Lady Gaga, Mary Magdalene and Seeking God

lady_gaga-FFIs popular singer Lady Gaga a good Catholic? Are any of us? Ultimately, that’s for Someone Else to decide, but the question came to the fore this week, via social media.

Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga was educated at Convent of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls private Catholic school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. As Lady Gaga, she has carved out a niche in music with her voice, outrageous fashion sense and out-of-the-box live performances.

In recent years, she made appearances, such as on the Oscars, where she toned down the look and showed off her truly stupendous vocal talents … such as this 2015 tribute to Julie Andrews.

She’s also done duets with Tony Bennett …

At the 2016 Oscars, her performance was dedicated to victims of sexual abuse — which includes Gaga herself.

Earlier this week, she posted this on her Instagram account:

Lady-Gaga-Priest

 

She wrote this:

Thank you Father Duffell for a beautiful homily as always and lunch at my pop’s restaurant.

I was so moved today when you said, “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but the food that God gives us.” — Father Duffell, Blessed Sacrament Church.

Nourishment.

CatholicLink posted a response to this, addressing the more general question of celebrities that talk about their faith. Gaga saw the piece, excerpted part of it and responded, again via Instagram.

Lady-Gaga-to-Catholic-Link

If it’s hard to read, this is her response:

ladygaga

Dear, Becky Roach
Mary Magdalene washed the feet of Christ and was protected and loved by him. A prostitute. Someone society shames as if she and her body are a man’s trash can. He loved her and did not judge. He let her cry over him and dry his feet with the hair of a harlot. We are not just “celebrities” we are humans and sinners, children, and our lives are not void of values because we struggle. We are as equally forgiven as our neighbor. God is never a trend no matter who the believer.

Obviously, Gaga is misinformed about Mary Magdalene, who is not the same person as the woman who dried Christ’s feet with her hair (it’s a common misconception, even among Catholics).

Said USCatholic.org:

But the first witness to the Resurrection—as all four gospel writers agree—was a woman whose name and reputation have become so misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misconstrued over the centuries that she is more commonly, though erroneously, remembered as a prostitute than as the faithful first bearer of the Good News.

That woman is Mary of Magdala and, finally, her centuries-old case of mistaken identity is being rectified.

Now that scripture scholars have debunked the myth that she and the infamous repentant sinner who wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears are one and the same woman, word is trickling down that Mary Magdalene’s penitent prostitute label was a misnomer. Instead, her true biblical portrait is being resurrected, and this “apostle to the apostles” is finally taking her rightful place in history as a beloved disciple of Jesus and a prominent early church leader.

But, considering Gaga’s history as an abuse victim, it’s easy to see how she resonated with the erroneous view of Mary Magdalene as a woman whom many would have disapproved of, but who became beloved of Christ. And her declaration that “God is never a trend” is a bold and accurate one.

CatholicLink saw the response and offered one of its own, again via Instagram:

Catholic-Link-to-Gaga

 

And here it is:

catholiclink_en

Dear @ladygaga, your screen shot was a one part of the article which was not aimed at judging you, rather it was an effort to help Catholics to have a balanced and positive view of when celebrities publicly share their faith. It was an invitation to value the hunger of God that exists in the world of the famous. It was a reminder to not forget that they, like us, are fragile, and that we should not judge, rather pray for them. This said, what you wrote is absolutely beautiful. It is one of the most touching comments we have ever read. Know that we will be praying that experience of God’s mercy continue to grow and bear fruits for you, for the people that you love, and all of your followers.

On May 11, Gaga posted this prayer from Mexican New Age author Don Miguel Ruiz:

Gaga-Prayer

So, what are we to make of this whole exchange? It’s much the same thing as the CatholicLink author pointed out — that celebrities don’t, by virtue of their fame, have special knowledge of God or special abilities to deal with their own issues over and above those of any other person. In some cases, it’s harder for them, since much of what they do is under the unblinking lens of public scrutiny.

In a way, though, it’s enlightening to know that fame and great fortune don’t insulate a person from pain and suffering, so certainly those folks who don’t have these things know that they’re not the answer. Of course, God is ultimately the answer, and sometimes He’s harder to reach if you’re higher in the esteem of the world.

But what celebrities do have is a platform and the opportunity to get a message out to thousands or millions of people — for good and ill. What Lady Gaga has done is open a window into her private struggles with body image, faith and other things, perhaps sparking conversations (like the one with CatholicLink) and a reexamination of conscience on both sides.

In Catholicism, our true celebrities and heroes are popes and saints and holy people, not famous singers and athletes. But these are people we all know and hear about, so when they take the personal risk to speak kindly of faith in a generally unwelcoming public arena, it’s appreciated.

And know that, each Friday, here at Family Theater Productions, we hold a Holy Hour for Hollywood, with prayer, reflection, Adoration and Benediction, including a special invocation for all the good work done in this town and for the conversion of the souls that labor within it.

This Friday, I’ll add Lady Gaga’s name for special consideration.

Images: Wikimedia Commons; Instagram screenshots

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.