Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis

The Vatican website has now published an English translation of the Post Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI on The Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church`s Life and Mission. (22nd February 2007).

It can be accessed here.

Other websites and Catholic weblogs will no doubt be able to provide informative and authoritative explanations and commentary on the Exhortation.

But two sections did catch my eye: one on Art; and the other on Music.

The sections are below with the relevant footnotes added. Footnotes 125, 126 and 128 seem in particular to be worthy of note.

"Art at the service of the liturgy

41. The profound connection between beauty and the liturgy should make us attentive to every work of art placed at the service of the celebration. (122) Certainly an important element of sacred art is church architecture, (123) which should highlight the unity of the furnishings of the sanctuary, such as the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the ambo and the celebrant's chair. Here it is important to remember that the purpose of sacred architecture is to offer the Church a fitting space for the celebration of the mysteries of faith, especially the Eucharist. (124) The very nature of a Christian church is defined by the liturgy, which is an assembly of the faithful (ecclesia) who are the living stones of the Church (cf. 1 Pet 2:5).

This same principle holds true for sacred art in general, especially painting and sculpture, where religious iconography should be directed to sacramental mystagogy. A solid knowledge of the history of sacred art can be advantageous for those responsible for commissioning artists and architects to create works of art for the liturgy. Consequently it is essential that the education of seminarians and priests include the study of art history, with special reference to sacred buildings and the corresponding liturgical norms. Everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty. Special respect and care must also be given to the vestments, the furnishings and the sacred vessels, so that by their harmonious and orderly arrangement they will foster awe for the mystery of God, manifest the unity of the faith and strengthen devotion (125).

Liturgical song

42. In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that "the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love" (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

(122) Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 112-130.

(123) Cf. Propositio 27.

(124) Cf. ibid.

(125) In these matters the provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 319-351, are to be faithfully observed.

(126) Cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 39-41; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 112-118.

(127) Sermo 34, 1: PL 38, 210.

(128) Cf. Propositio 25: "Like every artistic expression, singing must be closely adapted to the liturgy and contribute effectively to its aim; in other words, it must express faith, prayer, wonder and love of Jesus present in the Eucharist."

(129) Cf. Propositio 29.

(130) Cf. Propositio 36.

(131) Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 41."

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