The Liturgy and the New Evangelization
Dear friends of the Benedict XVI Institute,
Thank you for your continued prayers and enthusiasm for the new Institute. Your e-mails, phone calls, and letters have strengthened our commitment to enhance the liturgical life of the Church through education, collaboration, and Christ-centered fellowship. Thank you also to all those who have spread the word about the Institute. We have received much media coverage about it, and we’re thrilled that there is a great deal of energy surrounding this endeavor.In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis, reiterating the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, said “It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction.’” One of the greatest ways to attract people to the Church is through the sacred liturgy. Indeed, Benedict devoted a great deal of his pontificate to promoting beauty in the liturgy, especially in the field of sacred music. Let us briefly turn to his own words, when he addressed the participants in the National Congress of Scholae Cantorum for the Italian Association of Saint Cecilia:
“[E]ven in countries of ancient evangelization, such as Italy, sacred music — with its own great tradition, which is our Western culture — can have and indeed has an important task: to encourage the rediscovery of God, as well as a renewed approach to the Christian message and to the mysteries of the faith.
Let us think of the famous experience of Paul Claudel, a French poet, who was converted while listening to the singing of the Magnificat at Vespers of Christmas in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. ‘At that moment’, he wrote, ‘I understood the event that dominates my entire life. In an instant my heart was moved and I believed. I believed with such a strong force of adherence, with such an uplifting of my whole being, with such powerful conviction, in a certainty that left no room for any kind of doubt, that since then no reasoning, no circumstance of my turbulent life has been able to shake or touch my faith’. Yet, without turning to distinguished figures, let us think of all the people who have been moved in the depths of their heart while listening to sacred music; and even more, of those who have felt once again drawn to God by the beauty of liturgical music — as was Claudel. And here, dear friends, you have an important role: strive to improve the quality of liturgical song without fearing to recover and to enhance the great musical tradition of the Church, which in Gregorian chant and polyphony has two of its loftiest expressions, as the Second Vatican Council itself says (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 116).”
Sacred music encourages the rediscovery of God— but not only sacred music! Every attempt to beautify the liturgy does the same. So regardless of your role in the liturgy— priest, altar server, lector, musician, or congregant— you can beautify the liturgy, and by that, encourage the world to rediscover God.
Are you a pastor, lector, musician, extraordinary minister of holy communion, or altar server who would like to better fulfill your liturgical function? We are eager to hear from you. Please contact Brendon Ford with your ideas and needs.
With Christ’s Blessings,
Fr. Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B.