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Apr 10, 2024 124 Josh Blakesley
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When Faith Meets Music

When a terrible loss led Josh Blakesley into the light, music from his soul became a balm to many bleeding hearts.

Growing up in the small town of Alexandria, Josh was a carefree child.

He grew up listening to his Dad’s music; two elder sisters with a great music collection was a bonus that nurtured his musical taste. Without professional training or theoretical inputs, in an age with no internet and YouTube, Josh had what he would later call ‘a side entry’ into the world of music. Starting on the drums and simultaneously learning to sing, he was enamored by the likes of Don Henley and Phil Collins, following their legendary works through magazines and books.

With his mother, though, Church was a non-negotiable matter. Thanks to her insistence, he went to Mass every Sunday. But he would leave God there and live the rest of his life on a totally different plane.

Diving Deeper

They met in Spanish class when he was 15, and unlike any other 15-year-old, she took him along to a prayer meeting. This was new and different from anything he had experienced before. Teenagers his age were coming together to worship the Lord. This worship experience was modern and engaging…with music, talks, and skits by people his age! He was intrigued, but he wouldn’t have kept coming back every week if Jenny hadn’t asked him to.

Several months later, Jenny was hit by a drunk driver and killed in an accident. Her loss was a huge blow to the entire community. As he struggled with the grief of losing her, it triggered a realization that life here is finite, and there must be purpose in it, a reason that we are living.

From that very moment, he began a journey, searching for answers to the questions that fascinated him…‘What is the reason for me? What is the purpose of what I’m doing right now? Why has God put me on this planet? What’s my role while I’m here?’

He started diving more into why we were here on this planet. In realizing that his gifts were from God, and in searching for a purpose in the use of these gifts, he realized that he wanted to give back to God and return the love.

A Bolt of Realization

He started playing music for Mass and getting involved in the liturgy. As he puts it: “There has been a faith part to my music and a music part to my faith as well. Those are still ingrained. I pray through music a lot”. And it is this experience of prayer that he tries to hand over to his brethren through writing and playing music. The “awesome and overwhelming” experience of leading people into worship and hearing them singing along makes him whisper so often: “The Lord is moving right now, and I don’t have to work.”

Bridging the Gap

Josh is now a full-time singer, songwriter, producer, music director, husband, and dad.

Even while leading the music at Mass every Sunday, Josh knows that Mass can happen without music—what a musician does at Mass doesn’t bring Jesus any greater into the room; He is there regardless. What a musician can do is “elevate the worship of the faithful by bringing some extra beauty through music.” This indeed, is one of his life goals—to try and bridge that gap and bring quality music into the liturgy.

But he doesn’t stop there; in addition to adding beauty to the Sacramental experience, he goes another mile to bring God to the people.

Right from His Heart

As a Catholic musician, Josh writes songs for the Mass and writes from the heart. Sometimes, when it comes out, it might not be out rightly Mass-material, but what comes out is still a tribute to God for the gift of music.

He relates that his song Even in This was such an experience right from his heart.

The Church community he was part of had just lost a teen, and seeing them go through the pain, the tragedy, and the devastation took him back to his own experience of losing a dear friend in his teenage years. Diving into the pain, he wrote that even in these darkest nights, God is with us. In the ‘valleys of pain’, in the ‘shattered, broken things’, in the ‘ hurt you cannot hide’ and the ‘fear you cannot fight’, he reassures his listeners that though you cannot see God, “You are not alone.”

This is one message Josh wants to repeat to the world: “God is moving with you.”

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Josh Blakesley

Josh Blakesley is the Music Director at St. Faustina Catholic Church outside Houston, Texas, where he lives with his wife and their two children. Article is based on the interview given by Josh on the Shalom World program “Beats”. To watch the episode, visit: shalomworld.org/episode/when-faith-meets-music-josh-blakesley

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