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Welcome to Charisms for Catholics


Hello, and welcome to Charisms for Catholics. In our latest episode, hosted by Jill Simons, we delved deep into the lives of saints who embodied the charism of music. Our esteemed guest, Theresa Zoe Williams, provided insights into how these saints used their musical talents to glorify God and inspire others. Let’s explore the highlights and stories shared during this enriching episode.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen: The Musical Mystic

Our first saint, Saint Hildegard of Bingen, is a stunning example of the music charism. Despite never having received formal musical education, Hildegard’s knowledge and contribution to music were extraordinary and can only be described as miraculous. More of her musical works have survived than from any other medieval composer. This demonstrates how her supernatural gift of music transcended ordinary human ability, proving that God can bless us with talents beyond our natural capabilities.
Hildegard’s chants are still available today, and many choirs perform her works, allowing us to experience the divine beauty that she created centuries ago. Her increasing popularity, partly due to modern-day influences like authors and podcasters, highlights the lasting impact of her contributions to the Catholic faith through music and art.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: A Harmonious Soul

Next on our list is Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. Unlike Hildegard, Elizabeth had substantial natural musical talent, particularly as a pianist and choir singer. The musical quality extended into her spiritual writings, infusing a divine cadence into her words.
Elizabeth’s life is a testament to how God can elevate natural gifts to extraordinary purposes. There are wonderful resources available, such as Claire Dwyer’s book on Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, which offer deeper insights into her life and works.

Blessed Dina Belanger: From Concert Pianist to Religious Life

Blessed Dina Belanger aspired to be a concert pianist, harnessing her natural talent for music. When she felt the call to religious life, she didn’t leave her love for music behind but incorporated it into her vocation. Teaching music and playing for her choir, she exemplified how God often asks us to yield our ambitions only to return them in a form that aligns with His divine plan.
Dina’s story reassures us that when we surrender our desires to God, He often fulfills them in ways more beautiful and impactful than we could imagine.

Saint Ephraim the Syrian: Hymns Against Heresies

Our final saint, Saint Ephraim the Syrian, used music as a powerful tool to combat heresies in the early Church. Living between the 100s and 300s, Ephraim wrote hundreds of hymns and poems to help the faithful remember and understand the tenets of Christianity amidst rampant heretical teachings.
Through Saint Ephraim’s contributions, we see how music can be a compelling medium for teaching and preserving the faith. His influence is a reminder of the power of music in both ancient and modern worship.

Embracing the Charism of Music

Music as a spiritual gift has the power to uplift, teach, and inspire. Whether you’re a professional musician or someone who simply loves to sing in the shower, the charism of music can be a pathway to sharing God’s love with the world.
If you believe you have this charism, we encourage you to bring your hopes and dreams to God. Trust that He will guide you to use your gifts in the most fulfilling and fruitful ways possible. To continue your journey of discovering and discerning your charisms, visit Many Parts Ministries and take our charism assessment.

Jill Simons:
Hello, and welcome to Charisms for Catholics. My name is Jill Simons, and I’m the executive director at Many Parts Ministries, where we equip the body of Christ by helping people learn about and discern their charisms, which is really another word for spiritual gifts. When you discern your charisms, you’re able to see how the holy spirit is already active in your life and where he is inviting you to further build the church. Let’s dive in.

Jill Simons:
Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of Charisms for Catholics. Today, we are talking about saints for the charisms specifically of music. This is 1 where this is kind of the the charism on our assessment that we always say people usually have it as the highest or the lowest, and it is rare, not impossible, but it is rare that this is in the middle because people are either musically talented or somewhere north of town or north of tone deaf. So it just kind of depends where you fall on the spectrum. But these are going to be saints we’re gonna share about today that definitely had a gift for music and used it specifically to help people encounter God. So once again, we have our staff member, Theresa Zoe Williams, with us today, who is our resident saint expert, going to be sharing with us about several saints who lived out this charism of music. So, Theresa, so good to have you.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Thanks, Jill. Always good to be back. Love doing this with you.

Jill Simons:
So let’s go ahead and kick it off talking about our first saint with the charism of music.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Yes. Saint Hildegard of Bingen. I chose her because she’s doctor of the church. She’s a very in your face kind of example of what it means to have the music charism. She was a musician first and foremost, but despite never having a formal education, she was very knowledgeable about all things music related, and that’s kind of that’s, not kind of, that is miraculous. Like, this is very much showing that her talent in this did not come from her or from a natural place. It was a supernatural ability given to her. And and more of her chants survive than from any other medieval composer that existed.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
So we have more work from her through this time period than from anybody else from that time period, and all from someone who had no formal education, no formal music training at all. So I just I love her as that that beacon of it’s not just natural talent that I mean, a lot of people who have the music charism have a lot of natural talent. But for her, it was all supernatural. So God really does give out things that maybe you’re not naturally attuned to.

Jill Simons:
I love that. That’s awesome. She was multifaceted, and it’s very cool that music was such a big part of that. And like you said, that more of her work survives so that we are able to still encounter God in the music that she created for us.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Yes. Yes. There are. If you’re on, like, Spotify or Streamer, you can find some choirs doing her chants and things still. So it was really cool, to see her or to hear her work still be and, I mean, you could see a lot of her work too. She did a lot of different things, but you can hear her music still. And it is still just as uplifting as it been in the the medieval times. So I love her.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
I love I love that she’s becoming more popular now. She was kind of more unknown, more obscure, and then she was declared a doctor of the church. And she’s kind of been coming into the forefront more. And, like, Hailey Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas and all of her wonderful things, all of her cool projects, her youngest is Hildegard after Hildegard of Bengen. Mhmm. Just because of, all of the ways that Hildegard contributed to the Catholic faith through music and art, especially.

Jill Simons:
Yeah. That’s awesome. I have been hearing more and more lately also about our next

Theresa Zoe Williams:
saint. Yes. Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. She was a very gifted pianist, so she’s someone that did have a lot of the natural talent, and she also would sing in her parish choir. So God working with our natural gifts to bring supernatural results from them and give them a supernatural flavor. Even the way she spoke about the Trinity and our relationship with the Trinity has a musical quality to it. Like, if you read some of her works or or her quotes and things, it kind of has a lilt to it. So, like, music was just in every fiber of her being, so much so that she couldn’t speak without a certain cadence to it.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
You know? And how cool is that that God takes this natural inclination and makes it so much bigger and so much more encompassing than it would have been on its own just as a natural gift.

Jill Simons:
Absolutely. That’s that grace builds on nature piece of things. And I know that Claire Dwyer has a great book on Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. If you’re interested, Claire is a dear friend of Many Parts and of the podcast, and, we will put the link to her book in the show notes as well because it’s very good.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Yeah. Yeah.

Jill Simons:
Now I have never heard of our next saint.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
You know, the only reason I ever heard of her was because when I attended Franciscan University, I joined a household, and our our household gave everybody an individual patron saint when you joined, so no overlaps or anything. So everybody got a different saint, and we have banners in our common room listing all of the saints, and we’d do a, a litany after every rosary we would pray. And her name was on there, and I thought, blessed Dina Belanger. What an interesting name. Like, Dina isn’t a name you hear very often, and and especially another blessed among a bunch of saints, I think, in the in the banner. She happened to be the only blessed in the 1 column or something like that. So she just stood out to me. And it turns out, as most things do, that she’s really cool.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
She’s really gifted and and beautiful. She had studied music and planned to become a concert pianist. So, again, this natural ability that, Grace builds upon, And, I mean, she was sought out for her musical ability. She was asked to play in certain places and all that. And then she heard the call for religious life, and she answered that. And instead of, like, having to give up that piece of herself, she got to teach music when she was in, and they and she would play for the choir and things like that during mass and and things. So she got to use it even more than perhaps she would have elsewise, in a very different setting, but not a lesser setting Mhmm. If that makes sense.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
So Dina Belanger.

