Luke Spehar: An exclusive studio session

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Singer-songwriter Luke Spehar stopped by Denver Catholic for an exclusive studio session during his All Is Gift Tour, and is offering free music downloads to Denver Catholic readers (see bottom of story).

Spehar is a Minnesota native and cradle Catholic. He said that while his faith has always influenced his music, he was never drawn to produce “corporate” praise and worship songs. Instead, he wanted to emulate his musical heroes, most of whom are acoustic performers.

“When I started picking up the guitar, for me it was more interesting to play finger style and learn early folk musicians,” Spehar said. “That was just more interesting to me, and so, musically, that’s just the direction I pursued.”

All of Spehar’s songs flow from personal reflections. For example, “Sweet Memories” explores his relationship with his siblings and their shared experiences growing up in Minnesota.

“That’s ultimately what inspired this song: the beauty and the gift of family, and just the sweet memories that you form, even at such a young age, that are a part of you and you keep with you as you grow up,” Spehar said.

Spehar joined the seminary after high school, which he said was a tremendous gift. Another of his songs, “An Explanation,” deals with his emotions surrounding a breakup before he entered.

“[It’s about] that struggle of moving from my plan to the Lord’s plan, and the pain that can cause. It was a really honest song for where I was in my life,” he said.

Spehar was in seminary for four years before he said he felt the Lord call him out. He said he spent those years praying that God would set him on fire for his next move. It was during his last year of college seminary that he released his first album, “Be Still.” Spehar said the release party was a success, with a few hundred people in attendance.

“I was in a different place of joy, and I really hit a stride,” Spehar said.

He prayed, and said he became assured that God wanted him to pursue him through music.

“I think that’s one of the most exciting things about being extreme in your faith,” Spehar said. “I made an extreme move in faith to think about being a priest… The Lord rewarded me by showing me what I wanted. I think that’s the biggest thing, is he showed me what I wanted and then he gave it to me.”

Spehar is now married, with a baby on the way. He and his wife blog about their adventures as a newly-married couple on tour at www.lukespehar.com. He continues to write music and practices relentlessly, especially his more technically difficult songs, such as one about St. Michael.

He said “To St. Michael” flowed from a feeling of gratitude for the angels that protect us. His song mimics the anxiety of a spiritual attack—beginning with slow picks and crescendo into a multi-layered rhythm of rapid chords.

“It’s a very challenging song,” Spehar said.

Spehar is offering free downloads of three of his songs to Denver Catholic readers. You can download Sweet Memories” here, “An Explanation” here, and “To St. Michael” here. He offers an additional song at his website, www.lukespehar.com.

COMING UP: Lebanese priest: ‘We need your prayers’ after Beirut explosions

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A Lebanese Catholic priest has asked believers around the world to pray for the people of his country, after two explosions in Beirut injured hundreds of people and are reported to have left at least 10 people dead.

“We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” Fr. Miled el-Skayyem of the Chapel of St. John Paul II in Keserwan, Lebanon, said in a statement to EWTN News Aug. 4.

“We are currently going through a difficult phase in Lebanon, as you can see on TV and on the news,” the priest added.

Raymond Nader, a Maronite Catholic living in Lebanon, echoed the priest’s call.

“I just ask for prayers now from everyone around the world. We badly need prayers,” Nader told CNA Tuesday.

Explosions in the port area of Lebanon’s capital overturned cars, shattered windows, set fires, and damaged buildings across Beirut, a city of more than 350,000, with a metro area of more than 2 million people.

“It was a huge disaster over here and the whole city was almost ruined because of this explosion and they’re saying it’s kind of a combination of elements that made this explosion,” Antoine Tannous, a Lebanese journalist, told CNA Tuesday.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosions, but investigators believe they may have started with a fire in a warehouse that stored explosive materials. Lebanon’s security service warned against speculations of terrorism before investigators could assess the situation.

According to Lebanon’s state-run media, hundreds of injured people have flooded hospital emergency rooms in the city.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has declared that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning. The country is almost evenly divided between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Chrsitians, most of whom are Maronite Catholics. Lebanon also has a small Jewish population, as well as Druze and other religious communities.

Featured image: A picture shows the scene of an explosion near the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)