sacred Treasures, Vol. 3: Choral Masterworks from Russia and Beyond)

My Dad grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church, and converted to Catholicism later in life. Orthodox chanting can be very sobering, but I find that it helps me to focus during this part of the liturgical year. After all, Lent can be and is fun, but it is also very serious. If you want music to help calm your mind and heart, this will do it for you. I highly recommend the entire CD. Perfect to play in the background while doing some spiritual reading, meditating on the Passion, or even making a quiet no-meat dinner on a Friday evening.

Anon: Offertory for Maundy Thursday
(CD: Gregorian Chants for All Seasons, Disc 1)

And finally, Gregorian chant. I swear there is nothing like this stuff to help you pray. I find it so beautiful and tranquil, without being distracting. It transcends the monotony of everyday cares, and helps me to focus on making the ordinary into something I can offer to God. It transports me to a state of calm when I can shrug off a cranky attitude and remind myself of where I’m at and Who is in control. That’s Lent in a nutshell. (But perhaps forego the chants when you’re driving. Unless you’re super awake, you might start nodding off! Stay safe. ; )

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