Monday, September 15, 2008

What is the Pope Saying?

From His Homily at the Mass at the Esplanade des Invalides:

(My emphasis added)

"This appeal to shun idols", he added, "is also pertinent today. ... The
word 'idol' comes from the Greek and means 'image', 'figure',
'representation', but also 'ghost', 'phantom', 'vain appearance'. An idol is
a delusion, for it turns its worshipper away from reality
and places him in
the kingdom of mere appearances".

"Now", the Pope asked, "is this not a temptation in our own day - the only
one we can act upon effectively? The temptation to idolise a past that no
longer exists, forgetting its shortcomings
; the temptation to idolise a
future which does not yet exist, in the belief that, by his efforts alone,
man can bring about the kingdom of eternal joy on earth
!" In the same way,
"have not money, the thirst for possessions, for power and even for
knowledge, diverted man from his true destiny?"

Of course, context is everything in these kinds of statements, but in light of the statements made to the French Bishops concerning Summorum Pontificum there seems to be a call for a reality check, both for Traditionalists and for Progressives.

Also this concerning an address to representatives from the World of Culture:

Going on to consider the importance of song in monastic life, Benedict XVI noted how St. Bernard of Clairvaux, "describes the confusion resulting from a poorly executed chant as a falling into the 'zone of dissimilarity'". This
term was used by St. Augustine "to designate his condition prior to
conversion: man, who is created in God's likeness, falls in his
godforsakenness into the 'zone of dissimilarity', into a remoteness from
God, in which he no longer reflects Him, and so has become dissimilar not
only to God, but to himself, to what being human truly is".

For St. Bernard "the culture of singing is also the culture of being, and
the monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur
of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty

One of the hallmarks of Benedict's approach to reform is his strong conviction that reform relies heavily on the actions of the clergy. This is eveident in the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, and a similar concept seems to underlie this statement. If there is going to be an eventual acceptance of the use of chant, it will have to begin with the Priests and religious and brought to the faithful by their example. How appropriate for a Pope named Benedict!

Another remarkable feature of this address is how it ties Chant into the overall understanding of God's word.... and that very subject is the main topic of this October's Bishops Synod. Perhaps he will make the connection explicit at that time? We can at least hope so!

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