Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grace Before Reading...and Watching...and Listening

Being Catholic is not about going to church on Sunday.  It is not about knowing the Catechism.  It is not about how much money you give, people you help, or incense you burn.  Do not misunderstand me; these things are very important, and necessary.  But if you think that that is what being a Catholic is all about, you are gravely mistaken.  Being Catholic is about living Catholic.  Your Faith is not something you do; it is something you ARE.  You do not have Catholic; you ARE Catholic. 

Therefore, Catholicism is not something just for Sundays, any more than my being Tally is just for Sundays.  Catholicism is not something that I have, do, or experience only at this time, or in this place.  It is an inseparable part of me, and is always there.  Every single part of my life, every breath I take and moment I live, should be colored by my Faith.  One should see and do everything in light of Christ and the Church He founded. 

One of the most important places to begin coloring our thoughts with Christ is the media, because our entire world today is media.  The vast majority of what we learn is brought to us by television, music, the internet, and books.  That in itself is not a bad thing.  The media in all its various forms is a useful tool.  However, like all tools, it needs to be used properly; when it isn’t, it can harm us.  So, the media should have the same focus and end that everything else in our lives has: to bring us closer to Christ.  Our media should be as Catholic as we are. 

I can practically hear what you are thinking right now...

“You mean you want us to condemn ourselves to cheesy saint movies and repetitive Christian songs?”
"No more Hunger Games?!?"
"Your blog sucks and I am not listening to you."

No, no; I can assure you, that idea is as nightmarish to me as it is to you.  I merely mean to say that if we see everything through our Faith and truly live Catholicism, we are going to critically analyze what we see, hear, and read in light of our Faith.  We are going to try to find Jesus in what we listen to and view.  Just as a lukewarm Catholic only sees Jesus in Church, it is a less-than-ideal Catholic that only sees Him in the Bible.  If you live Catholic you will be able to find Him in just about anything.  If it isn’t Catholic, you will be able to make it Catholic.

My old youth director used to give his students a challenge: pick a song that is not Christian, was not meant to be Christian, and find within it a Christian message.  By the time we were done with the challenge, even Rod Steward, Roxette, Taylor Swift, and an awful lot of rap had Jesus in it.  There were very few songs that we were not able to find Christ in.

So, I would like to give you the same challenge that my old youth director gave to me.  I challenge you to find Jesus in an unexpected place; a song, a book, a movie.  Do you see just a story, a pastime; do you just hear a beat?  Or do you find Christ in it?  And, are there any ways in which what you hear/see/read contradicts your Faith?  Does it teach a value that goes against Church teaching?  Does it promote anything—explicitly or implicitly—that drags you—however minutely—away from Christ?  Or does it encourage you in holiness, bring you closer to Him?

Rev. John Simmons (1910) wrote a short essay entitles “Grace Before Reading” that spoke of the necessity of reading critically in light of Faith.  Today, we are exposed to more influences than just books.  Media in all its forms plays a big part in our lives.  So does our Catholic Faith.  How are you going to make those two fit? 

….I plan to begin a little series about how I have found Christian/Catholic messages in secular art and media (because, you know, all my plans for this blog totally work out, lol).  If you would like to share how you have seen Christ in the media, feel free to drop me an email, or comment.  I'd be happy to have you write a guest post!

No comments:

Post a Comment