In Western society, music education has been valued since the beginning precisely because, as Plato wrote in the 4th century BC, it penetrates deeply into the mind and takes a most powerful hold on it, and, if education is good, brings and imparts grace and beauty, and if it is bad, the reverse (Republic, 401d). Music has also been at the heart of conversion. It was through the singing of St. APicturembrose, that St. Augustine was converted to the Catholic faith: The voices flowed into mine ears, and the Truth distilled into my heart, whence the affections of my devotion overflowed, and tears ran down (Confessions, IX: 6). Sacred music, in particular, is a powerful tool for teaching the faith. St. Bede records a certain “John, archchanter of the church of the Holy Apostle Peter, and abbot of the monastery of the blessed Martin (of Tours), who was sent to teach the Catholic faith to the English people through music.” Excellent sacred music is important to Catholic education and conversion, because it naturally supports faith and reason, the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio). Catholics ought to take a good look at music, then, and specifically at music in our Catholic schools.

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