Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Beauty, Music, and the Priest

This year, we have scheduled a series of concerts at Saint John's Seminary, many of which are open to the public. Watch this space for further notices as each concert approaches.  \\Some have asked me why such musical experiences are important in the formation of candidates for the Priesthood. It's a great question and one which is dear to my heart, since I believe that an appreciation of music and all the other arts is indispensable to my life as a Priest.

In our technologically obsessed world I need to turn off the Iphone (even the Iphone 5!) and just let my soul be transported to a place of symmetry, beauty and the deepest of human emotions. Music cleanses me of the bits and data which so often obsess my life. It centers me, as do all things beautiful, on the Creator of all beauty. It creates a quiet space, where I can rest in his presence.

Many of you know of the great value which I have placed on the arts in my life and in my Priesthood. The arts are, for me, an infinite reservoir from which I want to encourage you to drink deeply.

Our Holy Father, however, put it far better than I ever could, in his message to a meeting of Communion and Liberation in 2002. He wrote:

“The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments. For me an unforgettable experience was the Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death of Karl Richter. I was sitting next to the Lutheran Bishop Hanselmann. When the last note of one of the great Thomas-Kantor-Cantatas triumphantly faded away, we looked at each other 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.”