Saturday, December 01, 2012

"Love Cannot Be Silenced" - Catholic sisters' song and (almost but not quite yet viral) YouTube video get a plug in the New York Times

A song by Sister Kathy Sherman, CSJ, of the Congregation of St. Joseph, LaGrange Park in southwest suburban Cook County, got a boost in an article in Saturday's New York Times. The story, by Times religion correspondent Laurie Goodstein. is pretty glowing.

But, first, the song. It has a nice upbeat, post-Vatican II folk music-y feel to it. Very singable. It could easily be by Marty Haugen or the St. Louis Jesuits.

Here's the YouTube video, with this note appended: "Photos are from prayer services, vigils, peaceful demonstrations, Masses, and other gatherings in support of women religious in the United States in May and June of 2012 in response to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith's assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and various other investigations and criticisms of Sisters in the U.S.

The Congregation of St. Joseph's Ministry of the Arts website at La Grange has Sister Kathy's most recent CD Love Cannot Be Silenced available for $12.95 (plus shipping and handling). She has several other CDs in print.

Laurie Goodstein, the Times' religion reporter, gives this account:

Last spring, when the Vatican issued a harsh assessment of the group representing a majority of American nuns accusing them of “serious doctrinal problems,” Sister Sherman, 60, said she responded the way she always does when she feels something deeply. She wrote a song.

The words popped into her head two days after the Vatican’s condemnation, as she was walking down the hallway in her order’s ministry center, feeling hurt and angry: “Love cannot be silenced,” she thought. “It never has. It never will.” She went into the center’s dining room and tried out the lyrics on some of her sisters. They liked the message.

“Love Cannot be Silenced” became an anthem, not just for the nuns but also for laypeople who turned out for vigils in front of churches and cathedrals across the country this year to support them. In a voice sweet and resolute, Sister Sherman sang, “We are faithful, loving and wise, dancing along side by side, with a Gospel vision to lead us and Holy Fire in our eyes” — a lyric that evokes the nuns’ novel forging of spirit with steel.

The lyrics, which are available with the YouTube video and several other places on the Web, are:
Love cannot be silenced. It never has. It never will. Let justice roll like a river from the oceans to the hills.

Rise up Sisters. Rise up. And stand with you your heads held high. We are faithful, loving, and wise. Dancing along side by side. With a Gospel vision to lead us. And Holy Fire in our eyes.

Sister Kathy has written a number of songs. Earlier this year, "at the height of the political vitriol in the last presidential election," she wrote a song she titled “This Is the America I Believe In.” It's also on YouTube:

Sister Kathy's note on the song:

"This Is the America I Believe In" was written in response to the great divide that presently exists in the political landscape of our country. At times, the contention between candidates is both sad and disheartening.I had been remembering my days of singing protest songs during the 1960s. Music was integral to the work of justice in those years. It was important for artists, dreamers and activists to speak up and out and to remind the country of what we hold dear-the values that gave birth to our wonderful nation. It still is. Reading the signs of the times informs my vocation as a composer and lyricist. Engaging with the world and the pain and suffering that beset it become the fertile soil for dreams and songs to emerge. We are presently enmeshed in the great American political process of choosing the president of the United States. This privilege is, perhaps, one that many of us take for granted. The seriousness of our time calls us to prayerfully discern when choosing leadership in any arena and when making important decisions that impact the common good. Our shared love for America transcends political affiliations. That is the message of "This Is the America I Believe In."
So far the New York Times story has gotten a mention in a Catholic blog in New York City under the headline "The zinging nun: sister writes anthem against Vatican rebuke." The blog, which links to the video without comment, is by Greg Kandra, a Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Brooklyn. A longtime broadcast journalist, he writes a blog called "The Deacon's Bench" on the Patheos website offering "global dialogue on religion and spirituality through responsible, moderated discussions on critical issues across religious traditions' and "commentary on current events from a wide range of viewpoints."

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