quote Ratzinger, Gandhi, and the liturgy

“I would like very much to place at the close of my reflections a beautiful saying of Mahatma Gandhi, which I recently found on a calendar. …

… Gandhi refers to the three living spaces of the cosmos and to the way in which each of these living spaces has its own mode of being. Fish live in the sea, and they are silent. Animals on the earth cry. But the birds, whose living space is the heavens, sing. Silence is proper to the sea, crying to the earth, and singing to the heavens. Man, however, has a share in all three. He bears within himself the depths of the sea, the burden of the earth, and the heights of heaven, and for that reason all three properties belong to him: silence, crying, and singing. Today — I should like to add — we see how the cry is all that remains for the man without transcendence because he wills to be only earth and also attempts to make heaven and the depths of the sea into his earth. The right liturgy, the liturgy of the communion of saints, restores his totality to him. It teaches him silence and singing again by opening up the depths of the sea to him and by teaching him to fly like the angels. By lifting up his heart, it brings the song buried in him to sound again. Indeed, we can even say the reverse: one recognizes right liturgy in that it frees us from general activity and restores to us again the depths and the heights, quiet and song. One recognizes right liturgy in that it has a cosmic not a group character. It sings with the angels. It is silent with the waiting depths of the universe. And thus it redeems the earth.

—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, address to the Eighth International Church Music Congress in Rome, November 17, 1985. It was subsequently published in Communio: International Catholic Review (Winter 1986, pp 377-390, translated from Italian by Stephen Wentworth Arndt) and then reprinted by Adoremus Bulletin in April 2008.


Header image by U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Suzanne M. Day – http://www.andrews.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/080415-F-9629D-104.JPG, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3999354