Category Archives: the pope speaks

great article

Here’s a quote:

In his seminal work The Spirit of the Liturgy, then–Cardinal Ratzinger argued that the purpose of liturgy is not primarily to develop human relationships, be creative in worship, or promote humanitarian agendas. Rather, the liturgy is the worship of God. The forms and styles are given to us by the Church of the ages; similarly, bishops and clergy are not innovators but stewards of the inheritance they have been given.

Read the whole thing on I’ve got to quote some more from Father Dwight Longenecker’s excellent article (hat tip to Toni for sending me the link):

Similar reasoning explains Benedict’s wish for Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony to be used more widely. No one expects that every parish will suddenly switch to Gregorian chant and polyphony but rather that a wider use of traditional music will influence the positive development of Catholic sacred music.

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sacred music: ‘not just ornamental’

Here’s an intriguing article by Michael Knox Beran, discussing the pope’s beliefs on the significance of music in the liturgy. And it’s not just ear candy. An outtake:

The pope adheres to old Greek belief that words and sounds — and the rhythmic patterns in which they are bound together in music and poetry — have a unique power to awaken the mind. He has spoken frequently of the power of rhythm to prepare the soul to receive truths that would otherwise remain unintelligible. In 2002 he described the experience of listening to music as an “encounter with the beautiful,” one that becomes “the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes.” He went on to say,

For me, an unforgettable experience was the Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death [in 1981] of Karl Richter. I was sitting next to the Lutheran Bishop Hanselmann. When the last note of one of the great Thomas-Kantor-Cantatas faded away, we looked at each spontaneously and right then we said, ‘Anyone who has heard this, knows that the faith is true.’ The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s inspiration.

For Benedict, the music and poetry of the liturgy are not merely ornamental; they are essential to the education to the soul. “How often,” the pope exclaimed, in October, to members of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, “does the rich biblical and patristic tradition stress the effectiveness of song and sacred music in moving and uplifting hearts to penetrate, so to speak, the intimate depths of God’s life itself!”