'Music is God's Voice'
“Don't forget: music is God's voice,” Brian Wilson reminded us at the induction ceremony of The Beach Boys into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Let’s face it; the Catholic Church has had a lot of bad press over the years. Catholic churches are being abandoned due to lack of attendance, and there is a shortage of priests. Google “Catholic churches abandoned” or “Catholic churches closing” and you can tally up the results. But a surprising appearance on Italian television by a nun seems to be confirming Wilson’s assertion.
As Sister Cristina Scuccia took to the stage last month on Italy’s “The Voice,” the contrast between her and the judges was astonishing. Indeed, comments under various videos of the event revealed many Americans were shocked by the dress and appearance of the shows judges. In short, none of them looked like someone you’d trust to watch your dog, let alone your child.
It was, therefore, even more dramatic when each judge took a look and a listen to Sister Cristina and was overcome with emotion. One stared in reverence, another was nearly brought to tears, and yet another openly dried his eyes. Each one suddenly beamed with the innocence of a child. This begs the question: Why did her performance elicit such a reaction?
I believe it was because they were forced to come face-to-face with the divine. Perhaps it wasn’t so much Sister Cristina herself, but what she represented…a young woman who took a life-changing vow to dedicate her life to God. Regardless of one’s denomination, that’s a decision to be admired. It was equally impressive that she took a song that singer Alicia Keyes performed as a romantic ballad and turned it into a powerful homage to her divine creator. At that moment, the spiritual elephant in the room couldn’t be ignored.
The official YouTube video posted by “The Voice of Italy” has registered more than 41 million views thus far.
There were few people, Catholic or otherwise, who were not moved by her performance. Sister Cristina has said that God is her voice teacher and it is a gift she is sharing. Would that we all acknowledged our own talents as a gift from God that we merely share with the world.
Singing nuns certainly aren’t new. Most notably Jeanine Decker (Sœur Sourire or Sister Smile) rose to fame in 1963 with her internationally acclaimed recording, “Dominique.” A few years later “The Singing Nun,” a loosely based biographical movie, was released starring Debbie Reynolds. In reality, Sister Smile’s life didn’t go so well. Increasingly at odds with the Dominican Order in Belgium that had initially urged her to record her songs, she was eventually forced from the convent against her will. While the proceeds from her recordings were donated back to the church due to her vow of poverty, that didn’t stop the Belgian government from demanding huge sums in back taxes. Financially devastated and abandoned by the church, she eventually took her own life.
I do not know what the future holds for Sister Cristina, but I hope the Catholic Church stands by her. While it may be the personal wish of those who take a vow in the church to serve in near-anonymity, those who decide to share a talent with the world should be equally accepted as a blessing to the church as a whole. Forty-one million souls heard Sister Christina sing and saw her passion. They saw the enthusiasm of a real person instead of some darkly cloaked figure they falsely believe they have nothing in common with. Those same people heard her speak about God, and for many who have known nothing but a secular world, it may have been the first time they were confronted with Him. That just can’t be a bad thing.
Recently, Conservative radio host and outspoken Catholic, Laura Ingraham, appeared on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss how God and Jesus are being banned in the American public arena. Ingraham said:
I think the more you see these attacks on Christian understanding or even religious understanding and history, the more you’re going to see religious people retreating from public life.
In a country, nay world, that is becoming an enemy of the Christian and Jewish God, now is not the time to break the circle of unity that has historically empowered and defined us. Unless there is an egregious error or crime that demands condemnation, believers should embrace their common belief in God against the secular humanism that is conquering every aspect of our culture.
In light of that, this Protestant applauds Sister Cristina. Sing it from the rooftops! And may God take the glory.
Susan D. Harris can be reached at http://susandharris.com/