A Different Take on Singing Italian Sister Cristina Sciuccia

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By now everyone has seen the Italian Ursuline Sister, Cristina Sciuccia, on the Italian show equivalent of “The Voice.” Go here if you need a refresher. Everyone seems to have voiced his or her opinion in a combox or bloggers in their own blog. I’m fine with most of them but I haven’t heard anyone yet project an opinion close to mine which is: Why all the fuss? This sort of thing is already happening. Let me explain.

There are those of the opinion that this is not the job of a nun. Some think she should work on her vocation instead of singing on a stage. Some were deeply moved by her performance, citing the clear movement in the heart of one Ajax (isn’t that a soap?) on the show itself.

I wonder what the objectors to this nun’s performance think priests and those of consecrated/cloistered orders do with their time? Can a priest or a nun not have a hobby or be good at something other than prayer, and use that to inspire others?

For Example, Trappist monks have been crafting and selling beer said to be some of the world’s finest, and nobody seems to want to take up an argument about that. These beers go for some $80/bottle. Is that their vocation? No, but it does have a place in their Christian life. Let me put it like this:

By working through the process and the recipe, finding the best possible taste, consistency, foam content, color, fragrance, they are participating in the process of perfection that God gave us as creations in His image. The very fact that we recognize levels of perfection is a meaningful lesson in the (Latin, quinqae viae) of St. Thomas Aquinas as proof of God’s existence, and our participation in seeking those perfections in creative processes is a direct reflection of our God. Their perfection brings God glory and since mans nature is attracted to perfection, their creativity can be a witness.

In the 17th century, a group of Carmelite nuns were doing the same thing: making beer to sell. Many convents do the same thing today. Selling wreaths, honeys, jams, sandwiches, all to support themselves and bring joy to others.

There are several other traveling Catholic singers, some of whom are in Holy Orders. The popular traveling threesome of singing priests aptly titled, The Priests, have been touring the world since the 1970s. They have also been allowed a most unusual honor of recording at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. They aren’t singing pop music but they have a huge following and inspire others in their artistic talent.

Are these three examples hobbies or vocations? My priest owns a gun. On his days off, he goes to the range. That’s his thing. He’s not joining the Army though.

Let me come at this from another angle.

The objection is also, that she is too much like the world; that Christians are called to be different from the world; that her singing on a stage, a secular one, is a sign that she is trying to be so much like the world.

First, since when is singing on stage secular? I highly doubt she is trying to become a pop star. More on that below.

Then, what about the age old Pagan influence accusations on the Church? Don’t people tell us that we are sun worshipers because our Christmas season is during the same time as the Pagan celebration of Sol Invictus? Or that we hang wreaths on our door to keep the god Saturnalia on our sides throughout the rough winter season – too much “like the world”? Yet, around A.D. 190-220 that Christians hang more wreaths and laurels than the pagans, and says, “You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green” in his defense against idolatry and worldly practices. He wasn’t condemning the décor – he was pointing out the intention behind the uses of such things compared to the pagans.

St. Patrick took a secular symbol (the three leafed shamrock) and used it to assist and illustrate his teaching on the Holy Trinity. They weren’t mixing the Kool-Aid – they were meeting pagans are their doorstep and showing them the real meanings of the things they were using.

The world and its ways can be tools for evangelists to inspire and teach, but that doesn’t mean we become like the world. I think it highly unlikely that Sister Cristina Sciuccia is using this as a platform to run away and become a pop star. Does anyone really think her convent would support her and cheer with joy behind the stage curtain as they watch her perform if they knew she was trying to have a different career?

I think people are really over-reacting to this in general. There are numerous examples of priests and nuns working in creative ways to preach the gospel. Several of our saints weren’t even granted their missionary endeavors, or permission to start their orders, upon multiple requests and we can’t let this nun have a hobby and if good enough, enter into a competition? This whole thing speaks more about the spiritual climate in Italy versus America if you ask me. Would this sort of act been possible in America? What would the reaction have been?

