quaerere Deum – seeking God

artykul w tym temacie w jez. polskim

Very interesting speech of pope Benedict XVI during his visit to France last week. He was addressing the ‘World of culture”, trying to show the path for the Western civilization to emerge again as a society having answers to the essential and central questions of the purposes for humanity. The whole text is here, and below some excerpts:

Their goal was: quaerere Deum. Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential – to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. It is sometimes said that they were “eschatologically” oriented. But this is not to be understood in a temporal sense, as if they were looking ahead to the end of the world or to their own death, but in an existential sense: they were seeking the definitive behind the provisional.

For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required.

“The monks had to find melodies which translate into music the acceptance by redeemed man of the mysteries that he celebrates. The few surviving capitula from Cluny thus show the Christological symbols of the individual modes”

For Benedict, the words of the Psalm: coram angelis psallam Tibi, Domine – in the presence of the angels, I will sing your praise (cf. 138:1) – are the decisive rule governing the prayer and chant of the monks. What this expresses is the awareness that in communal prayer one is singing in the presence of the entire heavenly court, and is thereby measured according to the very highest standards: that one is praying and singing in such a way as to harmonize with the music of the noble spirits who were considered the originators of the harmony of the cosmos, the music of the spheres.

It shows that the culture of singing is also the culture of being, and that the monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty. This intrinsic requirement of speaking with God and singing of him with words he himself has given, is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music. It was not a form of private “creativity”, in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion. Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the “ears of the heart” the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men, and thus discovering music that is worthy of God, and at the same time truly worthy of man, music whose worthiness resounds in purity.

By becoming a monk, a man set out on a broad and noble path, but he had already found the direction he needed: the word of the Bible, in which he heard God himself speaking. Now he had to try to understand him, so as to be able to approach him. So the monastic journey is indeed a journey into the inner world of the received word, even if an infinite distance is involved. Within the monks’ seeking there is already contained, in some respects, a finding. Therefore, if such seeking is to be possible at all, there has to be an initial spur, which not only arouses the will to seek, but also makes it possible to believe that the way is concealed within this word, or rather: that in this word, God himself has set out towards men, and hence men can come to God through it. To put it another way: there must be proclamation, which speaks to man and so creates conviction, which in turn can become life.

the law and the prophets. day 14

3 man who fasted 40 days are mentioned in the Bible: Moses, Elijah and Jesus Christ.

Moses, the law giver, was so transformed by God’s presence that his face shone from the glory of God. Elijah, the prophet, the one who heard the voice of God, cured the lepers and raised the dead. Both of them come to converse with Christ, during transfiguration on Mount Tabor, while the surroundings are entangled with the clouds. A momentary foretaste of the future glory.

intense spiritual commitment. day 6

 photo by eddiemalone

To find a treasure, a pearl of great price, what must one do? To be joined with the Creator, our own efforts are not enough. It is His gift, but it depends on one’s necessary intense spiritual commitment. The consolation comes in the verse:

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. (Deut 4:29)

“heart” in this text means:

inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding,inner part, midst, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory,inclination, resolution, determination (of will), conscience, heart (of moral character), seat of appetites, seat of emotions and passions, seat of courage.

“soul” in this text means:

soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion, that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man, the man himself, self, person or individual, seat of the appetites, seat of emotions and passions, activity of mind,activity of the will, activity of the character .

Can one afford not to give Him all? People are spending their lives on pursuing professional carriers, sports, hobbies, fame, power, money wholeheartedly. They are giving their time, money and energy in pursuit of chaff and temporary pleasures.

One can’t find the highest fulfillment without offering all. What is worth dying for, is worth living for. Understanding of the eternal brings life under heavenly order.

800 years old sound of heaven

click on the photo to go to their website

Would you like to write a song that would be sang for few centuries and still be fascinating, never boring, heart opening for generations to come? Would you like to give up the copy rights for it? No fame for your name…

That happens right now in Europe. People, particularly young, are buying Winehouse, Radiohead, U2 and lately “Chant-Music for Paradise”. The last one debuted in UK as 9th in the song charts, totally unexpected, and now bunches of sociologists, psychologists and other “-gists” are trying to figure out what’s going on.

Are we overwhelmed with the speed of life, and need some calming, simplified singing to stop our havoc? Are we bored with the noisy postmodern version of music and looking for refreshing sounds for our iPods? Are we trying frantically to invent something new, but we can’t be creative and quick enough, evolving from one sound to the next, so we reach for the ancient old?

800 years old house of prayer

This story starts with one of the monks who sent the link to their music to the Universal Music. Universal was searching for something new, and they were picked.

13 Cistercian monks were picked to record the album. The chants were written few hundred years ago by anonymous monks. The ones on the album include Veni Creator Spiritus ( I sang it sooo many times before, it’s beautiful) and few funeral chants, as two of their brothers recently died and they did not feel like singing “upbeat chants”. They recorded the album in a church, praying/singing the chants. That’s what they do for living in the Stift Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Austria, founded in 1133, as a house of prayer to thank and praise God and to intercede for the sake of the whole world. It was open continually, till today. They pray 5 times a day together, chanting prayers, and working.

The phenomenal singers are asked to tour around, but they refuse, because they are called to Ora et Labora, following the order of St. Benedict.

800 years old songs

What are the characteristics of this form of sung prayer, which is “daily bread” in convents and monasteries?

Father Wallner: Gregorian chant is very ancient. It was born in the first millennium, appearing already in the 4th century, and in many aspects is addressed to the Most High.

First of all the texts are, for the most part, verses from the Bible: hence it is the word of God, which from the mouths of men returns to God in the form of singing.

In the second place, the composers of the melodies were pious anonymous men consecrated to God, mostly monks, who created the music not out of a desire for fame, but men who desired, once the work was complete, to return to total anonymity. Hence, men who in their longing for holiness created something holy.

In the third place, chant is very fascinating, inasmuch as it is situated outside our normal experience of music. There are no tones of C major or D minor, there are no tempi, there is no established rhythm; it is a song for only one voice. Hence, it is a different sound from all other sounds that we today call music. And at the same time, it is at the root of all that which subsequently developed as music.

Fourth point: chant is above all a sung prayer. We sing it always before the altar; therefore, it is not for the people, but for God. That is why we can never go on tour with our chant, because it is always a question of prayer. The recordings for the CD “Chant — Music for Paradise” were also taken from prayer. (from Catholic Online)

Gregorian chant is a form of sung prayer which has been tried and tested through the centuries. It has pre-Christian roots in the ancient Jewish Temple Liturgy. The early Christians adopted many of the ancient chants and developed them further. The Roman Church had the core of what we now know as Gregorian chant by the 7th and 8th centuries. The name “Gregorian chant” comes from Pope St. Gregory the Great (died 604) who founded a “schola cantorum,” a chant school, which collected all the existing chants.

These texts are generally taken from the Bible, the word of God. Thus the monks sing back to God the words which He has Himself given us…joining Heaven and earth. Most of the texts are taken from the Old Testament Psalms. The music is always at the service of the text—unfolding its meaning, and disposing the soul to enter into its spirit ( from their web site).