The cantus firmus

There is always a danger of intense love destroying what I might call the ‘polyphony’ of life.  What I mean is that God requires that we should love him eternally with our whole hearts, yet not so as to compromise or diminish our earthly affections, but as a kind of cantus firmus to which the other melodies of life provide the counterpoint.  Where the ground bass is firm and clear, there is nothing to stop the counterpoint from being developed to the utmost of its limits.  Both ground bass and counterpoint are ‘without confusion and yet distinct’, in the words of the Chalcedonian formula, like Christ in his divine and human natures.  Perhaps the importance of polyphony in music lies in the fact that it is a musical reflection of this Christological truth, and that it is therefore an essential element in the Christian life.  Only a polyphony of this kind can give life a wholeness, and at the same time assure us that nothing can go wrong so long as the cantus firmus is kept going.  Please do not fear or hate separation, if it should come…Pin your faith in the cantus firm

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Prisoner for God