22 March 2014

Ursuline Sister Cristina Evangelizes in her own Way

Perhaps you have seen this! It was posted on my Facebook page yesterday. Ordinarily I would be put off by this kind of thing. It can be undignified and seem gimmicky while it also can contribute to destructive stereotypes of nuns and religious life, but in this case I was quite moved by Sister Cristina's genuineness and the effect that had on everyone. (The coaches on the program kept referring to her energy, but it seems to me what they had encountered was simply the truth of abundant life of Christ.)

Sister's voice is really fine (she does indeed have a gift), but what was even more impressive to me was the way she spoke of sharing that gift, of Pope Francis, of God and how natural it is to have decided to participate in the competition this way (see especially how Sr Cristina points out that Francis is always telling us that God takes nothing from us but only gives us more), of evangelizing (the reason she was doing this!), and hoping that perhaps Francis would telephone her to let her know what he thought of her performance. (It is, from all that I have heard, entirely conceivable that he would call her and THAT is astounding! Yes he is a busy and important person with a universal Church to govern, but he is also Francis, the Vicar of Christ who DOES call ordinary folks on the phone; that means that in a single year he has changed what we expect from our religious leaders and the institutional Church! He has changed the face of the Church and challenged us to do so as well.)

Meanwhile, Sr Cristina's Ursuline Sisters and her parents supported her from and celebrated in the wings. (They were in tears in places; their own shared excitement and joy was also infectious.) There was, in my estimation, nothing gimmicky or undignified about this. Bridges were built, unnecessary walls and stereotypes were broken down --- at least temporarily; the yearnings of our world and culture for just such a thing were revealed. Sr Cristina effectively spoke truth, not to power precisely, but to popular culture, and she did so with an intelligence, integrity, and joy we should applaud. For instance, one of the coaches joked that had he met Cristina when he was a child he would have attended Church faithfully (paraphrase) and would be Pope now! Cristina didn't miss a beat and --- serious as a heart beat, replied, "Well, you have met me now." Indeed! "J-Ax" was confronted with a choice to act on this encounter (and the kernel of truth in his own jest) in the present; really, isn't this what evangelization (and especially what we are calling the "New Evangelization") is all about?

Watch the video on full screen and turn on the closed captions; you will be able to read the actual dialogue that takes place between Cristina and the coaches on the show.