Dear Mr. Crowder,
Thanks to your fine work, I find myself in one of the most incredible moments of my music-loving, Christ-worshipping, Roman Catholic existence — a Requiem Mass is the number 2 album in the world. That’s right – Album, not Christian album. Nestled comfortably between Adele’s 21 and Snow Patrol’s Fallen Empires — as I’m sure you are very aware — is David Crowder Band’s Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in C, [The Happiest of All Keys]).
To the Christian, this is awesome. To the Catholic, well, this is freaking fantastic. You see, to us the Mass is not merely another prayer, though it is a prayer. It is not merely a chance for community worship, though it certainly provides us the opportunity. It is the moment when the veil is torn. It is the wedding feast of Christ to His Bride the Church, as described in the book of Revelation. We believe that by the power of Christ, in accordance with his teaching to “eat my body and drink my blood”(John 6:56), the bread and wine consecrated by the priest become the Body and Blood of Christ. We consume this “real food“, and we are consumed. It is literally Heaven on Earth. As for myself, though I know no words can describe the value of the Mass, I will say this: It is painful. There exists beauty and goodness that strike so close to the heart of what it means to be human that the only response is a sweet sort of hurt.
And for a piece of art based on this Liturgy to be so prominent, so stuck in the eye of the world like a finger-poke of love, well! I can only say thank God, and thank you. Thank you for daring it, and of course — more importantly — for the musical goodness of it.
Though I’m sure you’ve been invited before — and if not, I take this opportunity to apologize for it — I’d like to invite you to enter into full communion with the Holy Catholic Church. You’ve been in my prayers and the prayers of my friends for some time now. We heard when you said that many “of the Catholic traditions and writings have been influential in [your] formation of faith,” and about your love for St. Francis when you granted LifeTeen an interview, and we got pretty pumped.
How incredible that your last album with David Crowder Band is a Requiem Mass! If you’ll excuse a detour, might I mention that the idea of a requiem, a Mass for the dead, is a Catholic one? When a friend dies, we are not confined to helplessness, hopelessness and grief. We — the living — can pray for the dead. We can act, for there exists a state of being called Purgatory, a state necessary because nothing imperfect can stand in the sight of God, who is perfection. Even if we’ve only committed some small sin before our death, since sin is defined as the absence of God, we would not be able to enter Heaven. Basic math, really: The absence of God cannot be brought into communion with God. Catholics believe that in Purgatory a soul is purged — by the saving action of Christ — of sins and sinful desires. The existence of Purgatory is proven by Christ’s words: “Anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next.” Jesus proclaims the possibility of the forgiveness of sins after death. Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. Thus Christ must be speaking of another state of being, a state we call Purgatory. What a merciful God we have!
So when your album started with a man walking into a Church, and the voice of a priest saying “Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them…” (in Latin!) I fairly well freaked out. That prayer is not merely a memory of the dead, it is a prayer for the dead, that they might be granted to enter into Heaven.
And the rest of the album lived up to this start. But I don’t write to you today simply to commend you and the band on a fantastic finish. You’ll get all that from anyone who listens to Give Us Rest. I want to invite you to become Catholic. You don’t know me from Adam, and though I wish it were otherwise, I realize that I don’t know you. But if you will permit me just a little more of your time, I’d like to ask you: What if?
What if there is meant to be but one Church, one true religion, and the current state of Christendom is but a pale shadow of what Christ begged for in the Garden of Gethsemane, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21)? What if the Catholic Church is that very oneness?
This is what I and the majority of Christians hold as truth: Christianity is not doomed to become ever more vague, slowly sinking into more and more denominations, inevitably sliding into a washed-out non-denominationalism. Rather she is called to become ever more definite, and ever more one. Christians are called to seek and know one truth, not by mere personal decision, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. We Catholics believe that this power was given to the Universal Church, to the apostle Peter, the first Pope, when Christ gave him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven and told him, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). This is why we have confidence in our doctrines and in dogmas — it is confidence in the promise of Christ, that he meant what he said: What the Church binds is bound.
We believe that this is the same power that grants men — sinful men! – the power to forgive sins. As Christ says to his apostles, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:23). We see this power manifest in our priests, spiritual descendants of the apostles. We believe that Christ’s command at the Last Supper, to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19) is not a forgotten command, but a command that the Church, in her sacrifice of bread and wine, continues to obey. We believe that Christianity is unfathomable in its depth, for Christ is infinite in all respects, and should thus be honored by 2000 years of learning, wisdom and teaching, and that what G.K. Chesterton says is true, that “the Catholic Church is like a thick steak, a glass of red wine, and a good cigar”: She is the Church that best plunges those infinite depths, and offers meat to a world weary of milk.
What if, Mr. Crowder? I challenge you to explore the question, though judging from your latest album, you already are. I won’t lie to you — you’ll catch a lot of flack for a thing as radical as the consideration of the Catholic faith, but it’s a small price to pay in exchange for a brush with the sacramental life. I hope one day to be in Holy Communion with you, in the sacrifice of the holy Mass, be it a Requiem or otherwise. I apologize for writing this in a public fashion, but as I’m sure you are bombarded with fan mail, I have hope that this may actually reach you. Similarly, I understand that what truly has any effect on the human heart in matters such these is not simply logic or reason, but relationship — something this inherently lacks. See at as an invitation from a stranger then, nothing more and nothing less. An invitation to think about it. If nothing else, it may inspire a few of my friends to purchase your finest album to date, and allow me to thank you for everything you have done for the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and — whether by intention or not — for his Holy Church.
Marc Barnes, student and dishwasher at Franciscan University.