Ave Maria

8 Mar

Music lessons were very important to my parents. Some of my earliest memories involve sitting in front of a piano plunking out notes and trying to make them sound like a melody, or making strange noises to try to warm up my voice. I took lessons from a teacher who only believed in exploring classical music, so it was only natural that one day I would have the sheet music for Ave Maria placed in front of me.

My voice teacher sang the song through so that I would have a good idea of what it should sound like. I was instantly in love with the beautiful words and melody. However, as with all songs that I sang in languages other than English, I had to translate Ave Maria before I would be allowed to sing it.

I was twelve at the time, and what twelve-year-old follows directions like that? I knew that song by heart within three days of first encountering it. I sang it constantly (even away from the piano, much to my teacher’s chagrin).

And then my mom heard me singing it. She talked to me about the dangers of worshiping Mary, and then at my next voice lesson she informed my teacher that I was not to sing Ave Maria, nor was I ever to be encouraged to sing anything of that sort again. She took the sheet music, so I wasn’t even able to translate the song to find out what horrible thing I’d been singing about.

I lay awake for a few nights, guilt-ridden with the idea that I had committed idolatry.

But even still Ave Maria haunted me. It was like I couldn’t get the words and music out of my head. They were so beautiful and fluid…I found myself inadvertently singing the song. Of  course afterwards I would always confess what I had done to Jesus and beg Him to forgive me for being idolatrous – even though I wouldn’t discover what the words meant until a few years later!

It wasn’t until last night, when I had dinner with my sponsor and her family, that I realized that I had not been an idolater – that I hadn’t even done anything wrong! We were discussing Mary, and the rosary and Scott Hahn. And it hit me that the words of the rosary that I’ve been learning these past few weeks are almost the same words I sang so long ago.

It’s as if Jesus knew all those years ago that He was going to bring me to this place – to realizing that venerating a good person for his or her good deeds is not about idolatry but rather about giving honor and respect where it’s due. For me, my time spent praying the rosary has been a peaceful time of meditation on the virtues that Mary (and Jesus) had. It’s a time for me to think about how I can seek to replicate those virtues in myself. And most of all, it’s a time where I can glorify the Father for how He worked in Mary’s life (and Jesus’ life too).

I sang Ave Maria for the first time in years when I woke up this morning. I haven’t had a voice lesson in years, so I’m more than a little rusty. The sound wasn’t quite as pitch perfect as it would have been at one time, and my vowels weren’t as clear as I would have liked, but it was freeing. It felt like greeting an old friend, or picking up a book I’ve read six times; familiar, warm and inviting.

Really my whole journey into Catholicism has felt that way. It’s as if everything about my life was leading up to this. Every lesson I learned, every song I sang, every book I read, every piece of art I admired, every friend I had, and every church I attended were pointing me Home. My life was a confusing puzzle box  and the Catholic Church was the piece of the puzzle that made all of the other pieces finally make sense.

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3 Responses to “Ave Maria”

  1. SR March 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    “Rusty” or not the Blessed Mother loved it!! God Bless, SR

    • elliejaneohara March 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Thank you, SR! I’m making a pot of coffee right now so I can stay up all night and finish “Hail, Holy Queen.” I’ve finally got some hours to spare for my own personal reading instead of reading for a class! I’ve absolutely loved what I’ve read so far though.

      • SR March 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

        You will never be disappointed with Scott Hahn. I have read every book he has written, and they were all so helpful to me, when coming into the Church. You will have a wonderful night! God Bless, SR

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