Vatican II, Power Ballads, and Pilgrimage

Grab that Zippo lighter ‘cause it’s time to rock! What’s that Stevie “Guitar” Miller? You say you’ve been “ridin’ along in this big ol’ jet plane” and thinking about home?

Jon Bon Jovi claims he doesn’t sleep for days while on the road…

The power ballad, a staple of arena rock, depicts the strenuous life on the road. Relating long, grueling stretches of time spent in hotels, tour buses and airports, these songs present a tired character and demonstrate the common human desire for rest, stability, and union with a loved one. Stevie Miller, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Ozzy…heck even Gym Class Heroes all pick up on a key part of Christian life: life as pilgrimage.

But this pilgrimage is arduous. From the earliest times, Christians have looked forward to their reunion with Christ, the love of their life. This common human pilgrimage on earth wears us down. We face family drama, heartbreak, loneliness – and sometimes even worse. For many in this world, their earthly pilgrimage involves refugee camps, war, and only sporadic access to clean water or basic health care. How we long for an end to this road trip, which can often feel meaninglessness!

Meaning arrives at the end of the trip. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, it is wise to read and savor the positive and beautiful way Lumen Gentium, the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, portrays the One awaiting us after our long tour on earth. First, as we move “forward through trial and tribulation, the Church is strengthened by the power of God’s grace, which was promised to her by the Lord” (§9). We’re not alone in this. Then Lumen Gentium reminds all of us that our church and all creation itself is still progressing towards its fulfillment, a fulfillment when

“…our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ”… will refashion the body of our lowliness, conforming it to the body of His glory, and who will come “to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” (§48)

Ozzy couldn’t have mumbled that better himself. One more reason why Lumen Gentium rocks.

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