Music Revealing the Catholic Sacraments


Music is the universal language of the liturgy, and the liturgy contains, mystically, the whole faith and its mysteries. Therefore, music, in its nature, should as well, since it is the ultimate language of the liturgy.

Western Music is not arbitrary but is derived from rigorously applying a particular elements of the law of harmonics, which is itself natural. Any key has seven total notes, and, at various points, five additional notes of imperfection that are not in the key partition the seven.

The sacramental life journey of the married deacon, someone who will eventually receive all seven sacraments, and from birth to death with the roman rite order of the seven sacraments in between is like a scale of descending joy. It is joyful because renewal by God in grace, through the very sacraments, is joyful and brings happiness, but it is descending, since PHYSICALLY, the deacon is going down toward illness and death.

Five sacraments require a priest or bishop [Confession, Confirmation, Eucharist, Holy Orders, Anointing], and two do not [Baptism and Marriage].

When we lay the sacramental journey out as the common sense resolving, descending scale of joy, using the key of C on the piano for ease of visualizing, the scale perfectly ordinates the five imperfect notes, or blacks: every white key following a black is a Sacrament that requires a priest, implying one must “traverse an imperfect medium [note, black key]” to get to the next sacraments, noting that a priest is in fact an imperfect mediator of grace, being a sinner. The other two sacraments, or notes, do not have black key before it, indicating no priest necessary.

Music, the Universal Language

Music is the ultimate language of the liturgy, and therefore should be the ultimate language for humanity. It is numeric, complex, and intertwined with emotions, and so, like letters of an alphabet, the notes can convey any experience whatsoever in a manner transcendent to any other vehicle or medium.

Music, the Ultimate Language of the Liturgy

But, it is also said by Holy Father Emeritus Benedict, where he himself echoes oceans of mystics, that the entire faith is summed up in the liturgy. But then, if the liturgy is the supreme image of the faith, and music is the ultimate transcendent language of the liturgy, then it follows, quite probably, that the whole of the essential dimensions of faith should be somehow mystically veiled in essential, natural music.

I have probed these questions and found, at a bare minimum, unbelievable analogies in the basic, natural, Western Music, that indeed summarize the near total essential dimensions of our faith.

Now, we don’t have time for an exhaustive treatment of all dimensions, suffice it to say, I will summarize the first three dimensions briefly and then show one of them, effectively the final one, in all its unbelievable coincidences (?!) of Catholic theology: the sacramental life.

Western Music Structure 101

Before we start the summaries, a word about music: let us look at basic laws of Western Music so that we have a frame of reference.

The The Nature of a Song is Independent of the Key

In particular, Western Music has a total of twelve notes. A key, as it is called, is a point of reference for a song that bases it in a particular spectrum. The key is arbitrary with regards to the intrinsic nature of a song, since what makes a song a song, for all practical purposes, are the chord progressions and technical improvisation relative to the base note of the key. For, since there are twelve total notes, the same song could be vertically shifted from one key to another, up or down, without changing the relative nature. You would play the same ideas, just at a higher or lower base pitch. The Key is Seven Total Notes

Moreover, any key has seven total notes related to it, including the base note of the key. These notes are, in a certain sense, basic and pure. They all “fit beautifully.” There are no real complexities. Moreover, if you traverse the seven notes starting at the base key and then, after the seventh note, continue to the eighth, this eighth step is actually the first note of the key only one “octave” higher. The simplest example of a pure key scale from common folk is

do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.

The Octave Returns us to the First Note

See, then, the eighth note is “do”, like the first, only at a much higher pitch. Yet, you have returned to where you were before. This is exactly like the days of the week. We go through seven days, and when we reach the eighth day, we return to the first. We will probe this momentarily as concerns the great ages of God’s Plan in human history.

