Concluding an allocution about an otherwise rather obscure 8th century German monk and poet by the name of Rabanus Maurus, on Wednesday of Pope Benedict XVI spoke once again on the beauty of the liturgy.
Beauty and excellence in the celebration of the liturgy, especially in its component of sacred music, is obviously not an end in itself. It serves the Word of God. It fosters authentic Catholic worship. It educates the faithful in the various forms of "active participation" as well as in the value of the skilful execution of sacred music. It sustains a cultural tradition that it is rooted in, and expresses, a rich history that is every Catholic's heritage. It sustains an identity that is widely respected even by other Christian confessions, especially the Orthodox. It constitutes not only a milieu for ecumenical exchange but also for inter-religious communion. Christian aesthetics are, in fact, a form of evangelisation.
The Catholic Church has so much to be thankful for in Pope Benedict XVI and in his teaching and governance.