Sr Judith Yuen, FMM
As I shared last time, I was baptized at the age of fourteen in St Lawrence’s Church. One condition set by the parish priest before my baptism was to join the Children of Mary and invite the president of the Association to be my God Mother. It was to secure my faith because I was the only one baptized in the family and was not yet an adult. I joined the Children of Mary at his request but I also joined the Choir because of my own interest. These got me into full swing in experiencing the love of God and giving service in the parish.
As a member of the Children of Mary, I learned to imitate the faithfulness of Mary in doing the will of God. I loved to wear the blue veil during ceremonies at Church, a significance of being a child of the Blessed Mother, loved and guided by her. My assignments as a member of the Children of Mary were to clean the sanctuary, to polish the brass candle stands, to wash and iron the vestments before big feasts. It was an initiation into the respect for the Blessed Sacrament and eventually led to the love of the One present and hidden under the appearance of the host. My love for Him who loved me first increased daily as I received Him into my heart during the Eucharistic celebration. I cherished the moment I adored Him and felt Him so near and loving. I formed the habit of going to Mass every day, receiving my loving Lord is the source of my joy and strength. Neither cold nor rain could stop me rushing to Church with the limited time before going to school.
I love singing since my childhood. Joining the choir not only gave me the opportunity to develop my singing skill, but to sing with feelings and love in praising God. I was told that singing is praying two times. Wow that was encouraging and inspiring! It made me sing with all my heart and my emotions, often moved into tears with the melody and the words of the hymns. The Gregorian chant was my favorite, Mass and hymns in four voices could bring the audience a fore taste of Paradise. But wait, before arriving there, we, the choir members needed to struggle through the hard moments of the singing practice, especially before big feasts. Can’t imagine how we survived: voice practice to start with: again and again, once more, not correct, once more…Then each voice needed to be trained to master the tune, the timing, the expression. The most difficult time was to blend together the four voices, it was tedious for the director and us, repeating and repeating until we could get to harmony. Often we all got tired and thought we were going nowhere. Limited with the time before the feast, we needed to prolong the time and squeezed more days for practice. It was demanding, but nobody complained or gave up, it was the Lord who pushed and accompanied us along the way. I wonder if the angels sang with us from above, because most of the time our singing turned out ‘angelic’, better than what we expected! You could see the big smile on our faces after the liturgy—a sense of satisfaction and gratitude!
In order to give the best of our voice for the singing, usually we went to Church with empty stomach, so that we could exert our voice without any blocking elements. Our parish priest would gave us our reward with ice-cream after the liturgy. The excitement was increased when I was marked to be the soloist, kneeling at the foot of the altar, chanting the litany for the Holy Week liturgy. I can’t describe fully my feelings: before going in front of the altar, I was feeling nervous, it was my first time to sing in the presence of so many people. The moment I knelt down at the altar, I felt a deep serenity in me, all became quiet, I did not feel any pressure from the people around me but a sense of being chosen, chosen to praise God with my chanting, chosen to represent the whole assembly to offer homage to God who has shown his love through the suffering of his only Son. With the chanting, I was able to go deeper into the meaning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ: the highest form of manifestation of God’s unconditional love for me and every human being. My singing skill developed as well as my faith became strengthened through singing. That is the wonderful way how God works: you do one thing, he gives double harvest, provided you do it for him and with love! (To be continued)