Jonas Brothers performing during their 'Look Me in the Eyes Tour.' Wikimedia commons.

Speaking Out: Lessons from the Jonas Brothers

By  Janelle Lafantaisie, Youth Speak News
  • July 10, 2019

I sat down one night and watched the Jonas Brothers documentary entitled Chasing Happiness. I loved every second. My 15-year-old self was thrilled and I was honestly so impressed by how these three young men completely opened up in a way that was new to their audience (i.e. going from Disney Channel to truth-telling drinking games).

What was interesting to me was their faith aspect. I always liked the Jonas Brothers partly because they were Christian men. They weren’t a Christian band, but they knew God. Their father was a pastor and they seemed to have a solid family life. It was a refreshing Hollywood-fangirl experience.

Very quickly into the documentary, I was disappointed to see that this persona was actually distorted. The three brothers originally signed a record deal with Sony. When this happened, the church community of which their dad was the pastor was very unwelcoming of the idea. His congregation didn’t like that they weren’t choosing to be a Christian-specific band. (GASP! The thought of a boy band singing about girls?! Scandal.) 

This pressure was transferred from their father and indirectly to the brothers until they were essentially forced to leave the church. Their father, Kevin Sr., was pressured to step down from being the pastor and suddenly Kevin, Joe, Nick, their parents and their younger brother Frankie were forced out of their home and away from their community. The experience of all of this led to what seemed like a loss of faith for the brothers.

Have the Jonas Brothers ever sang provocative or degrading music? I don’t think so. Are they flirty and fun? Sure. This whole concept of their music and the obstacles that their faith brought to them got me thinking, “Thank goodness I’m Catholic.”

As Catholics, we feel pressured daily to behave and perform in a way that is respectful and glorifies God. We ought not to bring shame to our faith, but there is something so much bigger than you or me involved in the Church, that it brings me a sense of comfort. 

Did you know that Lady Gaga was raised in a traditional, Catholic home? Did you know that most of the members of the Jersey Shore come from Italian Catholic families? Snooki was married in a Catholic church. Does this say that women like Snooki who were arrested on MTV for public intoxication can find grace and forgiveness in the depths of our Church? Or does it say that we’re not strict enough?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Do I know whether or not Snooki took her Catholic wedding Mass seriously? I don’t. Was it just part of a show? Was she just there to impress her parents and make them happy? Maybe they needed to impress some grandparents. 

Here’s what I do know: She had the choice and was given the grace to walk into the presence of the Lord and receive the Sacrament of Marriage that day. I don’t know how the priest felt. Regardless of all these thoughts, it is refreshing to me that no one can be unwelcome from our Church. 

Excommunication is serious business and a process within itself. It’s thanks to the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we can return into the Church and the true presence of our Lord again and again. It’s OK that we as Catholics and parishioners hold our brothers and sisters in Christ to high standards, but at the end of the day we can find home and refuge in the walls of our physical church.

So yes, Chasing Happiness helped me to find happiness and gratitude in my Church and her walls. I am grateful for the priests who dedicate their lives to us through celibacy and leadership. I am grateful for the opportunities of reconciliation and spiritual direction to help us know where we ought to be. I am so grateful to be Catholic.

(Lafantaisie, 24, is owner and photographer for Alice and Flore Photography in Winnipeg, Man.)

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