S+L logo

Spread the Good News, even at 100 decibels

February 8, 2013
Young people watch rock concert sponsored by Pontifical Council for Culture
Catholic New Service reported yesterday on the opening of the Pontifical Council for Culture's plenary meeting. Here is that  report.
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture said he wanted to listen to what today's young people had to say, he wasn't afraid to hear it belted out at 100 decibels.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi invited members of the Italian rock group, The Sun, to speak their minds through music to the cardinals, bishops, lay members and advisers of the council, as well as to a large contingent of foot-stomping, cheering young fans.
The band's 30-year-old lead lyricist and singer, Francesco Lorenzi, confessed that despite being used to playing stadiums with tens of thousands in the audience, knowing "we'd be playing for cardinals, bishops, ambassadors and journalists, we didn't get any sleep last night."
It was the first time a Vatican dicastery had a rock group as the "opening act" of its plenary assembly -- usually a routine, speech-filled, sit-down affair where members come together a few days days to discuss a relevant theme.
But if the culture council was going to discuss "Emerging Youth Cultures" for their plenary at the Vatican Feb. 6-9, then what better way to get a feel for the subject than by inviting young people in, the cardinal said.
"We adults, older generations, and we priests have to make an effort to not put (young people) under a sort of microscope, but go to their level and begin to listen a little to what the rhythm of their mind, their heart is like," Cardinal Ravasi told Vatican Radio.
The Sun's rhythm, created by two guitarists, a bass player and drummer, shook the walls of Rome's LUMSA University Feb. 6 as the group delivered songs about their Catholic faith such as "Onda Perfetta" ("Perfect Wave") that says: "I have a whole world full of hopes and dreams, they're illusions only if you don't believe."
While Vatican VIPs weren't dancing in the aisles, many read through the lyrics and applauded with smiles.
In between songs, Lorenzi explained the band's evolution from its birth in 1997 as Sun Eats Hours, which is an Italian saying equivalent to "time is fleeting, so get as much out of life as possible," to being voted the "best Italian punk band in the world" in 2004.
They lived up their name, he said, traveling the globe, opening for world-famous acts like The Cure and Ok Go and experiencing enormous success.
But instead of feeling happy, the band members were angry and barely spoke to one another, Lorenzi said, losing themselves and each other in a nonstop revelry of "alcohol, drugs and women."
Lorenzi started to turn his life around in 2007 when a night out with friends fell through and his mother suggested he instead go to a faith formation course being held that week at the local parish.
"I know you love me," he said he told his mother, "but I want to be happy and I don't go to church to be happy."
But he agreed to just see what it was like, even though he was certain it would be miserable and they'd make him "sing awful songs."
Instead, the warm welcome and genuine joy he saw on people's faces "really struck me."
"I saw a joy I never saw before and at a place I thought was for nerds. But it was the kind of joy I needed more than ever," he said.
Bolstered by a new community, prayer, Mass and eucharistic adoration, Lorenzi's life changed completely, he said. The other band members saw the transformation and slowly -- over a period of five years -- followed suit, wanting to discover the source of Lorenzi's contagious happiness.
The band members had a new mission in life and on stage, Lorenzi said; they cut the band name down to The Sun "because it shines forever" and focused the lyrics on "what matters most in life," like love, friendship, "life after life" and faith in God.
He told Catholic News Service that people don't need to "hit bottom" before they discover the beauty of salvation.
"Jesus will come and get you, trying up until the very end, but that doesn't mean you have to hit bottom, because he'll take you even when you're doing fine," he said.
Telling council members The Sun wanted to help the church bridge the gap with young people, Lorenzi offered a booklet summarizing the results of an informal survey he took with readers of his blog, www.francescolorenzi.it. Over two weeks, some 25,000 people read the post, and hundreds sent responses to his three questions.
Asked "what helps attract young people to the church?" the responses included, "credible and enthusiastic witnesses," but also pilgrimages to the Holy Land, a chance to have a personal spiritual guide and outlets for artistic expression, the booklet said.
"What do you want from the church?" evoked responses like greater trust in laypeople, putting the great questions of life front and center, and clear, sincere honest dialogue where formality and abstract ideas get set aside now and then, it said.
"What keeps the church and young people apart?" elicited replies like not understanding the reasons behind positions the church takes, "ostentatious wealth," a lack of answers to people's questions and poor communication skills.
"The church has lots of beautiful things to say" about things young people care about, "but it needs to find a way to say it" and have that message reach young men and women everywhere, Lorenzi said.
But even the most stirring speech or web post can't answer people's hunger for human contact and understanding, Lorenzi told CNS.
"A great speech without contact is at risk" of going nowhere, he said, while if it's coupled with warm and genuine outreach, "the incredible can happen."
(cns photo/ paul haring) two young people watching Italian Christian Rock band The Sun, at the opening of the General Meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture)

Related posts

Deacon-structing Sacraments | Part 1: A Sign of Grace
I guess you can’t blame Catholics if they don’t know the meaning of a Sacrament. I was a Catholic for 38 years and had received 5 of the 7 Sacraments before I really came to understand what Sacram ...read more
Read Fr. Thomas Rosica's reflection on the Broadway sensation WICKED, and it's themes of evil, redemption, friendship, and power of forgiveness. ...read more
St. Thomas More and the responsibility <br>of Christian citizenship
Read Sebastian Gomes' article on St. Thomas More, who lived in turbulent times and is a model for the Christian citizen of today. ...read more
“To set the world at naught”: <br>Thomas More, John Fisher, and the role of conscience
Read about St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher: two heroic saints who defied a tyrannical king and gave their lives rather than act against their conscience. ...read more
"I am not He, I prepare His way"
John was identified with the people of Israel, and his vocation was ultimately not only the restoration of Israel but also the conversion of the world. John was the sharp-edged sword who pointed out t ...read more
SLHour: The Real Uncle Tom
The name Josiah Henson probably doesn’t mean much to you. This week, author and film maker Jared Brock tells us about the former slave whose life story inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin and possibly igni ...read more
Welcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As part of my job, I come across many interesting Catholic news and stories on a daily basis. Some of them I'll cover on Perspectives Daily and the others I’ ...read more