Jill Simons:
That’s cool because, you know, I think that there’s those things that a lot of times will bundle together with, like, a specific kind of life. So people that do wanna do music professionally or something like that, and there’s a certain level of, like, whether it’s status or glamour or whatever that we kind of expect to go along with that, a lot of times people that are both faithful people and talented people can feel like then that’s not a valid route. Like, I need to, you know, say no to the glitz and glamour and all these things, and and maybe in some sit situations that’s true. Definitely, there are, you know, negative places and part things to be a part of and stuff like that. But so often, we find that when people really do surrender those things, those desires really are fulfilled even if the avenue is different than what we would have expected, and this really speaks to that lie that we hear a lot of times. People will look at their charisms and say, okay. Well, that’s all well and good, but I feel like the cross is that I’m not gonna get to do these things. And to have someone like this, saint or blessed Dina who have wanted this concert pianist life potentially, and then to lay that down to receive it back in a different way from God as a part of her religious vocation is just very indicative of how this works so frequently is that we have to let it go of kind of our way of doing this thing so that God can show us his way of doing maybe something incredibly similar because these gifts that he does give us, he wants us to use.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Right. It makes me think when you were speaking, it made me think of, Abraham and Isaac, Just laying down what you wanted your entire life and giving it back to God and then receiving it tenfold back to you.

Jill Simons:
Mhmm. Absolutely.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Just it just ends up different than what you envisioned. Why? Because our our imaginations aren’t limitless Yeah. Unfortunately. Like, there are limitations to our understanding and our ability to see what can come. And blessed Dina is just such a great example of another one of just laying down what you love, not because you wanna burden yourself, but because you know that you’ll get it back even more in some form. Mhmm. And she did. It’s not it’s not like well, it is like Job.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
It it like, exactly like Job. He everything was taken from him, and then he stayed faithful, and it was given back to him tenfold. Mhmm. And that’s just I mean, we focus a lot on suffering as Catholics, and for good reason. There’s an incredible worries that comes from suffering. But what we don’t necessarily take to heart or understand very well is that we don’t have to search for the suffering. We just have to encounter it as we go and that it’s not something we do to ourselves. It’s something that is given to us.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
And there’s never, I mean, there’s never a cross, a crucifixion without the resurrection around the corner.

Jill Simons:
Yeah. Absolutely. And, you know, as I tell my kids all the time, I am always like, there’s plenty of crosses. Don’t go making your own. Like, it’s it’s like we don’t need to, you know, just decide that something is too far gone or what have you or just completely outlawed. And I see it’s funny because, it’s actually very similar to this kind of charism of music. Music is not one of my charisms, but because of a lot of time and effort, I’ve been able to build my musical skills and always, as a young person, was thinking I was going to pursue a career in musical theater and had a lot of really incredible opportunities to do that and ultimately knew, discerned that that wasn’t the path that God had for me right now. He would have let me go down it if I wanted to, but I’m pretty sure it would have led to a lot of pain and suffering.

Jill Simons:
And so I’m thankful that I was able to hear from him. And now all of the things that I loved about being able to create things and, share things with people that were, you know, really embodied is what I get to do now on this podcast when I go and speak all kinds of places, and it’s just in his way that he had for me to do it. It’s never gonna be on Broadway now, but it’s so much better and it’s so much, more fulfilling for me. And I think that this comes up a lot for people with music as a charism, deciding, discerning which direction do I go with it, how big do I wanna try and hit it with this, and what is it that really the the place that God wants this to have in my life.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Yeah. See now music is one of my charisms. Not one of my top five, but, like, just outside the top five where I scored. If you take our charism assessment, you’ll see, that it scores everything for you on a a scale of 0 to 25, I believe.

Jill Simons:
We’ve gone to colors now since you took it. Yes. Okay. It’s colors now. So we have green, orange, and red so people don’t get hung up on the numbers anymore.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Okay. Well, then this would still be in the green because I scored a 21 on it. Yeah. So I’d be in the green, but it’s not 1 of the top 5. I had a few that scored in the twenties. Blessedly, because that is not my doing. That is, again, a testament to openness, to the Lord. But music is one of my charisms, and seeing seeing how it’s played in my life like, music is a huge part of my life.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
I cannot go through a day without listening to some sort of music or having some sort of music stuck in my head or or whistling a little tune while I do something. Like, there’s always music going on. And to that point, I play 5 or 6 instruments and sing and, but I don’t have a talent for writing my own music. It’s not where God has called my music talent. I can play anything that you put in front of me, but I can’t compose it myself. I can transpose. I can write accompaniment music to, like, a song or something like that. Cannot create it from scratch for whatever it’s worth.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
And so, like, I always knew that that was not a a path that I could take Yeah. Career wise Mhmm. Because I wouldn’t be able to to hack it career wise. And that what a mercy that is, in having one door shut, even though it’s something that is very dear to me and very a very big part of my life, but having that door very much shut and being like, nope. That’s not where you’re gonna go. I have something different for you. Yeah. Absolutely.

