For November, when we especially remember those who have died, I thought I’d put together some favorite music and writings that have comforted me by way of the arts. Let’s begin with a writing by German Jesuit, Karl Rahner, considered one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the 20th century. He wrote for (or intended to) ordinary Christians. Here is a selection on death….
The great and sad mistake of many people – among them even pious persons – is to imagine that those whom death has taken, leave us. They do not leave us… They remain! Where are they? In darkness? Oh no! It is we who are in darkness. We do not see them, but they see us. Their eyes, radiant with glory, are fixed on our eyes full with tears. Oh, infinite consolation! Though invisible to us, our dead are not absent. I have often reflected upon the surest comfort for those who mourn. It is a firm faith in the real and continual presence of our loved ones; it is the clear and penetrating conviction that death has not destroyed them, nor carried them away. They are not even absent, but living near to us, transfigured: having lost, in their glorious change, no delicacy of their souls, no tenderness of their hearts, no special preference in their affection. On the contrary, they have, in depth and in fervour of devotion, grown large, a hundredfold. Death is, for the good, a translation into light, into power, into love. Those who on earth were only ordinary Christians become perfect; those who were good become sublime.
(On the Theology of Death, Karl Rahner, Herder and Herder, l965.)
After reading this, may I suggest that you listen and watch a half-hour of glorious music and visual art:
The Duruflé Requiem, Op. 9: A Prayer for Our Planet. https://vimeo.com/218763696 (shown below).
The composer has set the Gregorian chant requiem Mass text and music in luxurious harmonies creating a unique masterpiece. This particular YOUTUBE version is accompanied with glorious film of nature and our planet. Some in our community remember the chant funeral Mass from childhood. Others sang it with Shepherd University several years ago.
For something more contemporary, consider Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” from his Requiem. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah Brightman, Paul Miles-Kingston – Pie Jesu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31oAcmBz044 (shown below).
May the angels lead all who have died into paradise.
Elaine Rendler, DMA