I really really really can’t get that song out of my head

I Really Like YouCanadian treasure Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest single, I Really Like You is my current jam. I say this without hesitation because frankly, I had no choice in the matter. (This is not an approval on behalf of myself, the Paulist Fathers, or the Catholic Church on lyrical content etc…) I simply heard the chorus on the radio, and I was done for: I really really really really [there are additional “reallys”] like you…

“OK,” I thought, “That’s it. 30-year-old seminarian or nay, it’s too late for me now. I cannot un-hear this.” I’m sorry that I am unable to provide a link to the song for you, but you see, not providing one is the least I can do in Christian charity.

I raise this catchy number because I am trying this Lent to look at some of the things I believe and live that perhaps I take for granted. Does one purposefully choose this Catholic faith because of it’s meaning, transcendence and truth? Or is Catholicism just like a YouTube video we “like” and follow after someone (eg. parents, friends) shared it with us?

Is Jesus himself – his words, deeds, and story – like a catchy song that went viral?

It seems too much to accept. I have had heavy spiritual-emotional “moments” listening to favourite songs with deep lyrics and moving, rich melodies. I have not been so moved by a catchy summer jam. I would not say that I have had a meaningful encounter with them. That hit songs come and go with the summer months perhaps indicates their transient character.

This is not so much the case with Jesus and the Church he brings with him. Jesus has a way of getting in one’s head, and an even more mysterious way of getting into one’s heart. From here Jesus is less easily displaced – much more like a favourite rich, textural, meaningful song. I might hum along to I Really Like You (to the annoyance of all around me), but I will probably not make a decision, or have an epiphany, or feel God’s intimate presence with me as I listen. I will not transcend my immediate reality. Others might, and that’s cool, of course. (Not that you sought my approval.)

But don’t get me wrong: a fun tune is more than OK in my book. Actually, it’s one way to carry on and enjoy life. In that sense, perhaps a catchy song has no less potential for being considered transcendent or meaningful…maybe even sacred.

Am I contradicting myself? I hope not. But then again, I really really really can’t think properly until I get this song out of my head.

 

Stuart Wilson-Smith, CSP

Fr. Stuart Wilson-Smith, CSP, is a Paulist priest. Raised in New Brunswick, Canada, Fr. Stu is now enjoying his first assignment ministering to the students of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. When he is not celebrating the Sacraments or wandering the campus, Fr. Stu loves to write, make music, and fish.