The Other Five Notes Besides the Key’s Pure Notes are Imperfect

We have mentioned the seven pure notes of the key. There are twelve total notes, so five are obviously left over for any key. The other five notes left over, of the twelve, are effectively sharp or flat to particular pure notes in the key. They don’t quite “fit”. They are, if not used creatively and intelligently, effectively, at least somewhat, “discordant”. In fact, based on this observation, we can say they are “imperfect”. We will also probe this later.

Piano Key of C is Best Visible Illustration of Nature of Western Music

Additionally, as a structure of illustration, for the ease of reference to these analogies, we will use what is more or less the best illustrative instrument, the piano, and, in particular, the key that is most appropriate for visual and the same structural example, the key of C. We all probably know that a piano has white and black keys across it is various arrangements that repeat after the octave. The reason we will use key of C is because the seven unique notes of the key of C are all of the white keys and ONLY the white keys, leaving the five black keys to be the imperfect, or sharp and flat notes. Hence, this is the best way to illustrate our analogies.

Now, some over-educated persons think that music is relativistic, meaning, there is no objective NATURAL music. This is not true. They argue, how do we know that what we are doing in partitioning the music period in this way is not actually just a cultural tradition that is not based in logic or rigor? For example, some other cultures besides the west, partition the period in different ways. For the explanation that Western Music is natural and builds on the basic natural law of harmonics, see this article, so we do not get sidetracked:

Western Music Structure is Not Relativistic but Objective and Natural

Now that we know that Western Music is not an arbitrary partitioning of the musical period and that, therefore, is based on natural law, we have argumentation that God could have instituted this thus as a means to communicate Divine mysteries. We shall now show that at least in circumstance, several simple but profound analogies of the music nature perfectly image Catholic doctrine.

The first one we can briefly reference is the musical analogy of the major ages of human history in God’s Plan according to the Days of Creation model.

The Days of Creation and the Octave as Image of the Great Ages of God’s Plan in History

Since this article is about the Sacraments, we will only summarize here. For full reference, see this article:

Music Revealing the Greater Ages of History

For now, suffice it to say that from apocalyptic theology, human history will have eight total ages of renewal from the Fall in the beginning all the way to the Second Coming and New Creation, inclusive. The eight phases of history each contain a nature like the earthly day: first part darkness, second part light, as in “evening came, and morning followed, the first day, the second day, etc...”. The analogous phases of the history are then more precisely first part spiritual darkness, or sin, then second part spiritual light, or redemption. The two scales of music that are immediate are the octave-ascending-joy scale, that is, from C up to C (remember we are using key of C on the piano for reference or clarity), imaging the great phases of redemption, and octave-descending-sorrow scale, or from Am down to Am, imaging the great phases of sin.

The primary amazing analogy is that just as the eight DAY in the week RETURNS one to the FIRST, and just as, likewise, the eighth NOTE returns one to the first via the OCTAVE, so humanity, as it were, in the final, that is, eighth, great phase of history, returns its condition to the first. More specifically, the first age of man is the Fall and the Wickedness of Noah’s Day (darkness), followed by the Flood (light), and the final, that is, eighth, age is the Great Apostasy at the end of the world, followed by the Second Coming and Eternal, New Creation. The parallels are immediate and even suggested by Christ (see the Christological Apocalypse, “as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man”) and St Peter (see 2 Peter 3, where St Peter compares the world at the beginning, wicked and destroyed by water, with the world at the end, wicked and destroyed by fire, and even possibly implying the Creation day analogy with the perennial quote, “do not forget this, with the Lord a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day”). Put more succinctly, the world in Noah’s day is nearly totally wicked, sparing a remnant. Similarly, in the great apostasy, man is nearly totally wicked, sparing a portion of Gentiles and most Jews. In the beginning the world is destroyed by water, at the end, by fire.

This is what we shall mention for now. Let us move on to deeper, more complex scales.

