The Complexity of Love

By Sr. Nun Other

Christmas decorating is low on my list of favorite activities. Somewhere around a visit to the dentist. My expectations are so high, my desire to create beauty so intense, that I’m certain to disappoint myself. Last night, I placed, replaced, and repositioned three decorative Christmas pillows on a bench. After a half hour of this, I realized there was no perfect that was perfect enough. But my building frustration led to a re-thinking of, “What is it I’m really looking for?”

Anticipation and expectation come with the Christmas territory and are worthy attributes. When rightly directed and defined, they lead to faith, hope, and a joyful reunion with all who gathered on that holiest of nights. They speak of someone achieving great things of which we’re the beneficiaries of inheritance. Candles in the window, trees dressed in light and shining tinsel, evergreen wreaths on doors — all are invitations, our warm welcomes, to the One that truly matters.

The Community of Jesus

Perfect Wine

By Melodious Monk

Striving to be perfect is a crippling way to live. For me it’s a compulsive attempt to cover up all the inadequacies I feel about myself. Being free of this drive is largely why I was drawn to the Christian walk in the first place. But to this day, I find this addiction very difficult to give up. I want life to be black and white. I want there to be a textbook that lists the right ways and the wrong ways to do things — then I can master the text book and get straight A’s!  The problem is that life doesn’t work like a textbook exam. I know it sounds silly, but what may be more silly, is that day after day I fall into the same trap of trying to drive my own life!  That’s a lot of pressure to get straight A’s, and try to stay one step ahead of whatever might be coming next in life.

It can be terrifying to try and follow, to not know the plan ahead, or have all the answers for the next move. But it is also thrilling, exciting, relaxing, and necessary if we want to walk with Jesus. I’m reminded of His words, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.” Let’s not have our arrogance lie to us and tell us we need to be the vine also.  For through His vine, we are offered a taste of the very best wine.

The Community of Jesus

The Forerunner

By Renaissance Girl

John the Baptist astounds me. His entire existence was about Jesus. And not just in the way we endeavor to “live for Jesus” — but literally — all about Him, from the moment John leaped in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (perhaps eager to get started on his task), to the moment he submitted to the will of God and baptized Christ (despite his humble protest that it should be the other way around). He was beheaded at the whim of a girl and her mother, because his message to “prepare” threatened their comfortable existence. Everything he did — wild and confronting as it was — was meant to point to Jesus. And then John quietly stepped aside when He arrived.

I am astounded by this, because this is not how I live at all. But what if I could? What if, instead of seeking accolades myself, I was ALL about Jesus? My prayer as we draw closer to Christmas, is for the grace to become a little more like John the Baptist.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Be anxious about nothing

Yesterday, the beginning of the 3rd week of Advent, has long been known as “Gaudete” or “Rejoicing” Sunday.  The chant introit, Gaudete in Domino (Rejoice in the Lord always), is something of a surprise. Rather than being a boisterous and rousing paean, this chant is quite gentle in comparison to last week’s introit trumpeting the arrival of the King.

This chant remains primarily in the lower part of the mode, save for the word “nihil” (nothing) within the text “Be anxious about nothing.” Also, rather than sweeping up to this high point with a horn-call motive, it is actually reached by a slowly climbing melody from which this highest note springs as the natural climax. What an incredible underscoring of this text which tells us to rejoice in all situations.

Equally important is the humility portrayed in this chant, rising only to its highest point at this blessed command from God to be anxious about nothing. Otherwise, the rejoicing we find here is not so much exuberance as assuredness that God himself is coming.

The Community of Jesus

 

Ponder In Our Hearts

By Sr. Nun Other

Advent is a time to pause and consider, to wait with patience as action builds and events unfold: an angel’s visit, a young woman’s obedience, and a husband’s acceptance; a journey to a hostile city, unwelcome and unprotected; shepherds and choirs of angels, noble kings bearing gifts, and a treacherous king bearing destruction. It’s only Act I and we are witness as a child-king is born into the hands of all mankind.

The Community of Jesus

About Feet

By Melodious Monk

I got to thinking about feet this week.

Way up high in the ceiling of our church I find lots of them. While changing some light bulbs along the wood trusses, I begin to notice some faint, yet clearly distinguishable foot prints high up on the beams. Unknown and unnamed prints left from the original construction of the church. Little did these construction workers know that they would be leaving their lasting footprint in this house.

And I got to thinking about feet – which turned into a series of prayers.  Feet evoke action and choice. As I leave my footprints this day–where are they headed?


