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Jan 30, 2024 933 Denise Jasek
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The Upside of Downtime

Lent is round the corner. Are you feeling reluctant to give up your favorites?

Growing up, I was one boisterous kid with a rather loud mouth and a deep love for music. One of my earliest memories was turning the radio on all by myself and hearing music magically come out of that little box. It was like a whole new world opened up for me!

My whole family loved music, and we were often singing, playing the piano, strumming the guitar, listening to classical music, or making up our own ditties. I remember thinking that life would be so much better if there was a sweet soundtrack playing in the background.

I passed on this love of music to my children. As a young family, we had songs for pretty much every occasion, including our prayer times. Now, all of us lead music in some shape or form, and I currently serve as a music minister for two parishes. Music is a source of great joy and life!

One day, however, it hit me square between the eyes that I was too attached to music.

That Lent, I gave up listening to music in the car. That was a doozy for me, for I always listened to music while driving. This habit was particularly hard to break. It was like an automatic knee-jerk reaction. Every time I got into my car, my hand flew up to pop in a CD.

But I persisted and eventually trained my hand not to touch any buttons but to make the sign of the cross instead. Then, I replaced listening to music with prayer, with praying the rosary specifically. That was seven years ago, and I have not looked back. I have grown to greatly appreciate this downtime with God.

Downtime with the Lord gives us the space we all desperately need to disconnect from exterior things and connect to our interior life. It helps us regain peace. It helps us lean in and better listen to God.  Recall how Saint John the Evangelist rested up against Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper. Now, imagine yourself leaning in so close that you could feel Jesus’ heartbeat.

God wants us to lean in. To create a space in our daily lives where we rest our heads upon His Sacred Heart and learn from Him or simply rest our weary souls.

Being a lover of music, I used to always have a tune running through my mind, and oftentimes, this was a real distraction. Now, if I have a tune in my mind, I stop and ask God if He is communicating something to me through it. This morning, for instance, I woke up to a tune I hadn’t heard in ages, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; I will sing, I will sing.”

Music is the language of the heart. I believe God delights in our sung praises to Him and that He often is singing over us. So, I still sing! However, I feel particularly blessed when singing leads to a place of silence, or what I like to call ‘pregnant silence,’ a place of profound intimacy with the Lord. I especially appreciate this quiet space right after receiving Holy Communion.

In our busy lives, creating downtime with the Lord is often a battle. Praying the rosary helps me tremendously with this battle, which makes sense since our Blessed Mother is a champion of contemplation. “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Jesus Himself modeled for us the importance of entering into silence, as He often withdrew to a quiet spot to be alone with His Heavenly Father.

One day this past summer, while on a crowded beach during a family reunion, I found myself under-rosaried and edgy. I was craving quiet time with the Lord. My daughter recognized I was not myself and casually mentioned it. I decided to venture out into the lake alone for an hour and discovered that if I went underwater, I would find my quiet zone. I prayed a rosary while swimming that afternoon and regained my peace.

“The more we pray, the more we wish to pray. Like a fish which at first swims on the surface of the water, and afterward plunges down, and is always going deeper, the soul plunges, dives, and loses itself in the sweetness of conversing with God.”—Saint John Vianney.

Holy Spirit, help us find the quiet time we so desperately need, so we can better hear Your Voice and simply rest in Your Embrace.

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Denise Jasek

Denise Jasek has served the Catholic Church for many years. She is currently a music minister, mom of five mostly grown children, and lives in Ohio with her beloved husband Chris.

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