“Music, that is the science or the sense of proper modulation, is likewise given by God’s generosity to mortals having rational souls in order to lead them to higher things.”
-Saint Augustine, Epis. 161. De origine animae hominis, 1, 2; PL XXXIII, 725.
With a name like Cecilia, one shouldn’t be surprised that I have a passion for music. Even though I wasn’t given the opportunity to learn an instrument, I always had a heart for music, beautifully Sacred Music. Yet, I didn’t know that I had this passion for music until I attended my first real High Latin Mass.
The day I attended a truly High Latin Mass was at the historical church downtown New Orleans, St. Patrick on Easter Sunday mass 2015. I truly witnessed the most beautiful mass of my life. I felt transcended between this world and Heaven. Just when the priest elevated the Holy Host, the trumps of the orchestra played and the bells rang throughout the city. I truly felt that Heaven open up and angles knelt at that moment. I cried so hard. I knew for the first time in my life what Sacred Music was meant to do for us, poor souls on earth, to look up to and yearn for Heaven.
I believed that teaching and showing my children what is beautiful in words, art, and music in our home school life is a must. We use the classical education method in our home which fosters learning for all things beautiful.
Learning about Sacred Music is to open the door to the vast experience of Beauty. I want my children to discern Beauty, to seek it out, and to use it as a guide to what is good and true. So studying Sacred Music is composed of important principles of Beauty: form, proportion, and motion. Beauty is what holds truth and goodness to their task.
What is Sacred Music?
A definition by Diocese of Sioux Falls,
Very simply, music is the art and science of sound. Throughout time, music has been defined as one of the most important fields of academia. Music has been classified as one of the arts of the medieval quadrivium, along with arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. The Catholic Church has named it “The Greatest of the Sacred Arts” because of its ability, even more than visual art, to evoke transcendence.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.” It is not the ordinary, not the every-day. It is set aside for the purpose of glorifying God and edifying and sanctifying the faithful!
What are some ways of learning about Sacred Music?
The first step is to listen to it. Truly listen to it. Here is a Youtube channel just for that. And the next step is going from simply listening to discerning. One must study it, let music history and history of fine arts be a part of the understanding of Sacred Music. Here are a few ideas that can help with this step: Discovering Music: 300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture, and Traditional Catholic Living has a simple yet beautiful curriculum for families. Sancta Missa and Musica Sacra are filled with lots of great resources on Sacred Music.
Why Sacred Music?
St. John Paul II expresses perfectly why Sacred Music should be an essential part of the liturgy of the mass.
“As a manifestation of the human spirit,” said John Paul II in 1988, “music performs a function which is noble, unique, and irreplaceable. When it is truly beautiful and inspired, it speaks to us more than all the other arts of goodness, virtue, peace, of matters holy and divine. For good reason, it has always been, and it will always be, an essential part of the liturgy”
Therefore, I encourage you to learn more about what Sacred Music can do for your soul while still living out this life on earth!
Check out the blog series featuring this article and many others, hosted by Reconciled to You: What Does the Catholic Church Really Have to Offer Me?