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Two Benedictine College theology students did something that might sound impossible: They condensed the spirituality of a famous Carmelite nun into a four-minute rap. Watch it above or click here to see it on YouTube (with lyrics in the description).
Sarah Seaton, Benedictine College class of 2021, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a Theology and Philosophy major whose minor in Music came in handy for the project. Lexy Minner, class of 2021, is from Greeley, Colo., with a major in Accounting and a minor in Theology.
The two completed the project for their “Spiritual Theology” class, a course which explores the great works and major themes of spiritual theology. It started when Benedictine College theologian Dr. Jeremy Sienkiewicz assigned a final presentation and added, jokingly, “original musical productions during the video are encouraged.”
Minner immediately texted Seaton and said, “Sarah do we try to write a rap about spiritual theology for the final?”
Seaton answered, “I thought the same thing!”
The two got permission from their professor to do the rap. They promised the video would be “thoughtful and entertaining.” Minner said “Dr. Sienkiewicz’s curiosity led him to say Yes.”
The two got a lot of inspiration from St. Benedicta of the Cross, better known as Edith Stein.
Stein was a German Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She is canonized as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and she is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. She died in Auschwitz in 1942.
“She pursued her doctoral degree in philosophy, which I imagine required a lot of creative thinking and love for learning.,” Seaton said.
“I think Edith Stein would have liked our video,” Minner said. “She would appreciate the way we were able to condense her theology enough so that it could be a rap without losing the meaning of her words.” Stein was heavily influenced by another Carmelite who expressed himself in verse, she added. “St. John of the Cross wrote in poems and a rap is its own kind of poem.”
Having the right equipment helped turn inspiration into a final product.
“We really enjoy creative silly things like this so the whole process was a blast,” said Minner. “Our recording equipment is as sophisticated as a $20 desk microphone I bought from Amazon during quarantine. … For the video, we just used our phones and got my 10 year old sister to help us record.”
Seaton said the class helped her personalize the mission of Benedictine College. “One thing I learned is that we do not merely ‘have spiritual lives.’ Rather, our whole life is spiritual. Entering into the college’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship are not distinct endeavors from my relationship with God. My education at Benedictine has been deeply formative to my person, and as a result, have been deeply formative to my relationship with God.”
Dr. Sienkiewicz said, “I am actually amazingly impressed with the artistic quality of the poetry combined with the deep answers to the questions. The combination is not one that is easy to pull off. I am quasi-obsessed with the video. It is an amazing piece of theology, a testament to their own education and growth in relation with God this semester, and a rap of which Dr. Dre himself would be proud.”