‘Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.’
‘He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm’
‘…and(Jesus) began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel’
‘guide our feet into the way of peace’
‘Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. ‘
‘For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling’
‘and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them’
‘I have restrained my feet from every evil way’
‘My steps have held fast to Your paths My feet have not slipped.’
‘..but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair’
‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’

The Community of Jesus

 

When the road takes a sharp turn

By Renaissance Girl

I recently embarked on an adventure. I was starting something new that, actually, made me quite afraid.  It was outside of what seemed logical, and it forced me to ask God at every turn “what do I do?” It took some preparation, and each decision I made felt like I could be making a huge mistake — but it seemed like it was what God was asking, so I tried to do it. I wish I could say that I am familiar with living like this — abandoned to God — but I am not and that made it all the scarier, and yet at the same time, hopeful.

And then, suddenly, just when things were wrapped up, the road took a sharp turn. What I thought I was going to be starting didn’t work out. I find myself asking God what he intended in all of this, and what I should do now. What was the point of the preparation if only to run into a road-block?

I will tell you I don’t have answers yet. What I do know is that every day, every moment, is a choice. A choice to ask the question again and not retreat into anger and disappointment and accusation. A choice to trust, even when “logic” says to be skeptical, because if this didn’t work out, maybe the next thing won’t either. My pride desperately wants to save me from getting excited about something only to see it pass by.

I opened a card yesterday that someone had given me when I was preparing for this adventure. They included a prayer about trust — and in that moment I saw God. He knew I’d need this prayer even more in this moment — when I was most tempted to distrust:

Trust, you say, and so I will.  But at times its thread wears thin, and rubs raw the palms of my hands.  Yet I cling to it, for you have shown that in every circumstance, trust leads to Love eventually. Take the pieces of my life and make them one. Smooth the edges, mold the shapes until, with perfect symmetry, they interlock and become the “me” you long for. I can’t make this “me” puzzle fit, though I often try. Master Craftsman of body, mind, and spirit — let it be so, for I trust in you.”

The Community of Jesus

 

 

The Return of the Trumpet

By Cantor

Two weeks ago, the Introit intonation chant for the feast of Christ in Glory was reminiscent of a trumpet call. Last week, the first week of Advent, the chants sounded full of incredible supplication and beauty.

Now, in the 2nd week of Advent, the “trumpet” intonation returns in the Introit Populus Sion, ecce Dominus veniet et ad salvandos gentes (People of Sion, behold the Lord comes to save the Gentiles.)  This introit, unlike that from last week, is a regal pronouncement, meant to get our attention and give us the answer to the outcry heard in Ad te levavi.

Like many of the chants through the church year, the melodies and the texts of the Advent chants are meant to take us on a journey. The sound of this introit tells us that this is no ordinary person coming to save us, but a person of great power.  Advent presents us with both the human and divine personality of Christ. The sound of Populus Sion leaves no doubt that the King who is coming is God himself.

The Community of Jesus

 

An Advent Search For Quiet Moments

By Sr. Nun Other

Yesterday, I experienced quiet in a room with several people. Each was absorbed in their work, but not isolated from the other. It was an active quiet, and brought to mind my personal Advent reading for the day: Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation. There is no written proof, but traditionally, Mary is pictured alone, in quiet work, when Gabriel appears. The scene unfolds (at least in my mind) in discreet tranquility, in a quiet village in Nazareth, a quiet event, that will one day alter the course of humankind.

The Community of Jesus

Gifts of Service

By Melodious Monk

Jesus comes to us in many ways. In this season, we especially pay attention to Him coming as an infant. And what do infants need?  In short, lots of help — constant care, someone to feed them, keep them warm, and protect them.

I realized something today. I look forward to Advent, to its hope and the expectation of Jesus – for a fresh start, forgetting the past year and moving on with purpose and expectation.  It’s a time to say “yes,” to open my heart and to allow more room for Jesus.  “Come Lord Jesus, quickly come” falls out of my lips as the time-honored mantra of the season.

I learned something else today. Underneath my hope, need, and expectation for God to come, to save, and to heal me, what I’m really asking (even demanding) is to be given these gifts. I don’t really want to serve this infant King; I just want him to do what I fervently ask!

And yet Jesus comes to us as a needy infant. I can only imagine the time and energy necessary to take care of or “serve” a new-born. This “service” is a full-time commitment. In contemplating the Christ Child during Advent, are Jesus, Mary, and Joseph teaching me how to serve the adult Christ as well?  I’m reminded that God wants a relationship with me. In addition to asking for his help and healing, I also must love and serve him. Then I can expect to be able to walk with him.

The Community of Jesus