So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Beauty is as beauty does. Part four: beauty does as beauty is — beauty sings!

Who but the most hardened soul would not agree that music makes life richer, and in those difficult times bearable? Truly, music is a gift from God. What better way to give thanks to the Giver than to honour His gift to us and produce the most beautiful music to offer in praise to the Giver of all good gifts?

For many, music is merely a drug to be passed around until one is distracted from reality. For the connoisseur, music is the finest wine. Remember the wedding feast at Cana (St John 2:1-12)? When the wine ran out, Jesus—at His mother's insistence—provided the best wine by performing a miracle.

Jesus' miracle invites us to consider the nature of the feast to which Jesus invites us. Good food, good drink, good music, good stories—if only people treated the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the same manner as their own weddings!

When our wine runs out, Jesus is there to provide an even more beautiful symphony to purify our hearts and minds of cheap fixations that dull the senses and imprison us in mundane and trite things. Music presented with beautiful intent fuels the beautiful presentation of beautiful music. No matter how seemingly beautiful the heart, however, nothing can rescue falsehood for worship. A beautifully sung tribute to a fiction may tickle the ears, but the text which is fiction (heresy), no matter how pleasant, remains a fiction and effort wasted on a lie. Such fiction is poison. The musician who presents heterodox songs in the Mass, even though he or she be sincere in his or her conviction to honour God, does not honour God by telling half truths wed to, in most cases, syrupy melodies. Worse still is the presentation of a traditional hymn that has been "adjusted" to be politically "correct". Such a hymn, formerly poetry, has become a vehicle for idolatry.

Music, in the Catholic tradition, always points to God even when it speaks about the good things God gives to His people. Liturgical music, if it be true, has the worshippers speaking to God, not at nor around Him.

Beautiful music embodies Truth. Beautiful music proceeds from a heart of beauty. What is a heart of beauty? A heart of beauty is a loving heart married to a mind schooled in the science of harmony, a mind sensitive to the nuances of a text.

The heart of beauty knows that music serves the text of the Liturgy. In a work of art, text and music are perfectly united. Neither pitch nor rhythm obscure the meaning of the text. Rather, they serve to bring out the fullest meaning of the text.

Thus is the music of the Mass: a heart rapt in the love of God for God with God and in God.

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