SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
AT THE SCHOLAE CANTORUM OF THE ITALIAN ASSOCIATION SANTA CECILIA
Paul VI Hall
Saturday, 28 September 2019
Dear brothers and sisters,
I welcome all of you: to the president, Mgr. Tarcisio Cola, whom I thank for his words, to the Board of Directors and to you singers, choir directors, organists, gathered from various parts of Italy.
You are part of the worthy Italian Association of Santa Cecilia, an ancient foundation - 140 years - and still alive and active and eager to serve the Church. The affection and esteem of the Popes for this Association are known, in particular of Saint Pius X, who gave the people of God organic provisions on sacred music (see Motu Proprio Between the solicitudes, 22 November 1903). Saint Paul VI wanted you renewed and active for a music that is integrated with the liturgy and that derives its fundamental characteristics from it. Not just any music, but holy music, because the rites are holy; endowed with the nobility of art, because to God one must give the best; universal, because everyone can understand and celebrate. Above all, very distinct and different from that used for other purposes. And he recommended that you cultivate the sensus ecclesiae, the discernment of music in the liturgy. He said: "Not everything is valid, not everything is lawful, not everything is good. Here the sacred must unite with the beautiful in a harmonious and devoted synthesis "(Address to the religious involved in the liturgical chant, 15 April 1971). Benedict XVI urged you not to forget the musical heritage of the past, to renew it and increase it with new compositions.
Dear friends, I also encourage you to continue on this path. Being an Association is a resource: it helps you to generate movement, interest, commitment to better serve the liturgy. Association that is not the protagonist or owner of any music, but whose program is love and fidelity to the Church. Together you can better engage in singing as an integral part of the Liturgy, inspired by the first model, Gregorian chant. Together you take care of the artistic and liturgical preparation, and promote the presence of the schola cantorum in every parish community. The choir in fact guides the assembly and - with its specific repertoires - is a qualified voice of spirituality, communion, tradition and liturgical culture. I recommend that you help to sing the whole people of God, with conscious and active participation in the Liturgy. This is important: closeness to the people of God.
The fields of your apostolate are various: the composition of new melodies; promote singing in seminaries and houses of religious formation; support parish choirs, organists, schools of sacred music, young people. Singing, playing, composing, directing, making music in the Church are among the most beautiful things for the glory of God. It is a privilege, a gift from God to express musical art and help participate in the divine mysteries. A beautiful and good music is a privileged instrument for the approach to the transcendent, and often it helps to understand a message even those who are distracted.
I know that your preparation involves sacrifices linked to the availability of time to devote to rehearsals, to the involvement of people, to executions on feast days, when perhaps friends invite you to go "for a walk". A lot of times! But your dedication to the liturgy and its music represents a way of evangelization at all levels, from children to adults. The liturgy is in fact the first "teacher" of catechism. Do not forget this: the Liturgy is the first "teacher" of catechism.
Sacred music also fulfills another task, that of uniting Christian history together: in the Liturgy, Gregorian chant, polyphony, popular and contemporary music resound. It is as if at that moment all past and present generations were praising God, each with their own sensitivity. Not only that, but sacred music - and music in general - creates bridges, brings people together, even the most distant; he knows no barriers of nationality, ethnicity, skin color, but involves everyone in a superior language, and always manages to tune people and groups of very different backgrounds. Sacred music reduces distances even with those brothers who sometimes feel not close. This is why in every parish the singing group is a group where there is a sense of availability and mutual help.
For all this, dear brothers, I thank you and encourage you. May the Lord help you to be constant in your commitment. The Church values the service you provide in the communities: you help them feel the attraction of beauty, which detoxifies from mediocrity, elevates upwards, towards God, and unites hearts in praise and tenderness. I bless you and all the members of the Santa Cecilia Association. Our Lady protect you. And since the singer prays twice, I trust that you will also pray for me. Thanks!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va -