Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Olivier Messiaen


We often talk about how to give witness to Christ.  We have pocket speeches ready.  We have arguments prepared.  One just never knows when the opportunity will arise when we have to give witness of our faith.

Tonight, I was looking for inspirational models for a "cloistered brother."  I came across a beautiful story.  The man's name is Olivier Messiaen.

He was a musician and organist in France when France was fighting the Germans in World War II. He also was fiercely devout.  He was captured by the Germans and sent to a prisoner of war camp.  As a musician, he was always singing, and composing musical pieces.  A fellow prisoner, a clarinetist, joined him in his musical endeavors, such as they were, with regards to their conditions.

Luckily, their German guards were music lovers and helped them find or make instruments, here and there.  Eventually, the prison camp orchestra had a pianist, cellist, and a violinist, besides the clarinetist.  Olivier composed a piece and held a concert for the prison camp.  His inspiration was the book of Revelation.  One movement was called, "Praise to the Eternity of Jesus" and the final movements was "Praise to the Immortality of Jesus."
“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire...and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth… And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his 
hand to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever and ever...that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.
Olivier named his opus For the End of Time. It has been called a masterpiece but not many know it because it is so difficult to play.  Not being interested in music, his music isn't what interested me.  It was the fact that the violinist, in the prison camp with Olivier, was an atheist.  But Olivier's music was so beautiful and dedicated to God, that the atheist often wished he had faith.  At least, the beauty Olivier created in his faith-filled heart, and his unwavering love of God forced the atheist to consider the possibility that maybe God existed.  It gave the atheist hope that there was a God.

I am so impressed that in a  prison, Olivier Messiaen gave glory to God in such a way, that an atheist became an agnostic.  It is our behavior that gives the best witness to our faith.


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