Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Popes and 'Liturgical Entertainment'
The scene is set. He calls to him Augustine, a Benedictine monk who would later become St Augustine of Canterbury, to be the 'Apostle to the English' with some of his brothers.
He orders them to take the Gospel to the English, to be bold and to enlighten the hearts of a nation still in the dark grip of barbarism, pagan practises and an inordinate love for both football and celebrity, while producing only a saddeningly mediocre calibre of both.
How does he do this? Well, by Divine Providence it just so happened that it was in that year that a Benedictine monk called Brother Kendrick had released a song called 'Shine, Jesus, Shine'. It was a hit around the sudden flowering of monasteries all over Europe. So close to the Almighty and Eternal, Holy Trinity, did it bring ailing souls, that very soon, the nascent re-introduction of the practise of Chant was discarded by the saintly Pope in favour of four chords and group of men with perma-grins. With a stunning chord sequence ripped off from Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline', a not entirely dissimilar title and eerily striking chorus in terms of nauseating, sentimental pap, 'Shine, Jesus, Shine' was the song chosen by Pope St Gregory I the Great to convert the British Isles.
It is Holy Tradition that St Augustine arrived in these shores and wrote to Pope St Gregory I the Great that the English were a crazed, bloody-minded bunch of oafs. 'Ah', the Great Pope replied, 'They are not Angles, but Angels...Remember to bow your head every time you mention in Brother Kendrick's song, the Most Holy and Ineffably Sweet Name of Jesus!'
It was around this time that the band of men, by now re-named 'Augustine and the Anglers', the drummer of whom was by now battling alcohol addiction and experimenting with class-A drugs, offered generously, as they were, by Brits to all new musical sensations, penned 'Angels', a song more recently associated with Robbie Williams, whose cover of the Augustinian hit won him both acclaim and admiration in equal measure, dedicating it to the people of England.
Yes, we English put up some resistance to the Gospel at first, but the Glory of God, God's Beauty, evoked as it was, through this simple band of men singing Brother Kendrick's masterpiece, surmounted the 'Stone-walls' of even the coldest of English hearts and warmed them in the furnace of His fiery love, under the banner of the Cross, that Sign of Contradiction, the Sign that conquered this land once steeped in darkness and brought it into the radiance of God's Eternal light.
How fitting it is, then, that when the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, now gloriously reigning, who has made the 'hermeneutic of continuity' in Liturgy and Divine Worship, devout remembrance of the Real Presence of Christ and reverence for Him in that same Blessed Sacrament, central to his pontificate, that when our beloved Pontiff arrives here, here, in England, and walks on this ground, this ground made holy by the footsteps of the Saints down the ages, this land, Our Lady's Dowry, that we will have to endure, I mean, that we will be able to remember, with reverent and holy joy, the music that accompanied St Augstine of Canterbury and his band of holy Brothers here and won its heart and soul to God, the Most High!
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