CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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By way of music…

A new tool is in our midst. A tool that facilitates evangelisation. What I am referring to here is a new songbook, a collection of songs from four of the Catholic youth bands that are active in our diocese, each one of them with its own way of bringing the joy of the cospel to the people around the city and beyond.
It is in keeping with this spirit of sharing the joy that the Diocesan Youth Commission, through its Development Group, came up with the idea of collecting some of the songs from bands like Corner Stone, Prism Music, AMDG (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam [For the greater glory of God]), FreeUp Music, so that their different works may be put together and shared as a way to help the people praise God and strengthen the bond among themselves through worship. 
The message these youth bands want to promote and, most importantly the creativity behind the songs, were things that attracted our attention. And by doing so, the Youth Commission wanted to cultivate the awareness among young people that talents do not have to be buried, but instead well used to impact the world in one way or another. 
These young musicians have received the talents to write, compose and sing so that evangelisation may wear another glorious robe, especially in our society today. And this goes without saying that promoting these songs among us is a way to give back to the Lord what he has already instilled in us: the sense of gratitude. All it needs is to let it come out as thanksgiving. This book is thanksgiving.
In his preface to the songbook, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha of Hong Kong, did not fail to mention the importance of singing a “new song to the Lord” (Psalm 33:3). A new song that is, according to his words, a special song, the one that expresses the special connection between the songwriter (or the singer) and the Lord. This is the kind of connection he encouraged the young people to establish with the Lord. And the stronger this connection is, the better our witness becomes in this world in need of true disciples. 
In my second preface to the book, I emphasised the need of bringing youthfulness into our actions and songs, that a different kind of praise may be given to the Lord. A praise by living and joyful people, not the bored ones, because what makes a song special is also the energy and dynamism we put into it. Together, let us praise the Lord!
To launch the songbook, a workshop was held in Po Chiu Catholic Secondary School, a CICM (Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)-run school in Yau Tong, last October 6. Together with all the bands involved in the project, the participants had the opportunity to attend a worship-like performance, to exchange their views on some selected songs and on what direction should be given to the book. 
When, where and how to use the book? To use this book during our youth gatherings is to encourage those behind these songs in their mission of evangelisation. To promote this book among the faithful is to help the people get in touch with a message that is written differently and that serves as a bridge between God and his people. To celebrate this work is an act of recognition of the beauty can be felt when the people of God gather together to enjoy the presence of the Spirit in their midst. What else can I say? “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126: 3). 
Yes, we are filled with joy especially when the young people feel the call to do something meaningful and give the best of themselves to come up with good results. Some bands like AMDG have a simple but meaningful way to express their wish: “may our music bring you closer to God.” Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, AMDG came to life in 2013 and is active in evangelisation through music. The group has composed more than 50 songs, all inspired by scriptures and prayers. One of their songs Genesis has won the Veritas Cup, an international Chinese writing composition organised by Radio Veritas Asia. This was in 2014. 
Corner stone is an initiative of some young people from Our Lady of Mont Carmel Church in Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island. As time went on, their message also went far beyond parochial boundaries to attract more members from different areas of the lovely city. And why Corner stone? This name can trace its source back to the building of that church in Wan Chai. Located inside a tall building, finding it on a map can require some special attention. That is why the young people thought it was good to name the group “Corner stone”, which is clear reference to Matthew 21:42 where Jesus says: “Have you never read in the scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it?.” Yes, the Church is that building’s cornerstone, a place that gives it its true splendour. 
As one can read on Prism Music’s Facebook page: “Prism is a band formed by a group of young Chinese Catholics peppered around the Bay Area Community. Our goal is to spread the gospel through music. Also, we hope that we can use the harmony we have created to present the sense of community and unity of God. Prism is a transparent solid that can reflect rays of light and dispersing light into a spectrum. When there is light, prism can reflect a blend of colourful light to various directions. We are just like prism. By relying on the light of God, we can enlighten ourselves and reflect light of God in many different ways. We would like to utilizse our various music training and backgrounds, and spread God’s love and good news to different parts of the world.” Relying on God’s light to spread light, this is quite a noble mission.
Free Up Music is another youth band that believes that young people are creative, brave enough to keep up with the changing times, and are willing to make a difference. According to them, the young people are the key to a better society. All they need is opportunity and better guidance. This is why the group is committed to nurturing and creating music as a way to engage the young people in a healthy relationship with the Lord. 
All these groups work together with schools, parishes and other organisations to spread the love of God among his people. By promoting this songbook, we contribute to the building of a happy City of God here on earth. 樂道, is the title of the songbook in Chinese. It is a tool of evangelization by ‘way of music’. Together, let us “sing a new song to the Lord”. 
Father Dominique Mukonda CICM
The Diocesan Youth Commission.

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