15 September 2008

A second Regensburg?

Pope Benedict XVI's address to the University of Regensburg launched a new and fervent dialogue between Christians and Muslims on the relationship between faith and reason. I cannot help but wonder if his address at the College of the Bernardines in Paris will launch a renewed dialogue on the relationship between faith and culture and society.
Beginning with a consideration of the formation of Christian monasteries, the Pontiff touches upon the quest of monks, Divine Revelation, the interpretation of the Bible, music, liturgy, apologetics, freedom, work and evangelization. And, as always, the Holy Father teaches in a clear and linear fashion.
This really is a must-read-text, and one that should filed away for easy use in the future. A few snippets:
The word does not lead to a purely individual path of mystical immersion, but to the pilgrim fellowship of faith. And so this word must not only be pondered, but also correctly read.
The God who speaks in the Bible teaches us how to speak with him ourselves. Particularly in the book of Psalms, he gives us the words with which we can address him, with which we can bring our life, with all its highpoints and lowpoints, into conversation with him, so that life itself thereby becomes a movement towards him.
For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required.
Christian worship is therefore an invitation to sing with the angels, and thus to lead the word to its highest destination.
[I]n 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.
[T]he word of God only comes to us through the human word and through human words, that God only speaks to us through the humanity of human agents, through their words and their history. This means again that the divine element in the word and in the words is not self-evident. To say this in a modern way: the unity of the biblical books and the divine character of their words cannot be grasped by purely historical methods.
It would be a disaster if today’s European culture could only conceive freedom as absence of obligation, which would inevitably play into the hands of fanaticism and arbitrariness. Absence of obligation and arbitrariness do not signify freedom, but its destruction.
It really is a magnificent address.

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