Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Fruits of the earth

Tuesday’s Vespers hymn at the Community of Jesus reminds us of the third day of Creation, where God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:9, 11).

Clothed in poetic imagery, this hymn reminds us that all the beauty that surrounds us came from the hand of God, and was always His intent to bless us. The texts to these hymns can easily be used as prayers of gratitude and repentance!

O great creator of the earth, you who delivering the land from the troublesome beating of the water, have given the immovable earth,

That, bringing forth suitable bud, beautiful things in golden-colored flowers, it might present rich things as fruit, and render pleasant food.

Cleanse the wounds of a scorched soul with the freshness of grace, that it may wash away its deeds with tears, and destroy wrong impulses.

Let it comply with your commands; may it approach no evil; let it rejoice to be filled with good things, and never know the work of death.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age. Amen.
The Community of Jesus

Free and Clear

By Sr. Nun Other

There’s a once popular song called On a Clear Day, whose words read in part:

On a clear day, rise and look around you
And you’ll see who you are.
You can hear from far and near
A word you’ve never heard before.
And on a clear day, on a clear day
You can see forever, and ever (etc.)

We’ve all experienced such days, when the sun defines and illumines all within its touch.The beauty and simplicity encourage, renew energy, and lift me from a negative fascination with problems.

I was thinking about this and a correlating scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:12,  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 

To view life clear of judgments, opinions, fluctuating emotions, and past misfortunes is a freedom well worth pursuing.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Weekday Vespers Hymns

Last week we looked at Lauds hymns and discussed the fact that throughout the week, light, dawn, and the dispelling of darkness are the themes throughout.

The Vespers hymns, however, mirror the days of creation from Genesis, Chapter 1.  The texts of these hymns are attributed to Gregory the Great (d. 604).  Each one is a poetic masterpiece of 5 verses.  The first several verses always make reference to that particular day of creation, while the ensuing two verses are a supplication of needs for the soul.

The final verse is always a final prayer to the members of the Trinity.

Monday, traditionally thought of as the 2nd day of the week, mirrors this theme in the Vespers hymn, which speaks of Day 2 of Creation; the separating of waters above and below the skies.

O immense author of the heaven, you who divide the mingled streams of water so that they would not be confused, you gave the sky as a limit,

Establishing a place for the heavens, and likewise for the rivers of the earth, so that water might temper the flames, and that it might not scatter the soil of the earth.

Pour into us now, O most loving One, the gift of eternal grace:  so that, by the misfortunes of some new deception, the old error may not destroy us.

Let faith find light, so may it show forth the radiance of the light;  let it deter all these vain things, and let nothing false suppress it.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

Tools of the Trade

By Sr. Nun Other

I have great admiration for those who fix broken things. Carrying a metal box filled with mysterious objects, they arrive prepared for any task. The Psalmist speaks of a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart, sacrifices that God finds acceptable. We’re also assured the Lord is near the broken hearted and delivers those who are discouraged (some translations say “crushed in spirit.”) So then, what’s in His tool box? I suggest the following:

Hymns of recollection and hope
Scriptures that inspire
A small prayer answered
Visual beauty
A moment of solitude
A friendly interaction
A change in direction

We’re surrounded by God’s intervention. He’s in the repair business, eager to make us whole, and waits for us to recognize His presence.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Splendor Paternae Gloriae

The Office of Lauds, traditionally sung at dawn, is filled throughout with references to both the light and the “Light.”  We take for granted that we can have light today at the flip of a switch, while in earlier centuries, they were dependent upon the light of day, and were attuned to the sun’s rising and setting, and the spiritual significance of these natural events.  The Monday hymn for Lauds is filled with symbolic imagery.  It is a power-packed prayer text to begin a day.

O splendor of the Father’s glory, bringing forth light from light,
light of Light, and fountain of light, O Day, illuminating the day:

O true Sun, descend, sparkling with uninterrupted brightness;
O radiance of the Holy Spirit, pour in upon our senses.

Let us also call upon the Father with vows, the Father of perennial glory,
the Father of powerful grace, that he may remove the impure fault.

May he inspire steadfast acts; may he blunt the teeth of the envious;
may he direct favorably harsh situations; may he give grace to those who are bearing them.

May he govern and rule the mind in a chaste, faithful body;
let faith burn with zeal, may it not know the poisons of deceit.

Let Christ be food to us, let faith be our drink;
joyful, let us drink the sober intoxication of the Spirit.

May this day pass joyfully:  let modesty be as the dawn,
faith as the noonday;  let the spirit not know dusk.