The Ironic Scales

Well, so far we have dealt with two appropriate scales: ascending joy and descending sorrow. What about mixed scales, or with seemingly opposite characteristics, that is:

Joyful but DESCENDING, and
Ascending but SORROWFUL

These are effectively counter-intuitive: we would think of JOY as ASCENDING, not DESCENDING, and of sorrow as DESCENDING, not ASCENDING.

Here, I will appeal to both the irony and complexity of the five imperfect notes, for note, the octave scales of the greater ages just covered above did not make reference or use of the imperfect notes.

Too, we can now ask, what might these ironic scales symbolize? Well, so far, we have the great ages of salvation history, which are quite general. Specificity, then, would need to enter into the depth of the Gospel and therefore the Church. Here, there are two great dimensions of the Church that fairly summarize the whole faith, correlated to the two faculties of soul: Intellect and Will, or TRUTH and GRACE. The Church promulgates the truth through Her Sources of Truth, and Grace, which is essential to be able to please God, is supremely available and manifest in the SACRAMENTS.

In this writing, I only intend to discuss the sacramental analogy, but for reference, let me briefly mention the truth analogy:

The Ironic Scale of Ascending Sorrow: the Illuminative Way of the Church

The Church Ascends in Knowledge but is Sad Because of Heretical Resistance

The way of illumination in the Church, her doctrinal development of the many centuries till now, fits ascending sorrow. How? Because, in Her illuminative way, she is ASCENDING in truth and intimacy of mystery with God. BUT, it is SORROWFUL, since desolations occur repeatedly at each step of development as heretics and sinner reject her wisdom thus increased, leading up to the supreme desolation, the dark night of the soul, when all seems lost. The five notes of discord can then be the five great sources of truth, sources of DISCORD between the Church and those who leave her because of the source, in her 1700 year journey till now:

God, the Trinity and Incarnation
The Supreme Apostolic Successor, the Papacy
The General Apostolic Succession and Oral Tradition
The Written Tradition, Scripture

The scale will be Am up to Am, although starting with B, with each black key representing a source of discord, with the white keys as the phases of attack on respective sources, and with each source of discord preceding the phases of attack on that source (three sources have only one phase of attack, a phase that fully attacks the source, whereas the other two sources have two phases of attack, one first in part, then one in full).

This means twelve total notes when we include the black keys. In the article we will reference below, we will see the parable of the laborers corroborates this analogy: There are twelve hours in the day, like twelve notes. In this day of history, the Church is “laboring” through God’s grace in Her to “work out the implications of the Deposit of faith” against heretics and sinners. Just as there are five notes of discord, or sources of truth, so the laborers are sent out at five different times in the day. Finally, the exact hours they are sent out end up always being adjacent to a note of discord, either to the immediate left or right, if we simply map the hours of the day to the twelve notes.

For more reference, an article will be forthcoming:

Catholic Doctrinal History Imaged in the Pyramid and Apocalypse

The Ironic Scale of Descending Joy: the Sacramental Life of the Married Deacon

If ascending sorrow is ecclesiological truth, then descending joy will predictably become ecclesiological grace, or the sacraments. How might the scale work here? Well, first if all sacraments are to be traversed, we would expect the trajectory to involve a rare person that does receive all sacraments in their lifetime, namely a married priest or deacon. In this regard, the scale will be just that, the sacramental steps of the life of the married man who will be ordained.

It should be mentioned here that in order for the analogy to completely work, we must add two steps to the life that are not technically sacramental, but of obvious necessity for any human creature: natural birth and death.

The Married Deacon has Joy from Sacraments but he is Descending toward Death

The life of the married deacon, then, from birth to death and with sacraments in Roman order in between, is like a descending scale of happiness. It is happy, because the deacon is growing in holiness, for grace of the sacraments is joy, but it is descending because physically, he is descending toward frailty and death. Here, the scale is again the white keys of C, which each white key a step in the sequence. What might the five imperfect notes be? Well, five times, the deacon will have to pass through a priest to get to a sacrament, as through a medium, an imperfect medium, since priests are sinners. This is because five sacraments absolutely require a priest or bishop to confer: Confession, Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Anointing. Two times [Baptism and Marriage], he does not need to pass through a priest to get to the next sacramental step. This is for two reasons: Anyone may baptize, not just a priest. Secondly, in Marriage, the priest does not confer the Sacrament. Rather, the man and woman confer it upon each other, first, through their vows, and then through the consummation.

