Dear Pope Francis,
It’s not very often that I cave and watch the latest Youtube video craze. The latest video making the rounds is of Sister Cristina, a Sicilian nun who tried out for the Italian version of The Voice by singing “No One” by Alicia Keys. My friend told me that I need to watch it, so while taking a break from the end of semester rush, I watched the clip.
She was a good singer, but there is something else that struck me about the performance: the reaction of the audience and the judges. The audience was cheering like mad for this 25-year-old nun, rocking out on stage in her habit. The judges were confused, and eventually all four gave in, turning their chairs to see who was singing. They were all shocked. After she had finished singing, one of the judges asked Sister Cristina why she tried out for The Voice. Her answer was stuningly simple: “I have a gift and I’m giving it to you. Shouldn’t things be this way?”
And she’s totally right.
All too often I get caught up in my little Catholic bubble. It can be really hard not to, since I go to a theology school, most of my friends are practicing Catholics, about half of whom are studying for the priesthood. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people I hang out with on a regular basis who are not practicing Catholics. I’m not saying this because I’m proud of this fact. Actually, I don’t like it at all.
I think it is important that I have a community around me, like my friends from school and ministry events, but I am not meant to stay exclusively in that community. Even Jesus sent the members of his community out two by two (Luke 10:1-17) and, on another occasion, he sends out the Apostles, telling them to only take what they are wearing, but nothing else (Matthew 10:5-20). One of my favourite Church documents, Gaudium et Spes: The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (GS), issues a similar call for the Chuch to deepen its understanding of explanations, longings and characteristics of the world we live in, so that we speak to the world in a way that it understands (GS 4).
So it’s important for me to grow in my faith by participating in the life of the Church, but I also need to engage the world in a way that is meaningful, both for me and for the world. Engagement is meaningful for me is when I share my gifts and passions, like writing or talking to people. For Sister Cristina, it was meaningful to try out for The Voice, because she obviously has a gift for singing. It is when we engage with the world in ways that are true to our gifts and passions that we can truly be joyous witnesses. To make it meaningful for the world is to keep up with some of the latest pop culture fads, like TV shows or music, and, just maybe, the latest Youtube craze.
Reading the signs of the times,