Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Papal ceremonies must set liturgical standards, Pope says

Vatican, Dec. 21 ( - Pope Benedict XVI today said that papal ceremonies "must be exemplary liturgy for the entire world."

The Pope was speaking to choir of the pontifical chapel, led by director Giuseppe Liberto, after a concert in the Sistine Chapel. Speaking extemporaneously, the Pope spoke about the importance of liturgical music.

The importance of pontifical liturgy has become more pronounced, the Pope said. He noted that "today, with television and radio, many people, from all parts of the world, follow the liturgy." Those who follow the papal ceremonies are likely to use them as a yardstick against which liturgy should be measured, the Pope said. Thus the liturgy becomes a way in which the Pope teaches the Catholic faithful, giving them a proper idea of what they should expect.

The Pope underlined the importance of beauty in liturgical celebrations. He observed that the beauty of music -- especially chant -- can enhance the experience of worship. And he added that doing something beautiful for God has its own merit -- observing that the site of his talk, the Sistine Chapel, was an outstanding example of a work of great artistic beauty devoted to religious faith.

Gregorian chant has a special place in liturgical music, the Holy Father continued. He reminded his listeners that the tradition of the Church has always suggested that angels chant rather than merely speaking, and that the beauty of their chant is "a celestial beauty, revealing the beauty of heaven."

The chant performed by human singers provides an echo of that "angelic chant," the Pope continued. He thanked the young singers for the contributions that they make to the beauty of papal liturgies, acknowledging the sacrificies they make in order to do so. Pope Benedict has always shown a keen interest in liturgical renewal and liturgical music. His 1999 book The Spirit of the Liturgy devoted a full chapter to liturgical music.

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