The Rector writes …

“Ascoltami” is the name of a new duet recorded by Andrea Bocelli
with his elder son Matteo. A translation of the title is “listen to me”
and that of course is an injunction shared by teachers and prophets
through the ages. Bocelli is an interesting person: not only is he one of
the greatest of contemporary singers but in later life he has spoken
more openly about his Catholic faith and his personal commitment to
the pro-life cause. Bocelli’s mother had been advised to terminate her
pregnancy as the child would be damaged in some way – she refused
and Andrea was born with limited sight (which became total blindness
after a football accident in his teens), Recognising the preciousness of
his own life and accepting it and his talent as a Divine gift, he does
everything he can to proclaim the dignity of every other life and most
especially the value of those who might appear to be limited in any
way.
The current hit “Ascoltami” (which aficionados will have seen
performed live on last week’s edition of Strictly Come Dancing!)
shows a touching intimacy between father and son, where the roles
are almost reversed in the tenderness with which the son behaves
protectively and sensitively towards his sightless father. A recurring
theme which they sing to each other is “fall on me” (perhaps “lean on
me” would have better conveyed the idea in English). At the Last
Supper, Scripture presents us with the picture of Saint John leaning
against Jesus (John 13:23) and in a strange sort of way I think Andrea
Bocelli is taking us back to that image and offering it to the world of
our own days which is so fractious and loveless.
The Catechism reminds us that: “though faith is above reason, there
can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the
same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the
light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can
truth ever contradict truth”. It is right that there should be a sound
intellectual base to what we believe – and we should be able to
answer the questions about our own faith which others pose – but at
base, Christianity is not a mental exercise but an acceptance of a
movement of the heart. Again, it is the Disciple who was literally
warmed by the heart of Jesus who could write: “If you refuse to love,
you must remain dead” having already taught that “since love comes
from God everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God” (1 John 4:7)
There is just so much strain and sadness in so many around us today
and the Church often seems to be less than the caring institution it
should be. Rightly, our preaching and teaching is concerned to
proclaim what is good and true, but we do need to find a
compassionate idiom in which to express these truths. Jesus says:
“Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give
you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I and humble in
heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Bocelli’s words sung to
his son, and reciprocated, might appear jejune, even a little
embarrassing, but they are an accurate reflection of the relationship
which Jesus holds out to every one of his brothers and sisters without
exception – “fall on me: lean on me”.
There can be few hearts which have ever loved the Son of Man more
than Teresa of Avila: she climbed the heights and plumbed the depths
of Christian prayer but constantly emphasises the need to remain close
to the humanity of Christ, especially his passion and death which were
the price of our salvation. “The last thing we should do is to withdraw
of set purpose from the greatest help and blessing, which is the most
sacred humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ”. That humanity reaches
out to each one of us, meeting us at the point of our greatest needs
saying so simply, “ascoltami”.

 

Christopher Colven