The implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal is indeed a great gift from Holy Mother Church. Yet, we may not see the fruit it has to offer for years to come. I am convinced that it’s catechetical power will affect the Church within the next two to five years. Within a few months, most Catholics should be at home with our new translation and at that point, the repetition will begin to form hearts and minds. Catholic worship will not be the same because of it.
I also believe the new translation will reach out beyond the believing Roman Catholic community. Pope Benedict XVI in his General Audience of 31 August 2011 spoke about the power of the beautiful and it’s effect on the soul.
“It may have happened on some occasion that you paused before a sculpture, a picture, a few verses of a poem or a piece of music that you found deeply moving, that gave you a sense of joy, a clear perception, that is, that what you beheld was not only matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a collection of letters or an accumulation of sounds, but something greater, something that “speaks”, that can touch the heart, communicate a message, uplift the mind.”
We all know the feeling of seeing a beautiful sunrise or the great majesty of a mountain range. The beauty of nature speaks to the depths of ones soul. It becomes a “God experience.” The beauty of creation tells the human soul that there is a God who created it all. The Holy Father relates that “some artistic expressions are real highways to God, the supreme Beauty; indeed, they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer.”
The beauty of the Church’s Liturgy speak volumes more than any one theologian can express in words. For that reason, I believe the New Liturgical Movement is so important to the Church and the New Evangelization. Since the Second Vatican Council, there has been a false “spirit” of the Council. Pastors, Liturgists, and Religious Education Coordinators all felt that they had to create something “new and meaningful” for each Liturgy. What the Church passed on to us, although created by the Concillium after the Council was even outdated for many. The Liturgy became like a toy that we shape in our own image, rather than the Liturgy shaping us and our spiritual lives.
It appears that the days of “experimentation” are behind us now, except for only for a few remaining pockets here and there. The next step needs to be Sacred Music. We really need to banish these banal, fly by night songs that are more suited to a cocktail lounge. In the beginning, all of that music had such an appeal, however after it’s honeymoon, that shine is gone and temporary magnetism has lost it’s hold. It seems that the Vatican has also decided to clean the Liturgical closet. In a recent announcement of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship is to form at commission for “Liturgical art and sacred music.”
In the same talk on beuty, Pope Benedict stated: “I remember a concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach in Munich, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the end of the last passage, one of the Cantatas, I felt, not by reasoning but in the depths of my heart, that what I had heard had communicated truth to me, the truth of the supreme composer, and impelled me to thank God. The Lutheran bishop of Munich was next to me and I said to him spontaneously: “in hearing this one understands: it is true; such strong faith is true, as well as the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God’s truth”.
Sacred Music has the power to move one’s heart to God. In the biography of Steve Jobs, there are two instances of music moving Steve to belief in God. The first happened when Waltar Isaacson was talking to Jobs about the selections on his iPod. At one point, after going through his rock and roll favorites like Dylan and Beatles, he “tapped on a Gregorian chant, “Spiritus Domini,” performed by Benedictine monks. For a minute or so he zoned out, almost in a trance. “That’s really beautiful,” he murmured.” The second was after Yo Yo Ma played some Bach for Steve. Jobs was deeply moved and stated “You playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.”
This is a compelling enough reason to return to our tradition of Sacred Music and Chant. When Liturgy is celebrated as given by the Church, man gets out of the way, and God can touch the human heart so that all people experience that Mass as did Fr. Faber, “The most beautiful thing this side of heaven.”