Beliefnet
The Smoking Priest

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to play a few songs for you.  I hope that you like my music.”

These were the words the poor Mexican guitar player spoke as he suddenly jumped aboard an old bus as it travelled up the Mexican Pacific Coast. 

The poor Mexican guitar player stood in the middle of the bus and began to sing beautiful folk songs as he leaned against one of the seats to keep himself from falling. Our unexpected guest was a perfect tenor. 

As I listened with delight, I began to feel much better.  The poor Mexican guitar player reminded me how beneficial good music is for the soul.

The challenges that we face are many.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times. 

Saint Augustine once wrote: “Why do we now live in anxiety?  Can you expect me not to feel anxious when I read: Is not man’s life on earth a time of trial?  Can you expect me not to feel anxious when the words still ring in my ears: Watch and pray that you will not be put to the test?  Can you expect me not to feel anxious  when there are so many temptations here below that prayer itself reminds us of them, when we say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us?  Every day we make our petitions, every day we sin.  Do you want me to feel secure when I am daily asking pardon for my sins, and requesting help in time of trial?  Because of my past sins I pray: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and then, because of the perils still before me, I immediately go on to add: Lead us not into temptation.  How can all be well with people who are crying out with me: Deliver us from evil?

Nevertheless, the poor Mexican guitar player reminded me that although we go through many trials and tribulations during our earthly journey to eternity, we must always sing.  We sing with hope and joy because God is faithful.  “Sing to the Lord and new song.  Sing to the Lord, all the earth” (Psalm 96: 1).

We do live in difficult times.  Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  However, people of faith who firmly believe that God is faithful must never be discouraged.

Now is the time to struggle, but always with a song.  In eternity, we can sing forever. 

Saint Augustine affirms this idea when he says: “O the happiness of the heavenly alleluia, sung in security, in fear of no adversity!  We shall have no enemies in heaven; we shall never lose a friend.  God’s praises are sung both there and here, but here they are sung in anxiety, there, in security;  here they are sung by those destined to die, there, by those destined to live forever; here they are sung in hope, there, in hope’s fulfillment; here they are sung by wayfarers, there, by those living in their own country.”

As the bus travelled along a very bumpy road, the poor Mexican guitar player continued to sing.  However, suddenly he had to stop because one of his guitar strings broke unexpectedly. 

I turned to him and asked him what he was going to do.  Serenely he told me that he was going to fix it and sing again tomorrow. 

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