What is Useless
“A Church which only makes use of ‘utility music’ has fallen for what is, in fact, useless. She too becomes ineffectual. For her mission is a far higher one. As the Old Testament speaks of the Temple, the Church is to be the place of ‘glory’, and as such, too, the place where mankind’s cry of distress is brought to the ear of God.
The Church must not settle down with what is merely comfortable and serviceable at the parish level; she must arouse the voice of the cosmos and, by glorifying the Creator, elicit the glory of the cosmos itself, making it also glorious, beautiful, habitable, and beloved.
To Turn One’s Back on Beauty
Next to the saints, the art which the Church has produced is the only real ‘apologia’ for her history. It is this glory which witness to the Lord, not theology’s clever explanations for all the terrible things which, lamentably, fill the pages of her history. The Church is to transform, improve, ‘humanize’ the world — but how can she do that if at the same time she turns her back on beauty, which is so closely allied to love? For together, beauty and love form the true consolation in this world, bringing it as near as possible to the world of the resurrection.
The Church must maintain high standards; she must be a place where beauty can be at home; she must lead the struggle for that ‘spiritualization’ without which the world becomes ‘the first circle of hell’. Thus to ask what is ‘suitable’ must always be the same as asking what is ‘worthy’: it must constantly challenge us to seek what is worthy of the Church’s worship.”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
On the Theological Basis of Music
The Feast of Faith