Did you know that a dinosaur writes this blog? You can carbon date me by the music I listen to. I’m firmly entrenched in the Perry Como era. He and his colleagues who sang from the Great American Songbook of the early 20th century gave us thousands of ways to say “I love you” without using those exact words every time. Their songs were smart, subtle and memorable for that trait. Como stood out from the rest of his colleagues, however, for occasionally crossing the bridge from romantic love to filial love (the kind Christ taught us to have for each other). How many of Como’s crooning Catholic colleagues (especially Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra) could have gotten away with singing “Let’s go to Church” without inspiring torrents of laughter? Listen:
Let’s go to church, next Sunday morning We’ll see our friends on the way We’ll stand and sing, on Sunday morning And I’ll hold your hand as we pray
Through the week You love an’ laugh an’ labor But on Sunday Don’t forget to love thy neighbor
Como brought the credibility of his marriage to the same woman for 65 years (until her death did they part) to make this song a touching tribute to a pure way of life. Como never preached his religious beliefs, but he lived them throughout his career as he did in his private life. This was in tune with the teaching of St. Francis: Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.
When you go to church next Sunday you’ll hear variations on this theme of letting your light shine in all three readings. Isaiah starts it off (Is 58:7-10):
Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.
In our second reading, Paul tells the Corinthians that this ability to communicate Christ’s teachings non-verbally is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:1-5):
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
Finally, Jesus himself proclaims his gospel of wordless grace via Matthew’s account (Mt 5:13-16):
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
You don’t need to be a fossil of the Como era to fuel such light. Any church bulletin contains all the opportunities you need to select just the right bridge from romantic—or even today’s ever-popular theme of self-love—to the filial variety. These include retreats, Eucharistic ministering, food pantry volunteerism, welcoming properly vetted immigrants to our country, or just joining fellow Brothers in Christ for periodic fellowship and support. Together we can all make some beautiful music to rock the 21st century church’s foundation.
Now listen to Perry sing an invitation: