VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The beauty of the Christian cultural inheritance is not something that is "outdated," but rather something that will remain alive and current in the measure of a lively faith, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today upon delivering his weekly catechesis today in Paul VI Hall in which he commented on the Christian poetry of Romanus the Melodist, a theologian, poet and composer was born in Syria at the end of the fifth century.
The Holy Father explained that Romanus was an ordained deacon who dedicated himself to an original form of catechesis.
It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to Romanus in a dream, explained the Pontiff, and gave him the gift of poetic charism. From that moment on he began preaching in the form of "chanted metrical hymns known as 'kontakia,' consisting of an introduction and a series of stanzas punctuated by a refrain."
"Faith is love," commented Benedict XVI, "and so it creates poetry and music. Faith is joy, and so it creates beauty."
Eighty-nine "kontakia" are attributed to Romanus, although tradition says he composed a thousand, recalled the Pope. He added that they "testify to the rich theological, liturgical and devotional content of the hymnography of that time."
The Pontiff added, "Romanus was not only an eminent witness of the religious sentiment of his day, but also of a lively and original method of catechesis.
"Through his compositions we can see the creativity of this form of catechesis, of the creativity of the theological thought, of the aesthetic and the sacred hymnography of the era."
"Palpitating humanity, arduous faith and profound humility pervade the songs of Romanus the Melodist," continued the Holy Father. "This great poet and composer reminds us of the entire treasure of Christian culture, born of faith, born of the heart that has found Christ, the Son of God.
"From this contact of the heart with the truth that is love, culture is born, the entire great Christian culture. And if the faith continues to live, this cultural inheritance will not die, but rather it will continue to live and be current."
Benedict XVI affirmed that icons, medieval cathedrals and the music of Gregorian chant, Bach and Mozart are not things of the past.
"If faith is alive," he said, "Christian culture will never be 'outdated' but rather will remain alive and current."
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