Joy for the Journey

Singer Jackie Francois on the Catholic journey. blogger Matthew Warner recently interviewed Catholic singer-songwriter Jackie Francois (who was our “Single Life” columnist last issue). Francois just released a new album.
“Why’d you create your latest album, Divine Comedy? What’s the meaning and purpose behind it?” Warner asked. Francois replied, “The Divine Comedy album is a mix of worship, radio and liturgical/hymn-like songs. Divine Comedy is named for the fact that this life is full of ups and downs. Just as Dante goes through hell, purgatory and heaven in his classic book, I realized that in this life we go through ebbs and flows of pain, suffering and joy. Ultimately, though, just as every Shakespearean comedy ends with a wedding, this life is a divine comedy because it ends with the eternal wedding feast in heaven, where Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are the Bride. Through it all, God calls us and woos us into this union with him here on this earth, to know his love that satisfies.”
“You do a lot of work as both a speaker and a musician. Do you consider yourself one more than the other? How do you find the mixing of the two? Warner asked. “When I was in college, I always wondered what I would do for a living. I knew I loved youth ministry, but I also loved being part of music ministry. When God called me to be a full-time traveling worship leader and speaker, it finally made sense,” she shared. “I felt like I was using my full potential, giving all my gifts for his glory. People ask which I would rather do — lead worship or speak — but the truth is: I love doing both. I love that I can lead a talk and interweave music within it and lead people in prayer with music at the beginning or end. Sometimes I would rather give a talk first, since I feel like, especially with confirmation students, you can open their hearts up a lot by using humor and then proclaiming the Gospel, providing a wonderful openness to authentic prayer.”
“You’re a funny gal,” Warner observed. “How important is comedy to evangelization?”
The response: “Humor is so important. People in this world think that if you are passionately Catholic you lack all passion, humor and joy. When I meet people on planes (which is all the time, since I travel every week), they are absolutely shocked that I am Catholic, because I have a huge smile on my face (almost all the time) and crack jokes. Our hearts, which can be guarded and afraid, are put at ease with humor. We feel more open to a person when they give us joy and laughter, and, ultimately, we are led to God, because he is the source of joy. One of my favorite quotes is from Blessed Mother Teresa, who said, ‘Joy is the net of love by which we catch souls.’ People won’t always remember what you say, but they’ll remember your presence, and people are drawn to those with joy. Like St. Teresa of Avila said, ‘I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits. ... What would happen if we hid what little sense of humor we had? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.’ I try to use humor because 1) I am a big goofball, and 2) it opens up people to the message of the Gospel. St. Katharine Drexel said, ‘We must attract them by joy in order to lead them to its source, the heart of Christ.’ Amen!”
And here’s the joyful singer’s insightful response to: “In each moment of your life, how do you know if you’re doing what God wants you to be doing?”
“So, I’ve heard that this is not the same for everyone, but God is very clear with me when he wants me to do something. I’ve had a few times in my life when God shouted at me through anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I really believe that we are supposed to experience peace and joy when we’re in the right vocation, job, relationship, etc. Of course there are struggles, times of sacrifice and trials, but peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit that are extremely apparent when doing God’s will.
“When I knew I had to take that leap from being a youth minister to a full-time traveling musician/speaker, I had this unsettledness that made me know I was supposed to have peace and joy in what he made me to do. With nothing ahead of me, I quit my job, and started the ministry I am in now. God surely provided, and I have had so much peace and joy in this ministry. I felt the same way when a boyfriend of mine was about to propose. I had extreme anxiety in my belly, knowing for some reason that this guy was not ‘the One.’ Turns out, he was called to the seminary. So, you’re welcome, Church! Just kidding — it was all God’s idea.”