Either way, it’s too early to judge her actions, and really, it’s none of our business. I’m certainly not qualified to be her spiritual director – her Ursuline convent mother is. Let’s leave that sort of thing up to her convent and her local episcopate.

Shaun McAfee

Shaun McAfee

Shaun McAfee is a veteran of the Air Force and current civilian in the Army Corps of Engineers as a Contract Specialist. He blogs at ShaunMcAfee.com. Currently he is pursuing a Masters in Dogmatic Theology with Holy Apostles College and Seminary where he also serves as the Social Media Director. He also works for Patrick Madrid's Envoy Institute as the Social Media Administrator. A convert to Catholicism, he loves learning, explaining, sharing, and defending the faith. He is married and has two boys named Gabriel and Tristan. They live in Omaha, NE.

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13 thoughts on “A Different Take on Singing Italian Sister Cristina Sciuccia”

  1. Avatar

    Thanks Shaun for the post! I like the fact that Sr Cristina quoted Pope Francis giving reason for her coming on the Voice “… to go out and to evangelize.” What I do wish to encourage those following following her subsequent appearances to do, is to pray for her, that The Lord may use her gift as an opportunity to remind viewers that yes, “God wants to give us more”, the more being everything through Jesus. She needs our prayers that she may hold first to her consecration and innocence (which is why the crowd went over the top in the first place), and not be tempted to get caught up in the secular concept of ‘winning at all costs’. There is a bigger ‘gift’ she has to offer than her voice and charisma; she has the opportunity to bring Jesus to a thirsting world. This opportunity is worth stepping out on that stage.

  2. Avatar

    Amen, Shawn. The old Catholic saying “singing is praying twice” sure fits this situation. Dozens of Benedictine monasteries and convents around the world have recorded some of the most beautiful Gregorian Chants you could imagine and the CDs are sold in the worldwide market. Also the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Michigan, made a CD late last year that hit the best-seller charts for months. How do people think the monks and nuns support themselves? There are only 3 real sources of income for most of them since they have no direct support from the Church except in very rare cases: Gifts/donations, rent from retreat centers many of them run, and income from a vocational occupation or from such things as a resident gift shop selling holy materials or the produce they craft. I hope the good sister sings her heart out for the glory of the Lord for years to come! Dei voluntas fiat!

  3. Avatar

    We are called to be in the world not of the world. Although I commend her for her singing talents, what did she really accomplish?

    No conversions, no thinking of converting, nor anything close to this.

    The closest we get is a “nice to see a nun sing” feeling.

    My other point is, whey is she singing pop music? Yes, the lyrics were “not bad”, but is this our new barometer?

    Plus the pop music genre isn’t exactly good for you. Yes, this is my personal opinion, but if it isn’t sacred or classical music, meaning orchestral music, then it isn’t good for the soul at all.

    Open the floodgates! 😉

    1. Avatar

      Lighten up Tito! Jesus went to parties, and was criticized for levity by religious people. I love the grounded wholeness of the Catholic faith, which affirms all good sides of our humanity.

      Didn’t St Francis adopt the pop music of his day, and begin a wonderful new trend in sacred troubadour singing?

    2. Avatar
      Sr. Theresa Noble

      How do we know for sure there were no conversions and no thinking of converting Tito? 🙂 JPII asked us to seek “new methods” of evangelization. I think this is a pretty creative way to follow Pope Francis’ invitation to go out to the people. As a fellow young nun, I applaud her courage and catching enthusiasm!

  4. Pingback: A favor y en contra de Sor Cristina | Vida inteligente

  5. Avatar

    Available on iTunes, Amazon and other store his debut song “Senza la tua voce” (Without your voice). With only 0.99 cents you can download the song and you can help us to promote and spread the christian music. Thanks

  6. Avatar

    She was out of place in that context and it showed. I found it embarrassing to watch. I think she is a genuine person who has a good voice that could be put to much better use than singing Madonna ditties and prancing around on stage. The world just loves it when religious get down and boogie with them. She was a novelty that’s all and the damage to her vocation is probably not evident yet. And one wonders if she wants to be a performer perhaps she is in the wrong vocation.

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