Monday, January 19, 2009

A Family Weekend for Pope Benedict: Saturday: Mozart in the Sistine Chapel

Janurary 17th, 2009 -

Mozart's C minor Mass is performed in the Sistine Chapel, by two sopranos, a tenor, and a male choir and orchestra from Regensburg. Listening, and seated side by side, are the two most famous Catholic priest brothers of our times. Ordained on the same day in 1951, they have given over a century's service to Christ in His Church. The soul is mean and parched that would begrudge this gift of the younger to the elder, now almost blind: that brother who directed the choir at the Mass before he left Munich for Rome; and now he has told us, that brother who helps him to accept old age with courage. Georg can no longer see the Michelangelo ceiling and frescoes. And so his brother gives him music as an 85th birthday present, in the very place where nearly four years ago, his own plans for retirement were irrevocably shattered by the will of God.

It's my experience that on musical occasions of high emotion, as this must have been, one remembers one's beginnings, one's formative years, and the frightening bits. Any of us who have read the biography of these brothers will have no difficulty in guessing at least some of what may have run through their minds as they listened to their beloved Mozart. Did Georg remember the war-wound that nearly cost him a limb; did Joseph remember fearing almost certain death as he faced German Officers on the road home towards the end of Hitler's war? Must they not think, as we do, that it could only have been the Providence of God that preserved them both, when the worldly odds seemed so implacably stacked against their survival? The answers to these questions are not our busness. Our business is to thank Almighty God that His will was against their destruction; to thank Him for the mystery of the Ratzinger brothers and their place in His plan.

I rejoice that the cameras were not there to intrude on the intimacy of this family occasion. I exult for both the brothers that they were allowed that precious interlude of privacy. The knowledge that it happened fills me with joy.

(Sources:
Main story -Associated Press;
Details of the Ratzinger war experience - 'Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait, Peter Seewald)

In Christo pro Papa

2 comments:

leutgeb said...

A performance of a Mozart Mass, a very beautiful gift indeed.

Clare A said...

Thank you for this beautiful meditation. I had not thought of the implications of their shared past, and Georg's diminished eyesight. What sacrifices the brothers have made - what unknown graces come to us through their generosity.