Dawn carries on its course;  let the dawn go forward to every thing;
all the Son is in the Father, and all the Father is in the Word.  Amen   

                                                                                         Ambrose of Milan

The Community of Jesus

 

 

Abide Not Hide

By Sr. Nun Other

I love when the Holy Spirit brings new understanding to a familiar scripture. This week, I found inspiration in words from Psalm 11 — In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings.” I think of my many mountains. Some are actual objects, like ice cream in the freezer, a good book, or newspaper where the news is worse than my own. But more often, it’s an inward mountain of my own construction. When I’m anxious, uncomfortable, hurt, or ashamed, I’m adept at remaining physically present, but emotionally far away. It takes courage to say (and mean it), “In the Lord I take refuge.” It requires standing firm while the enemy within tells you it’s safer to head for the shadows. Why choose a lonely place, when life and healing are a simple prayer away?

The Community of Jesus

 

Creative Impulse

By Melodious Monk

Realization of our wonderful life in the Holy Ghost also rests on our trust. Despite our indwelling Spirit we often feel tired and frightened and disheartened because we do not trust the Spirit of God sufficiently for him to be able to make something of us. We believe more in our own unworthiness than in the creative impulse of God. -Alfred Delp, SJ

I’m still both shocked and awed by the truths in this statement. Of course, put very plainly, God is the creator. He put all of us into being, and has shown he can use whatever and whomever to accomplish his purposes. But, I still so quickly succumb to hopelessness when I feel incapable or “unworthy.”

In a short writing about Father Delp’s life, Thomas Merton gives a generalized insight on why modern man can be so spiritually blind.

Merton writes, “It is assumed that we know what is wrong, and that all we lack is zeal and opportunity to fix it: then everything will be right. It is not a question of truth or insight but of power and will, we imagine; we concentrate on ways and means of gaining influence so that we can obtain a hearing for our familiar answers and solutions.”  Isn’t this true?  We think we can fix our problems with more efforts and more hours — but we can’t.

In my daily life I put limits on what God can do. (Of course it’s absurd to think I actually have power over the Almighty, but absurdity doesn’t keep me from still operating out of this premise!) We need God’s Spirit. This indwelling spirit is waiting for us to accept our own incapabilities and burst open our horizons. The Holy Spirit is always creatively fresh and Merton reminds us that we need to be careful about what we may assume, especially towards religious piety. For, “preoccupation with petty or imaginary problems of piety substitutes for the creative unrest of the truly spiritual man.”

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Summer Hymns for Lauds 

The weekday hymn for Lauds has a new text for each day of the week.  The season is indicated by a different tune for winter and summer; but the text remains the same for each day.  Right now we are chanting the summer tune, which we began right after Pentecost.  We will continue to use this tune until after the autumnal equinox toward the end of September, when we will switch to the winter tune.

The Lord’s Day Lauds hymn however has a completely different tune as well as different text for each of the seasons of Ordinary Time.  As one might expect, the text of the summer hymn begins with reference to longer days. It is attributed to Alcuin, who died in 804.

Behold, already the shadow of night is diminishing, the dawn of light is gleaming red:  Let us all keep on with every effort beseeching the Almighty.

May our compassionate God drive away all our anguish, bestow health, and give us by the lovingkindness of the Father, the kingdom of the heavens.

Grant us this, O blessed Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the Holy Spirit, whose glory resounds in all the world.  Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

A Better Choice

By Sr. Nun Other

Our miniature poodle, Liberty, is aptly named. She’s independent and self-determined! Were she a person, I’m quite sure she’d be blunt and opinionated. Because she is diagnosed with iris atrophy which causes eye sensitivity to the sun, we want to keep her happy and healthy on daily walks. One of the Sister’s found sun visors for dogs and ordered a couple. We chose pastel, calico prints, and a sewing sister altered them to fit perfectly. (See picture below.) Liberty’s expression radiates, “Really? You expect me to wear this thing?” She initially tried everything available to remove it: wiggling, head shaking, rubbing her head on the grass. The truth is, the visor makes her walks more enjoyable and her eyes more comfortable and she realizes that. She’s learned to tolerate the humiliation for the “greater good.” Like Liberty, I usually know what I want, but not always what’s best for me. It requires humility to reconcile the difference.

The Community of Jesus

Always Reserved

By Melodious Monk

In the Reservation Chapel
Jesus Waits
He waits for our yes
He waits for us to ask
He hopes we stay.

In the Reservation Chapel
Light comes and light goes
like a mirror of our souls
and Jesus waits
through the darkest night.

In the Reservation Chapel
Morning Sun is never late
it always comes
and Jesus waits
for our hearts to do the same.

The Community of Jesus