Indeed, God calls all sorts of people and works with everybody. That's what we confirmed at Universe of Faith from Daniel and Sander - Danusan. This is the faith journey of these two Maltese comedians – Daniel Chircop and Chrysander Agius – a duo commonly known as Danusan, and their thoughts about the Church in Malta.
Crysander’s faith journey ...
“For me the Church is less important than God. God is the most important. I make a distinction between the Church, God and the religion I believe in. I value my faith. These things became important when I grew up.
When I was 14, 15, 16, I didn’t care much about these matters. In life you then meet a lot of people, go through many things, you eventually mature and start seeing things differently, some things become less important and others will take priority. I cannot pinpoint to a particular event when I started changing, it was more a kind of a process. Faith is like cheese, it matures with time.
When it comes to prayer, I prefer to communicate with God, mass is second category for me. I associate with mass a sense of obligation (bilfors) while with God you can communicate wherever you want. I prefer mass at the Xgħajra chapel though, priests like Fr Colin Apap and Fr Karm Debattista are among my favourite as they know how to project well what there is in their mind.
I have also visited the Holy Land in 2017. When you visit that place, it helps your faith, you understand what happened in Jesus’ life, especially where the passion of Christ took place. Even if when they take you around, it is not the exact place where a particular event happened, it has still been an enriching experience. I can’t describe the feeling, but there’s something in that place which also helped me change my faith.
On death – “Why do we keep lingering in our sadness?” asks Sander of Danusan
Until ten years ago, I did not give any value to death and did not understand it. However, when I saw my mother fell ill and go through it, it was different. She was so peaceful and so accepting that her life is nearing the end, I couldn’t understand her. But today I do. Indeed, if we believe in a better afterlife, why do we keep lingering in our sadness? I still miss her, but that’s it. I do believe she is in a good place.
Today that I grew, I also feel that whatever I wished to do in my life I have done, I have no regrets and I am not ashamed of anything, if He calls me I am ready.
"The Church has no standards" according to Sander
Priests should be given proper training in homilies, especially those who do not have a natural talent to deliver a speech, or talk or to perform. Mass is also a performance in a way, people are watching and participating. Not all artists are good to be on stage, some are better to prepare props etc. In the same way the Church needs to acknowledge that some priests may be good at confession but not good to deliver a homily etc. She should know how to maximise the talents of her priests.
I am quite mature, I can sit and listen but what about children and teens who are still developing their faith? These people you have to give them something attractive. Why is there a good mass in one Church but not in another? The Church has no standards. A well-animated mass with a proper homily should be standard practice in all churches and chapels.
“If it were not for the Church we are not the country which we are today” says Sander
Speaking of the Church in Malta I do appreciate the strong social aspects, the government services without the Church ones are incomplete. I’m thinking of CARITAS and the many NGOs she runs. Daniel and I are also volunteers at Missio; when you see the lots of work which is done, you realise that the Church in Malta and her volunteers do so much more than the Sunday mass. Really, if it were not for the Church in Malta, we are not the country which we are today. The social system which we have still depends heavily on the Church even though we have Appoġġ which does not make it with all the requests it have. Certain categories like gamblers and engaged couples who want to marry, are only supported by the Church who works with volunteers. These services should be run by the government with paid professional staff.
Sander - The comedian and the believer
“There is a clear distinction between my work and my faith. Many people we meet think that because we are comedians we are non-believers or do not go to Church. This is not true. However, if I had to do a play against the Church or joke about a saintly figure, I do not have a problem. That is my job; it does not mean that in real life I am disrespectful to them. The same goes for when I ridicule people in authority or in parliament, in real life I do respect these people. It’s like playing football with a team from another country.
Daniel’s faith story...
My story is different. I was born to two Catholic parents who used to attend a religious organisation which I also attended for some years. Catholic values were important in our family, they left an imprint in me.
“I don’t like it when groups start judging” says Daniel of Danusan
In general what I don’t like in some religious groups is when some of the leaders or members start having an attitude that they are more important than what they believe in and start judging others. This is not specifically about the group I attended but in general, this happens even in non-religious groups sometimes. When this happens people will stray away. It is something that even a priest or a committed lay person can fall into.
Daniel expresses his faith both in private and in public
Along the years I kept going to mass. I also practise my faith in my private life like praying alone, with my family and with my wife, before we sleep and when we wake up. For example, before we sleep we say traditional prayers... Our Father, Hail Mary, Gloria, + part 2 which addresses what happened during the day.
I truly hate boring masses. I do look for masses which are meaningful, also for our children. I use the app of quddies.com.mt. My suggestion to this site is that like they have a flag indicating the language or the mass, they can have something similar to know which masses are animated, which of them have children’s liturgy etc. At the moment it feels like going to a show and you don’t know whether you will laugh or cry in it, whether the priest will attack the way you think or whether this will be the best homily ever you’ve heard in your life, whether your children will enjoy it or not.
“Masses should be fun and give us a boost for the whole week” says Daniel of Danusan
If I know it’s a boring mass, I’d rather spend an hour with my family. I know that these are two different things but if you know that it is a good animated mass, where you are going to have fun and have a boost for the rest of the week you will feel attracted and inclined to go. On the other hand, bad sound, bad vision, bad senseless homilies or good long ones, simply detach people.
We have to keep in mind that people invest time and energy to attend a mass. When we do a stand up comedy, people prepare themselves, they wash, arrange themselves, travel, pay and come specifically to watch us. One standupper does not last longer than 8 mins mostly 10, the rest is extra. How is it possible to have a homily of 20 minutes? People have a span of attention, this is human nature.
Also, people of different generations have different values. Some will make an effort an look for a good mass, others won’t. Some children just don’t feel the need to go. When I take them they start complaining “uff”, unless I take them to a good one of course, but sometimes, I cannot, and in these cases they have nothing to look forward to so they don’t want to come.
Not all priests are abusive in the Catholic Church says Daniel
An end note when I talk with people about priests, I think that it is unfair to generalise. There are husbands who are violent with their wives, there are others who are very loving. The same goes to the priests, some are abusers but there are many others who have done much good to society. I am very grateful for the Cana course and the preparation I have received. I learned a lot of new things about my girlfriend.
Daniel's Holy Land visit enriched his faith
Like Sander, I have also been to the Holy Land on a separate occasion in 2000. It is something that I recommend to all Christians who have faith. I got more in touch with myself, it felt magical. I liked most the garden of olives.
About Daniel Chircop and Chrysander Agius (Danusan):
Daniel and Chrysander of Danusan are both full-time comedians. Daniel says that he was not a drama star when he was a kid but started doing small tasks until “when I was sixteen, my brother who has died at a young age, had encourage me to attend an audition for a children’s programme. I never looked back. We gave a boost to Maltese comedy since the time of Aħna Aħna jew M’aħniex (a Maltese satirical series in the 1980s)? People relate to us because we start from what is ordinary in our family shows.”
Chrysander has felt this love for comedy since he was a kid. “ I feel the love for comedy deep within me. It is like a vocation. This job gives me and adrenaline. This job gives me risks and challenges, which I like. It also gives me great satisfaction, on one hand that I am able to make a good living out of it and on the other that I see people laughing and then the comments that they enjoyed the show. I can’t describe, it’s beautiful.”
Published: March 2018