Pope's Address after Performance of "Augustinus" in Castel Gandolfo

«This Mosaic Represents the Greatness and Complexity of Augustine the Man and the Theologian»

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, SEPT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address given by Pope Benedict yesterday after a performance of Augustinus, A Mosaic of Sounds, in the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. The opera concert was offered by the diocese of Wurzburg in honor of the Holy Father. The author of the libretto was Professor Winfried Bohm of Wurzburg and was composed by Wilfried Hiller of Monaco.

* * *

Lord Cardinals,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Dear Monsignor Hofmann, Dear Monsignor Scheele,

Distinguished Musicians,

Dear Guests from Wurzburg and Franconia!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The performance of a work on Saint Augustine here at Castel Gandolfo is certainly a unique event. My heartfelt thanks to all those who made this event possible this evening. My particular gratitude goes to you, dear monsignor Hofmann, to the Augustinus Institute and to the diocese of Wurzburg, for the gift you gave me of this concert in the ambit of the International Symposium on Augustine being held at the Augustinianumof Rome. I thank especially the artists – the Maestro di Cappella professor Martin Berger, the soloists, the Chamber Choir of the Cathedral of Wurzburg and all the musicians – for their masterful performance. To all of you from my heart a “Vergelt’s Gott” [May God reward you].

The title of this work on Augustine describes it as a “mosaic of sounds.” Painted impressively in seven musical images, composed in turn by different voices, songs and melodies, was a portrait of Saint Augustine in sounds. It is a mosaic. Some stones shine, according to how the light falls and the point of observation, but only in the whole does the images appear. This mosaic represents the greatness and complexity of Augustine the man and the theologian, which is saved from a classification and a systematization tending to evidence too much only single aspects. Thus this composition tells us that, if we really want to know Augustine, we must never lose sight, while we are occupied with the particular, of the whole of his thought, of his work and of his person.

The timeliness of this great Latin Father of the Church is uninterrupted. This also was demonstrated to us, once again, by the work on Augustine [that we heard]. The seven images made us know the Bishop of Hippo in contemporary musical language. It should be highlighted that they did so without making the main personage himself appear. However, precisely because of his “absence,” Augustine makes himself present and is “timeless.” Man’s struggle and his search for what is most intimate to him, the search for truth, the search for God remains at all times; it does not concern only a rector or teacher of grammar in the lacerations and upheavals of late antiquity, but every man in every time. And thus, at the end of the work, we find the famous introductory words of the Confessions which resounded being muffled in different languages: “Magnus es, Domine, et laudibilsvalde: magna virtus tua et sapientiae tuae non est numerus. … Quaerents enim inveniunt eum et invenientes laudabunt eum.” – “You are great, Lord, and very worthy of praise; great is your virtue and unfathomable your wisdom. … Those will bless the Lord who seek Him, because seeking Him they find Him, and finding Him, they praise Him” (I, 1, 1).

My gratitude goes once again to the promoters of this evening dedicated to the figure of Saint Augustine, to the musicians and to all those who contributed to the realization of this concert. Thank you for your generous offer and precious gift. I also greet all the participants in the International Symposium on Saint Augustine, which is being held these days at the headquarters of the AugustinianumPatristic Institute in Rome. May your congress on the relation between the cultures in De civitate Dei contribute fruitfully to further reflection on the thought of the holy Bishop of Hippo and to recognition of his timeliness for the questions and challenges that present themselves to us today. To all I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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