Singing, as Augustine is believed to have said, is praying twice. Sometimes I find this hard to believe when I listen to much of the music that is played on the radio lately. My friends know that I am an avid music listener. I listen to all forms and types of music. Some of my favorite artists include: Nat King Cole, Garth Brooks, Mahalia Jackson, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, Nneka, Def Leppard, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Adele… and the list goes on and on.
It is sad that music that is on the radio these days, with the exception of people like Adele, is shallow, and often, promotes decrepit notions of what love really is, what relationships really are about. I cringe when I hear songs like “The Trouble With Love” by Kelly Clarkson, or Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” because these songs, and others like them, equate love to feelings and emotion. Worse yet, they make love out to be something that has nothing to do with one’s will but rather one’s carnal or desires. Pop culture says that love is something that imposes itself upon a person, as if love is an incurable disease.
And then, I heard about a group called Mumford & Sons. If you have not heard of them, I now introduce you to a phenomenal band. Their music sounds to me like an admixture of folk, rock, Gaelic, Appalachian, and a few other unique-to-them-only symphony. Even greater is the content found within the lyrics. Here is just one excerpt from their song “Sigh No More”:
“Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.” (Sigh No More, 2010)
This short phrase could, and should, take the listener hours to unpack. As Catholic we know that love is not an emotion or an act of one’s desires. Instead, we know that love is an act of the will, a free choice; to sacrifice oneself for the sake of another. This is the true nature, and the profound depth of the meaning of love. We are made in the Divine Image of God; the Author of Love. This is so, and as such, love does not destroy, it builds up. The more we love, the more we become like the Author of Love, “the man you were made to be.” There is freedom in love. We are reminded that freedom is not license to do as we please, but it is to do good without restraint.
|“Freedom is not the liberty to do anything whatsoever. It is the freedom to do good, and in this alone happiness is to be found. The good is thus the goal of freedom.”|
(CDF, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation)
Love provides such freedom. When we choose, as individuated persons, and as whole communities, to give of ourselves for the good of ourselves and the common good, we open greater freedom to the world. It frees us from selfishness, materialism, individualism, narcissism, hatred, anger, oppression, violence, and the likes.
More on love later, for now, seek out artists like Mumford & Sons who speak the truth about Love!