Awake & Unafraid: Lessons from Saint Lucy and My Chemical Romance

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A few weeks ago, I came across a playlist from my high school years: a mess of emo and screamo and pop punk and alternative from the 90's and early 2000's. I turned up the volume as I drove, instantly feeling sixteen and very cool again. The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance began and, as I listened to the lyrics for the first time in years, Saint Lucy filled my mind and I couldn't stop thinking about her. 

You're probably wondering what an emo album from 2006 and a virgin martyr from the early Christian Church have to do with one another. Though their stories are set nearly two-thousands years and philosophical worlds apart, Saint Lucy and the My Chemical Romance album, The Black Parade, both speak to the power of commitment, perseverance, and a heart on fire for their beliefs.

A few lines come to mind that bind these stories together:

"Do or die you'll never make me / Because the world will never take my heart /
Go and try, you'll never break me" - Welcome to the Black Parade

"I am not afraid to keep on living / I am not afraid to walk this world alone ...
Awake and unafraid" - Famous Last Words

Saint Lucy

If you're unfamiliar with the story of Saint Lucy, I'd recommend this book, or this short biography (available for free online)

Around the year 300, Saint Lucy lived as a young Christian woman who refused marriage to a pagan, instead making a vow of virginity and dedicating herself completely to Christ. While her mother eventually came to accept this decision, her would-be husband was enraged and reported her Christianity to the authorities. She was martyred under the persecution of Diocletian, the last and most severe of the Roman Empire. 

"While Lucy and her mother were grateful to God, the rejected bridegroom was deeply angered and betrayed Lucy's faith to the governor Paschasius. The governor attempted to force her into defilement at a brothel, but the guards who came to take her away were unable to move her, even after hitching her to a team of oxen.

The guards heaped bundles of wood around her but it wouldn't burn so they finally resorted to their swords, and Lucy met her death," (Catholic Online). 

The Black Parade

If you've never listened to this album, I'd really recommend it. Whether or not it's your style of music, odds are if you're an adult in America someone you know has listened to it - maybe even loved it. And if we are called to engage the culture, bringing up a person's favorite band can be a great way to start the conversation. 

Like Mother Teresa saw the face of Jesus in the people she met, we can see the face of Jesus in different forms of artistic expression, regardless of who made it or how (with some exception, of course). If we look, if we listen, we can use elements of popular culture to point others and ourselves to Christ. 

“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world...” - Mother Teresa

Seeing Christ in All Things

Re-read these lines from The Black Parade in light of Saint Lucy's story. She could've written them herself. The intensity of her love for God and her complete dedication to Him is something to be admired and prayed for. 

While My Chemical Romance and Saint Lucy aren't on the same page theologically (we'll save that discussion for another day), both of their stories speak to the profound power of being true to your beliefs and holding firm in the face of persecution, even to death. 

In a world saturated with luke-warm Christians, take note.  Has the world taken your heart? Are you willing to die for what you believe in? Are you afraid to walk alone for Christ? How can we be inspired and motivated by these stories to live with hearts on fire for God?

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