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Rock Star Danny: A Champion for The Faith

Image: www.irishmirror.ie

Last weekend I had the radio on in the background, tuned in to The Brendan O’Connor Show. He was interviewing the lead singer of The Script, Danny O’Donoghue. The Script are an Irish rock band formed in 2001 in Dublin by O’Donoghue, the late Mark Sheehan, and Glen Power. They have won 3 Meteor Ireland Music Awards, 2 World Music Awards received 2 Brit Award nominations, and sold 20 million albums worldwide.

I had of course heard of them but am too old to be a fan, so was really only mildly interested until I heard Danny say that since the death of his best friend and fellow bandmate, Mark, he has been going to Mass every day. Brendan was clearly rather taken aback by this, which was understandable as we do not tend to associate religious practice with the rock star lifestyle. Danny said, “I set the alarm, get up in the morning, I don’t look at the phone, and go to church to practice gratitude for the life I’ve been able to live so far and offer up prayers… I love it and I go every day. I don’t miss a day.”

He went on to make an interesting point about going to the gym to work out, to the studio to make music, and then asking himself the question about where he would go to get what he needed spiritually.  As humans, we are all physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual beings. It seems that for many people the spiritual dimension is the one that is most neglected. This may be because it relates to the ‘other’, the nature of existence, and the meaning and purpose of life. A lot of us do not want to dwell on this; for others, it is the essence of living since it points us to the divine and transcendent, to God himself.

Fighting for Religious Freedom

Quite a number of Catholics have a casual attitude to the Mass, facilitated greatly by the predominance of secular thinking and the changes in behaviour during Covid. This contrasts greatly with the way in which Catholics in Ireland persevered in their fidelity and love for the Mass despite incredible persecution.

Between the years 1535 and 1714, in this country and England, the attempted extermination of Catholicism as a religion was witnessed. This was to be brought about by the execution of clergy and lay people who would not denounce their faith. Past generations suffered greatly in order to give us the freedom of worship today, a freedom which to a great extent we take for granted in the West, even if many regard it as being irrelevant and outdated.

Those of us who do practice our religion, do not imagine that those who do not would ever attempt to prevent us from testifying to our faith in Jesus Christ by going to Church. However, there are quite a number of places in the world where the reality is very different. There are many small, though long-established Christian communities in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond that suffer persecution.  The spread of terrorism and Islamic extremism is one of the reasons behind this violence.

Courage to Bear Witness 

Today in Ireland, we may not be killed for our faith, but we can be broken down bit by bit. The Mass is known as the “source and summit” of our faith.  It is where we get our strength to live like Christ.  For that reason, the Mass has always been a target of attack. The outspoken atheist Professor Richard Dawkins, famous for his 2006 book The God Delusion, when speaking of the irrationality of religious belief, often invokes Catholic faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  He has gone so far as to publicly encourage atheists and agnostics to mock Catholic beliefs.

I read recently where one left-wing politician said the statue of the Sacred Heart at the taxi rank off O’Connell Street should be removed because it might give offence to Muslims.  I would argue that rather than being concerned about Muslims, this was just another excuse to attack Catholicism. There is an inference here that Islam is more worthy of respect than Christianity and the latter should bow down accordingly.  Anything, it seems is better than Christianity, especially as embodied within the  Catholic Church.

Little does the woman concerned know about religious beliefs and of course, she does not care.  This makes it all the more important why those of us who do should not be afraid to be seen to practice our faith. Danny O’Donoghue has shown us the way, and it is all the more welcome because musical artists like him are powerful role models for young people.

Written by Marie–Therese Cryan

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