Black Keys as Imperfect Mediums b/ White Keys; Priests as Imperfect Mediums of the Sacraments

So, again, if we have key of C on piano, the white keys are the pure notes of the key, and the black keys are the sharps or flats, the imperfect notes. Then (see main picture at top of article) if C denotes natural birth, B, Baptism, A Confession, etc, down to the lower octave C Unction, and the final B death, then every time you are about to go to a sacrament that absolutely requires a priest, a black key has to be traversed, and every time the sacrament or step does not require a priest, you don't have to pass through a black key.

Follow the Diagram and see for yourself: there are three places where two white keys are consecutive without an intervening black key:

  1. C to B, since between natural birth and Baptism, a priest is not necessary
  2. F to E, since between Confirmation and Marriage, no priest is necessary
  3. C to B [lower octave] , since between Unction and Death, no priest is necessary

And, on the counterpart, note that every one of the five sacrament keys that require a priest are preceded by a black key:

  1. A, Confession, preceded by A# [B♭]
  2. G, Eucharist, preceded by G# [A♭]
  3. F, Confirmation, preceded by F#
  4. D, Holy Orders, preceded by D# [E♭]
  5. C, Unction, preceded by C# [D♭]

Remember, these notes are all essential, or natural, rigorous music, so this arrangement is not just arbitrary visually but intrinsic to the very scale itself, meaning, in ANY key, regardless of what notation be used, these arithmetic relationships would still exist!


Sanctifying Grace Already a Taste of Heaven

Now, for an incredible final analogy! We know mystically that sanctifying grace is already a foretaste of heaven. Why? Because sanctifying grace is a very created participation in the Divine Life and Love of the Trinity, which will be the prima causa of all happiness in heaven. Heaven is Heaven because of Divine Love. From here, I argue that the minimal steps that give grace would imply all the other steps that remain in heaven! More specifically, I argue that if we take the minimal notes in the scale above to have sanctifying grace, then if we “follow the full implications of those notes”, we will get all sacramental phases that will persist in heaven, whether literally or in principle. Sound crazy, well come and see!

Well, first, what notes are the minimum to get sanctifying grace? Well, the only sacrament necessary for salvation, and the sacrament that must be first, is Baptism. Hence Baptism is the minimal note. HOWEVER, in order to be Baptized, one must first EXIST, or be BORN naturally, hence, Baptism precludes natural birth. So the first two notes are the necessary notes for sanctifying grace.

Now do we “follow the full implications of those notes”? Common sense: CHORDS! And that, I argue, would be the fullest natural chord in the key, no more, no less! What, then, are the MINIMAL FULL chords of Natural Birth and Baptism? Well this is the full natural chords of C and B in key of C. As it stands, from basic music, such chords are CGE and BFD. More specifically, the minimal but full chord of C is, going from descent: C G E, and the minimal chord of B, in the key of C, but full, is a step over: B F D

Hence, the full set of notes implied by natural birth and Baptism are:



These steps are:

  • C: Natural Birth
  • G: Eucharist
  • E: Marriage

  • B: Baptism, Supernatural Birth
  • F: Confirmation
  • D: Holy Orders

The steps NOT implied are:

  • A: Confession
  • C: Anointing of Sick [lower octave C]
  • B: Natural Death [lower octave B]

Well, what do we have? We have that the six notes implied above are in fact the very, and ONLY, Sacramental aspects that WILL persist in HEAVEN, either literally or by principle! The article is below, which we will summarize:

One Body, Many Parts, the Finger Parts as Sacraments

First, let us take the case of the steps that do NOT remain in heaven, but which will haunt hell:

Three Sacramental Signs shall never be again in heaven

So, we have the three notes not implied by sanctifying grace in our musical analogy: the Healing sacraments, Confession and Anointing of the Sick, and Death. It is interesting to note that, indeed, these three aspects of earthly life will never exist in heaven and even the only steps above that will never exist in heaven.

Confession: There shall never be sin in heaven ever, nor is there penance or healing to do, since we will have been utterly purged and utterly made selfless, either on earth or in purgatory.

Anointing of the Sick: Every tear shall be wiped away; there is no more suffering in the heaven, nor need for healing, nor to be strengthened to bear suffering.

Natural Death: though we will have to die naturally, our soul first shall partake of the beautiful life that shall never end, and then, at the end of time, our body also: “And death and the netherworld were cast into the lake of fire.”

Moreover, the implications of these negative elements of earthly life will persist in hell forever:

The Three Sacramental Signs forever in Deprivation

Confession: You had a chance at Mercy in Confession, but you threw it away at all impasses. Now you will forever sin, and never have possibility for mercy.

Anointing of the Sick: You thought earthly pains should be avoided at all costs and shunned the last chance at mercy; now forever, again, there shall be no more chance of mercy, nor shall there be healing for sickness. The torments of hell last forever and there is no cure.

Natural Death: Not only have you died naturally, but eternally you have died spiritually, forever to die, the second death (Apocalypse 20)!

But the other six signs WILL remain in principle forever in heaven!

Six Sacramental Signs will Remain Forever

Natural life: Forever will we live, even supernaturally.

Baptism: Forever will we be children of God, forever will we continue to know and love God, the Baptismal Disposition.

Confirmation: Forever will we be a mature member of the Church, sealed with the Spirit, the indelible mark of the Gifts of the Spirit on our Soul.

Eucharist: Forever shall we commune with our brothers and sisters, forever shall we feast on God's truth and love and one another's love, forever will the eternal Sabbath last.

Marriage: Forever will we be spouses of the Christ, both individually and collectively, receiving into our inner being the love and truth of God and offering ourselves back to Him in unfathomable ecstasy.

Holy Orders: Forever will be marked a servant of Our God, whether by literal Holy Orders, or by the vocation that God gave us as servants and handmaids: mediating grace as a priest, as a biological father, as a single lay person in his talents and gifts, or too, in the feminine sense, motherly gifts and service, and sisterhood.

Addendum: Ending in Resting Peace

We finally note that the scale actually goes beyond the lower octave, to B. That is, death is not the final C, for that is Unction. Rather, the final note, death, is B. This is profound if only because in music, the chord made from C and B, derivatively in any key, the chord <>maj7, where <> is the base note of the key, is a heavenly, restful chord. It is one of the most peaceful and beautiful, if not THE most peaceful and beautiful. Try it on the piano if you know it, or go to the web and listen to an example. And this is precisely what death does bring us to in salvation, the eternal peaceful rest of Heaven.


The Sacramental analogy is complete: the music is natural and rigorous, not random and relative. So we are dealing with Creation intrinsically designed by God. Secondly, the nature of the scale we have for the sacramental life is descending joy, which is perfectly appropriate for the married deacon: PHYSICALLY, his life DESCENDS toward death, but SPIRITUALLY, he has JOY from the Sacraments, which redeem him, strengthen him, and give him the ever progressive growing in truth and love. Moreover, the very nature of the scale including the notes of imperfection, and when we assume the presumed most wise way to order the Sacraments, by Peter, perfectly delineates the path in terms of imperfect notes transitioning between sacramental steps when the imperfect medium of a priest is required, and totally conveniently leaves these notes absent when a priest is NOT necessary for the succeeding sacrament. Finally, the chords derived from the minimal notes of grace, a taste of heaven, perfectly include only those notes of sacramental signs that shall persist in heaven!