{    Cnytr   }

{Saturday, August 07, 2004  }

A Catholic look at the Beatles

Yes, I confess. I'm biased. Just walk into my room and you'll already have passed a huge Beatles poster, a vintage Beatles button, and a hand-drawn picture of Ringo Starr, my favorite Beatle when I was 14 (Paul's my favorite now). Yes I know their birthdays and their deathdays, I have an inflatable electric guitar and a Beatle wig and all the movies and CDs and books except for "Magical Mystery Tour" and a few of the nontraditional CDs. I can sing "She Loves You" ("Sie Lieb Dich") and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" in German ("Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand").

I'm a Beatle girl. I love them, yeah yeah yeah yeah.

In my, ahem, "maturity", I find other reasons to like the Beatles. As I was listening to my "1" CD (a CD I'm not entirely fond of because of it's nontraditionality), I remembered reading an article on Catholic Exchange a few years ago about the Catholicity of the Beatles. At the time, this seemed to me wishful thinking. As I remember it, it still seems to push the issue a bit. But, if one divorces the art from the author for a moment, I believe it is possible to come up with a perfectly legitimate Catholic argument for "Let it Be".

And as my dear friend JohnE was once wont to say, "unless images have meaning apart from some arbitrary signification created ex nihilo by the thinkers of the past, all the world’s “philosophers and schoolmen were mad together”, and the life’s work of all scholars is “no more than the comparison of different scribblings in the cells of a lunatic asylum.” (Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion, 118)." (I wonder if Lennon/McCartney qualify as "thinkers of the past"...)

When I find myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom: let it be

The image of the blessed virgin Mary is obvious here, but I think something people may sometimes over look is the recurring phrase, the title, coupled with that image: let it be; or, as we say in Latin, "fiat". "Let it be (done unto me according to your will)", certainly one can say these words from Mary, sedes sapientiae, are wise words, "words of wisdom", or shall I say Wisdom.

Who cares whether or not McCartney/Lennon intended it, it's cool, isn't it? [G] I'm not advocating that they actually believed or knew what they wrote; sometimes art goes beyond the artist. In fact, I'm sure a truly great work of art does. I don't think Homer and Virgil could have had any idea of the impact of their works on modern civilization. (Note: I am not advocating that Paul Is Dead.)

*Ahem* I shall continue ...

From the aforementioned point of view, with "let it be" as the Fiat of Mary, the whole song becomes an example of Marian devotion. In our hour of darkness (in hora mortis nostrae), in our broken hearts, we acquiesce to the will of God and imitate Mary in her humble example, let it be, and do not fear.

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be

Now, my inclination here is to get weird and delve into the Marian and New Jerusalem images in Revelation for the cloudy night, the light that shines until tomorrow, and the recurring "let it be". But I won't.

It is true that Paul's mother's name was Mary. It is also true that she was Catholic. Furthermore, it is true that the McCartneys are Irish and Catholicism still runs strong in Irish blood (I believe a good deal of Paul's relatives are Catholic, and I know that some of John's were). In fact many residents of Liverpool were Irish Catholic immagrants, and John, Paul, George, and Ringo would have grown up around, if not steeped in, Catholicism. Now, by their actions later on in life I would say that it didn't reaaaaally take, or not overtly. I still think a strictly Catholic or Christian message can be found -- again, regardless of their intent -- in some of their songs. I think that one can take and run with The Word. How could it not be construed to apply to the Logos, the Word made flesh? Yesyesyes, it may be a kind of touchy-feely interpretation ("it's so fine, it's sunshine"?) but still... shutup. You're ruining my brilliance.

The beloved becoming like the lover ... we'll MAKE Beatles songs Christian!
posted by Lauren, 11:03 PM


hey, according to wikipedia, the mary in the song was one of the beatles' mother. just thought I'd mention it, for what it's worth. God bless you.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:23 PM  
I agree with you. I also have seen the Catholic tone in "let it be" I first noticed this when I was a young Baptist and Marian things were taboo in my family. Let it be, had a role in my Marian devotion and maybe a small role in the fact that I am today a devout Catholic.
I don't think those outside of the Catholic world really understand just how major the words "let it be" are in there connection to Mary. If you were to ask any knowledgeable Catholic, Knowledgeable being the key word, what were the words of Mary in the gospel I believe 99% would say "Fiat" Let it be. I don't know how it was in England in the 50s but in America during the 70s I don't ever recall anyone referring to their mother by a title and then a proper name. I certainly never called my own mother, Mother Joan. Whether it was intended or not, Let It Be will also be connected to Catholicism and Mary our most holy Mother. Blessed be God forever, may Paul return to the roots of his faith.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:12 AM  
Just found this site and thought you might like to read my take on it, for it "dovetails" with yours.


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