Jill Simons:
Let’s hear about our last guy for this week. Another one I don’t know, Saint Ephraim.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Yes. Saint Ephraim, the Syrian. He was, like, in the 100s or 300s sometime back then. Excuse me for not remembering which one. But there were heresies. So especially in the Early Church, a lot of heresies popped up as we’re trying to understand who God and who Jesus Christ really is and trying to articulate that. So Saint Ephraim would write hymns in order to counteract the heresies of his time. So he would use music as a throughway to people to get them to remember things better, and to understand them better so that they would know the truth over the other heresies that were being promulgated, at the time.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
And he, I mean, he wrote hundreds and hundreds of hymns and poems on the faith that inflamed and inspired the whole Church and with such originality and such imagery and and skill. And he captured the hearts of the early Christians so well that he’s given credit for awakening the Church to the importance of music and poetry and spreading and fortifying the faith. So, again, the way that music interacts with our brains, helps us remember things better, helps us, find joy a lot easier, calls us to action a lot more. And that’s why it’s so important, like, what we consume, to be aware of what we’re consuming, because music does have these effects on our life. Of course, you can always counteract something. You can always just listen to something for fun, but what you’re really consuming and and, surrounding yourself with all the time, you wanna be careful with.

Jill Simons:
And that’s such a huge part of our faith now, you know, the the hymns and mass and the, you know, VBS songs that you used to, like, learn it as a kid, and my Yeah. 4 year old is constantly putting on, musicals for us with Jesus Loves Me and This Little Light of Mine and things like that, which I’m sure Saint Ephraim did not write, but same idea, like, he’s bringing this where, you know, I we don’t hear about music in the life of Christ and the life of the apostles, but we know that it had to be there in some sense, some form, whatever that was, because, if for no other reason that Christ had all the charisms. So we know that, you know, and we know that there’s parts of, like Jewish celebrations and things like that that are chanted and sung and things like that that he would have done as an observant Jew in the 1st century, and that is just very cool to point it back to someone who helped make the leap from sounds like taking it out of, the very, ritualistic place that it had been likely in the lives of Christ and the apostles into more of the, like, evangelist evangelistic part of the church.

Theresa Zoe Williams:
Yeah. More if we wanna use, like, terms today, like, the more popular side, of things, into into the secular world, and it wasn’t just something that’s done for worship now. Now it’s something that we can live daily, live every moment of, And, again, that’s certainly a huge part of my life. I can’t tell you how many, Like, even as we’re talking about different saints and things today, just what different songs start going through my head or different lyrics and things, as we talk about different subjects and, how how they or or, like, thinking on my past performances. I was in choir and band all through school, and I took piano lessons on the side and always had recitals. And I was in dance, which requires music in in their recitals, and just remembering all of those good things, that music has done for me and given to me, throughout my life as we’re speaking. So

Jill Simons:
That’s awesome. Well, we want to encourage you and inspire you if music is your charisma to continue to just let God be the one imagining what that looks like in your life, and to continue just surrendering that to him, bringing that to him, bringing him your hopes, maybe you hope to be the next Lauren Daigle or the next Matt Maher, or maybe you are really just desiring to have a position that uses your music charism fully. Bring those desires, those dreams, whatever they are to him, and be ready to lay them down so that he can show you their fruition in the way that he has imagined for you, which we know is always gonna be the most fulfilling, most fruitful way to live. So we’ll be back 2 weeks from now with our next episode about the charism of, missionary and the mercy or and the and and the mercy that goes with it and the saints that go with it, and, that will be after our episode next week, which is going to be just a regular episode of the podcast. So we’ll see you again chatting about saints 2 weeks from now. I hope that you have a great week.

Jill Simons:
Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode of charisms for Catholics. If you would like to learn more about your charisms or begin your own discernment journey, head to our website at many parts ministries dotcom where you can download our free pdf guide to all 24 charisms and also begin your own journey by taking our charism assessment.