Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Like a Virgin -- like you've never seen it

When I was young and stupid in 1984, I positively reveled in Madonna's blockbuster hit, Like a Virgin, and my 17-year-old self was blown away by the pop phenomenon's live stage performance during which she writhed around on the floor in a white wedding gown -- a scene still seared in my memory. I never could have imagined that 30 years later I would hear a new incarnation of the song and get chills. And want to cry. And be absolutely transfixed. And be so incredibly grateful to know what this sister knows. 


From my obsession with Madonna in the '80s to my obsession with my Faith today, I just can't believe how far the Lord has taken me. The lyrics, which once seemed to me deliciously scandalous, provocative, titillating, now reflect for me exactly how it is and how it feels to be transformed by Christ. I really don't even have words for the beauty of what Sister Cristina has done here. She gets it. I get it. Together we get it -- no less than the secret of the universe. And my friend Leticia Adams gets it, as one who was redeemed and transformed by the Bridegroom after her "life living in slutsville". Read what she has to say.

I sit here tonight so grateful for the pure gift of grace that is our Catholic Faith. 

Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, Sister, for redeeming my experience of the song, three decades later. 


  1. Very nice. And I completely get your point about the meaning of pop lyrics to the Catholic heart and mind.

    I constantly hear spiritual messages even in secular music, because even secular music cannot completely escape metaphysical-type poetry.

    This is why I can't help but think of the Song of Solomon when I crank songs like Shakira's "Empires". She's not one of my favorite pop artists, but this song captures a lot.

    Her lyrics, her vocal delivery, and the crescendo to the chorus, which is nothing more than an emotional, "And you touch me, and I'm like... and I'm like... and I'm like.... Whoooo hoooo hoooo...", paint a picture very much like the intimacy (even just on a physical level) you see in Song of Solomon. She sings of following her beloved and of being bound to him, of being free when he is truly and totally himself with her, she talks about self-donation (wanting to be his hero), she sings about the unity in the dance of the cosmos (stars making love to the universe). Such a spiritual salute in that song, even if "poppy". The lyrics that surround the chorus are supremely loving, personal, and intimately spiritual so the chorus actually works in that song, because there are times words cannot articulate the power we feel in the embrace of our beloved spouse and of our God.

    Another song I could listen to on repeat forever is Pearl Jam's "Given to fly". (One my all time fave bands- saw them several times live- they killed it each time). The freedom to interpret those lyrics always leads me to an experience of Peter walking on the water. This song could be about surfing for all I know. But there is freedom for the listener to interpret, so when I hear the lyrics with the swell of the music and the emotion of Vedder's vocals burst toward the chorus, it actually sends me mentally into a meditation on the verses in Matt 14:22-32 explaining Peter's walking out of the boat to meet Christ after first being full of fear.
    "A wave came crashing like a fist to the jaw, deliver him wings, "Hey! Look at me now!" Arms wide open with the sea as his floor... Oh, how...oooohhhh"

    I can picture Peter being amazed at the power of walking in his faith for the very first time. Chills. That whole song = Golden. Listen to it. It truly speaks to the spirit of saving love, release from chains, being stabbed by faceless men, suffering, self-giving and eternal love, and the last line: "a human being that was given to fly"... Poetry.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Leila! I went through a Madonna fan phase for a time when I thought she was so, so "subversive." But this is way, way better. I teared up watching it.

    Like Nubby, I often find spiritual messages in secular music. (I actually have a hard time finding spiritual messages in "spiritual" music that is written to resemble secular music...but that's another issue.)

  3. It is so amazing because whoever madonna was singing or thinking about 30yrs ago is someone who is no longer her love that was suppose to last but Sister is singing about Jesus who's Love endures forever. Love this! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Beautiful! I fully expected it to be to the tune of "Like a Virgin" with the words changed. What a pleasant surprise to hear all the same words but in a different context. I seriously got chills! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amen, ladies! And Nubby, I will be listening to those songs today!! Caitlin, me too! I did not know what to expect when I first heard about it, but I didn't really expect the same lyrics. :)

  6. I am not crazy about nuns, friars and in general very religious people in the show business. They usual become famous because they are 'different' and later on, when they get money and success, they often loose their spirituality. Think for example about Father Cionfoli in Italy or the Orthodox Jew Matisyahu in USA.

  7. PEB, I never thought about it from that angle; I am only interested in the redemption of the song, and the idea that most pagan things can be Christianized. I love that. Truth is always lurking, everywhere.

  8. I sat here bawling as I remember the exact moment I found Theology of the Body and the healing power of Christ. The new life He has given me is captured in this performance. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. I am so thrilled to see Suor Cristina making another breakthrough with that beautiful interpretation. Her initial breakthrough came about 6 months ago on an Italian song competition, very secular in nature indeed, with a rendition of Alicia Key's "No one". People just loved it, more than 40 million Youtube views in under 2 weeks. Again, I am not sure how many people "got it" Whom she sang about, but I just thought: What a way to evangelize. See for yourselves: https://www.google.at/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&ei=k3NJVLH2HtHUaqDsgOgN&url=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DA6_0n_3hSl8&ved=0CB0QtwIwAA&usg=AFQjCNEIfqPskiTNxWobHsqK59VguI6kIQ&sig2=V3buGpaJaQDvEbLt4kGuVg

    (Hope it works, this is sent from a tablet I'm not too familiar with). Suor Cristina rocks!!

  10. Works for me: a lovely version by a happy woman of an unlovely song by an unhappy one. Beautiful. Is that St. John Paul II I hear clapping?

  11. I like that God sent us these creative religious to make us connect the dots and question things. What Sister Cristina is doing ever so subtly is reminding us that religion is not separate from modernity. Your faith is right where your heart beats. And that message can be heard in a variety of ways, and in a variety of keys. I agree that this one was pretty brilliant!


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