To gaze on the face of God is to become like Him.
It is to see as He sees, know as He knows, love as He loves, and do what He does.
It is to be remade in the fullness of His likeness.
Kate Basi gives voice to people’s longing for that experience with her latest liturgical composition, “Show Us Your Face.”
“Let hearts that seek the Lord rejoice! Turn to your God and be saved!” the chorus resounds. “No force contain, no power destroy our hope for salvation and grace!”
Mrs. Basi’s hymn has drawn national recognition as one of the three finalists for the Association of Catholic Publishers’ (ACP) 2019 Song of the Year award.
“I was stunned to be nominated, let alone declared a finalist,” said Mrs. Basi, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Columbia.
The theme for this year’s award was social justice.
With a haunting, sublime melody, worshipful words and a challenging message, “Show Us Your Face” is an antiphonal litany, imploring God to reveal Himself under such titles as “Fountain of Mercy,” “‘Voice for Those Silenced,” and “Lover of Outcasts.”
It is based on one of the antiphons from the Mass for the First Sunday of Lent — a time of preparation for God’s revelation in the Jesus’s passion, death and resurrection.
“It doesn’t hit super-hard, but it does raise some questions that move naturally toward social justice,” said Mrs. Basi.
In the daily grit
A Catholic columnist, author, composer, wife, mother and active parishioner, Mrs. Basi believes the way people worship God at Mass affects how they serve Him the rest of the week.
“The Liturgy is the source and summit of the faith life of the Church, so whatever we do in the Liturgy should spill out and ripple past the walls,” she said.
That’s where words and music can inspire families to become the centers of charity and mercy that their parishes are also meant to be.
“When you walk out of church and you’re still singing the words, it can cause you to think about and recognize all the places where our faith should be touching the nitty-gritty of daily life.”
Mrs. Basi pointed to how such Catholic standards as “Be Not Afraid” and “Eagle’s Wings” radiate comfort, while others such as “We are Called” and “They Will Know We Are Christians” ignite an urgent sense of mission.
One that strikes her is Rory Cooney’s “We Will Serve the Lord,” a blazing, Scriptural response to temptation for greed and apathy.
“That is a good song,” said Mrs. Basi. “The more I sang it in college, the more I heard those words calling me to do something.
“That was really the beginning of the path that brought me to where I am now,” she said.
Lately, she has become increasingly concerned about social justice — a Biblical concern for people who are poor, marginalized or otherwise victimized by unjust systems and circumstances — as her writing has drawn her closer to the margins of society.
“My editors have been telling me to focus on where the rubber hits the road, as far as the faith goes,” she said. “That has focused me more and more on the practical: What does it mean to live the faith in the real world?”
That question has been coming into sharper focus for her as she’s helped develop a new website called www.intentional-catholic.com.
“I’m reflecting on the idea of what it means to live the faith in practical ways, and drawing out quotes from Church documents that speak to issues that are important in the modern world,” she said.
One for the books
Mrs. Basi also writes books.
Her latest, The Beatitudes, is about to be released by Our Sunday Visitor Press as part of the Companions in Faith series.
Available from www.OSV.com, it is a short, easy-to-process, action-oriented series of guided meditations on Jesus’s statements that begin with “How blessed are.”
“These are statements we have become so familiar with that they sometimes go right over our heads,” she said. “But they are incredibly powerful if you think about them in daily life.”
The Beatitudes is essentially an examination of conscience, challenging the reader to consider how each Beatitude comes to light in everyday life.
“What does it mean to be a peacemaker in this age with so much division and polarization?” Mrs. Basi asked. “What does it mean to mourn, and how can we find blessing in it?”
“What does persecution look like?” she continued. “Sometimes we call things persecution when people are just calling us out for not living our faith the way we say we do.”
She has also written three short books for Liguori Press on family observances of the liturgical seasons.
Joy to the World, Advent Activities for Your Family; Bring Lent to Life: Activities & Reflections for Your Family; and This Little Light of Mine: Living the Beatitudes is for Ordinary Time can be ordered at www.liguori.org.
Mrs. Basi was a free-lance columnist for Liguorian Magazine for six years and continues to write for Intentional Catholic as well as the Couple to Couple League, a method of Natural Family Planning.
She does all of this from home. She and her husband Christian have four children, ages 14 to 7.
One has Down syndrome.
“That brings with it so many realities that most people don’t even think about,” she said. “So I also talk about the struggles that we’re working on and the issues we face, as a way to increase awareness.”
Her husband is a wellspring of encouragement, support and honest feedback.
“It’s good to have a life partner who will give-and-take with you,” she said. “He keeps me grounded. He’s the one who reins me back in and says, ‘But what about this?’”
Songs of healing
Mrs. Basi is helping revive the Jefferson City diocese’s chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), a group of singers, accompanists and clergy who are dedicated to promoting, supporting and helping improve music for the Liturgy in all parishes.
She has composed several other hymns and liturgical works, deriving particular satisfaction from “Enter In” and “God in the Barren Spaces.”
“Enter In” is based on the people’s response to the invitation at Mass to “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.”
The lyrics call on Jesus to “enter under my roof, make it Your own, fractured, stained and scarred yet longing for You.”
“That phrase, ‘enter under my roof’ (Matthew 8:8), is very striking for me,” she said. “The song is about recognizing the brokenness and asking for healing.”
Another composition, “God in the Barren Spaces,” ties into the theme of brokenness and healing while calling upon God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Fellow composers gave her positive feedback when the piece was performed at a concert sponsored by the Liturgical Composers Forum last year.
“It means a lot when you get affirmation from people you admire,” she said.
She has also arranged a collection of Christmas hymns and carols for piano and flute, and another collection for Easter.
Both are available in sheet music and CD recordings. Visit www.kathleenbasi.com.
The hymn finally chosen for Song of the Year also has Columbia ties.
“Rise Again” was composed by Christian Cosas, who was active in St. Thomas More Newman Center parish while studying at the University of Missouri.
World Library Publications, the hymn’s publisher, calls it a song “written from and for a challenging time in the life of the Church.”
“Though the text gives voice to hard realities, it also returns to the hope provided by Christ’s resurrection that — no matter what — we can and will rise again,” the publisher stated.
“That song has real punch,” said Mrs. Basi. “It’s hard-hitting and speaks to the abuse scandal.”
She’s not the least disappointed at not quite receiving the highest honor.
“I’m just so honored to have been nominated,” she said.