Under my Umbrella

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, she was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty and she is known in most circles, especially music, simply as Rihanna. She is a Barbadian singer and song writer known for a number of hit songs like We Found Love, Diamonds, and Umbrella. I am sure that many of you have heard her songs at either parties, social gatherings, or just over the radio.

Some of the lyrics to her song Umbrella include, “You can stand under my umbrella- ella- ella-ehh- ehh-ehh….” In an interview, Rihanna was asked if this song had any particular meaning or was about proving protection to which she replied, “an umbrella is for protection; it protects us from the rain.” She then stated that in her case it was a metaphor for negativity and vulnerability. One could conclude that the song offers comfort and consolation to someone who might be going through rough times and how she will be a source of refuge and support in both good times and bad times.

I would like to add my own personal interpretation of the song that the umbrella could also be a source of inclusivity. As Catholics, we pray in the Creed that we belong to ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. The word Catholic means universal. In other words, it is worldwide and as such includes every race, language and culture around the globe. It also means that all Her members believe, embrace and hold as true all Her teachings; however, the Church would also teach that in unity, there is diversity. Some examples of this would include differing styles in liturgy and worship. For example, the Church in Nigeria (Fr. Azubuike’s homeland) uses liturgical dance in liturgies. Men and women in ornate and elaborate dress dance up the aisle during the Presentation of the Gifts, something we here in the United States (especially those of Western European ancestry) do not do during Mass. Another example would be the language and worship style of the various Rites that compose the Catholic Church. We here at St. Boniface Martyr are part of the ROMAN RITE which is the largest Rite of the Catholic Church; however there are other Rites (Byzantine, Syro-Malankara, etc that also belong to the Catholic Church. Their rituals (ways of celebrating mass) are quite different, but very beautiful. To all of us who belong to the Roman Rite, these other customs and traditions would appear “very foreign” but the Church encourages differing cultures and nationalities to incorporate their traditions into the Sacred Liturgy.

Holy Mother Church seeks to embrace, love and support all people UNDER HER UMBRELLA!
I am often puzzled and sometimes dismayed by what appear to be many faithful and good Catholics who for one reason or another tend to pass judgment on other Catholics who may embrace other more traditional forms of worship particularly pious devotions and prayers or more forward thinking ways of worship. Several parishes in our Diocese have a Rock Mass on Sunday evening. The music is ALWAYS CHRISTO-CENTRIC and LITURGICALLY PERMISSIBLE; however, the instruments are not quite so traditional, i.e. organ/piano. Rather Rock instruments are used such as drums, base and electric guitars and perhaps a keyboard. When I was assigned to St. Aidan we had a Rock Mass to draw in young and not so young who were looking for a more contemporary style of worship, while still reverencing all the rubrics and liturgical laws governing worship. One individual wrote the Pastor and me a letter complaining how I could celebrate such a mass because he deemed it irreverent. Worse yet he asked the Pastor how he could allow such a thing in Church!

The Church through the ages has encouraged differing styles of worship and prayer provided it IS NOT CONTRARY TO THE FAITH. In case you’re wondering how I responded to this person’s objection, I simply told him “THE UMBRELLA OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS BIG ENOUGH FOR ALL TO FIT UNDER!”


Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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