I was listening to Christian radio the other day and heard a quite catchy and beautiful song. Once I started really listening to the lyrics, I had both a raised eyebrow and a convicted heart. The song, “Real Love,” by Blanca, admittedly digs into some of the most common questions about our Catholic faith. Now, I’m not saying that Blanca had any intentions to specifically target Catholicism, but her song certainly gives us a good opportunity to examine what our Catholic faith is REALLY all about, why we do what we do, and essentially, what it is that we believe as Catholics.
Though I have a lot of thoughts and responses to various parts of the song, I’d like to focus on the chorus for the sake of this blog.
“I don’t need no stained glass to be washed in His blood”
I’m not sure that anyone involved in any faith community that worships in a building with stained glass windows would say that they are necessary for salvation. But why do we have them? There are a lot of things that we use to remind us of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness that aren’t necessary, but are helpful to us as human beings. I often tell people this when speaking about the sacraments. God doesn’t “need” the sacraments to share His love with us. He can do that however He wants. But He chooses to give them to us in a tangible, concrete way. Why? Because He created us. He knows us and He knows how we operate. He knows that we as humans experience everything in life best through our senses.
So if beautiful stained glass depictions of Christ and his disciples, the angels and saints–or any Christian art, for that matter–happen to help someone realize that God is real, beautiful, and good, then why not? If we believe that God is our Father and the Creator of all things good and beautiful, then our place of worship should be sacred and reflective of our God’s beauty.
“I don’t need no perfect, put together pretty words to be enough”
I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t get anything out of the Catholic Mass. They say it’s because it’s just a bunch of people reciting the same memorized prayers every week. The words don’t seem to have meaning. True, it may be a fault for some Catholics who become so accustomed to saying the prayers that they don’t even think about the words. I know it is a constant challenge for me in my prayer, when I am in Mass, praying the rosary, etc., to not let the repetition get the best of me. I have to really focus on the words and their meaning.
However, there have been countless times when I have been unexplainably grateful for the perfect, put together, pretty words. They have helped in times of prayer when I was so desolate, angry, sad, lonely, or even joyful, that I couldn’t find the right words on my own. Those words have brought me endless amounts of comfort. Those words were inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore, are a gift from God, so why not use them?
Also, one of the most beautiful things about the uniform prayers of the Mass is that you can walk into any Mass, in any part of the world, and know what is happening whether you understand the language or not!
“I want Jesus and His real love something I crave deep inside of my bones”
Oh, don’t we all, Blanca. Don’t we all? I’m so glad you brought this up! Really! We have such a gift in the Catholic church that is so often overlooked. It is taken for granted, and misunderstood, even by Catholics! In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus gives us His own flesh and blood. We actually get to touch, taste, and even smell the real body and blood of Christ.
To me, it doesn’t get any more real than that. And how do I know it’s real? Trust me, it takes a lot of faith. I know it sounds crazy. But I also know that the bread of life discourse in John 6 was not a joke, nor was it just a figure of speech or a metaphor. Is it hard to believe? Yes. We see in scripture that even Jesus’ disciples struggled with it, and many left Jesus because of it. But I am pretty positive that Jesus meant what he said.
“So you can leave your religion at home”
I really can’t. To me, faith and religion are not opposed. They go hand in hand. Why? Because I can’t do it on my own. Yes, God is real and He is with us, and yes, Jesus died for our sins–but I need my religion to remind me of that. I need the stained glass windows to remind me how beautiful God’s love is. I need the perfect, put together, pretty words to remind me that millions of others across the world are saying the same prayer to the same God, and that I’m not alone in this. And I need the Eucharist to remind me of what Christ did for me and how real God is. That, to me, is real love.
Blanca, keep sharing your love for Christ and His real love with the world. Your music is beautiful, and so are you.