Improbably Possible

By Melodious Monk

What if Today,
the Holy Spirit will cleanse in me that which is unclean
water in me that which is dry
heal in me that which is wounded

What if Today,
the Holy Spirit’s fire will bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled
correct what goes astray

What if Today,
by His Grace I am granted the reward of virtue
granted the deliverance of Salvation
and granted eternal Joy

We have available in us a limitless grace that we have no comprehension of its capability.

Therefore Today,
Come Holy Spirit
send forth the Heavenly radiance
of your light.

[Verses slightly modified from an ancient hymn
appointed for feast of Pentecost]

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Our Advocate

Known as the Golden Sequence, Veni, Sancte Spiritus is a stunning chant, sung directly after the Alleluia on the day of Pentecost. It was most likely written by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canturbury in the early 1200’s. The text is an array of attributes of the Holy Spirit, as well as an outpouring of supplications and acknowledgment of our great need for this most gracious Guest. Listen to this prayer sung to the third Member of the Trinity.

Come, Holy Spirit, and send forth by heavenly direction a ray of your light.
Come, father of the poor, come giver of gifts, come light of hearts.

O best comforter, sweet guest of the soul, sweet refreshment.

In labor, rest; in heat, coolness; in tears, solace.

O most blessed light, fill the deepest places of the heart of your faithful.

Without your consent, there is nothing in man, nothing is innocent.

Wash what is soiled, water what is arid, heal what is wounded.

Bend what is rigid, warm what is cold, make straight what is devious.

Give to your faithful, who trust in you, the sevenfold gift.
Give the reward of virtue, give the final end of salvation; give us perennial joy. Amen.

 

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Forward in Faith

By Sr. Nun Other

So far today (and it’s only 8:00 AM) I’ve heard two well-known idioms: going through the motions and one foot in front of the other. I personally like them both and don’t find them negative at all! I like them because they lead somewhere. When we sing the Liturgy of the Hours, it’s really song and motion. We bow to the altar, to one another, sit together, rise together and kneel when we make a mistake. These movements require being in tune (literally and figuratively) with those around us. After the service, I went to Bethany guest House. A sister, newly assigned to work there, told me she was putting one foot in front of the other. She was really saying, “I’m in unfamiliar territory, and not certain of success.” She then handed me a plate of amazing, nut-encrusted sticky rolls to serve. When change comes, we usually struggle. But we can adjust one step at a time, absorbing the new motions, moving forward until our will is aligned with God’s. Then we take the next step and find He was right all along.

The Community of Jesus

Live Generously

By Melodious Monk

In Eugene Peterson’s Idiomatic translation of the Gospel of Matthew, many of Jesus’ words come alive in a somewhat shocking way.  I pause to re-read and re-acknowledge the awesomeness of what Jesus brings us, and the duty that he calls us towards.  Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’  I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love you enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves…If you simply love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal?…”In a word, what I’m sayings is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

I’m slow to listen to Jesus’ call to “Grow up.”  I’d rather nurse old hurts, take jabs at my enemies and not work to give energies of prayer and peace to others, especially those people or circumstances that I would normally shy away from. God desires so much more fulfilment for my life then I can comprehend. After re-reading this whole chapter from Matthew, I’m shockingly aware of how much possibility there is for an outrageously fulfilling, adventurous, and hope-filled life. God offers such a life to us, if we choose to live inside His kingdom.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Ascended 

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him ascend into heaven.”

The Mode 1 Offertory for Thursday’s Ascension contains a melismatic passage on the word “ascend” that is word painting in sound. Its “startling” leaps span an octave, with many thirds and fifths, all sung in a light and floating manner, according to the ancient notation.  One can only imagine the clouds parting and swirling as he rose from their sight.  Listen to this amazing piece, one of the great gems of the Gregorian repertory.

The Community of Jesus

 

The True and Only Vine

By Sr. Nun Other

One of the Sisters suggested I write a blog called “bloom after pruning,” and she even provided a great picture!  She referred, of course, to the parable that portrays Jesus as the True Vine and God the Father as the Vine Dresser. Jesus says in John 15: 1-2, that He’ll remove every branch that bears no fruit, and prune the fruitful branches so that they bear more fruit. It’s a scripture I approach with caution, and not an experience I wait in line for. When one of my irregular branches is trimmed, usually through circumstance, I then have difficulty identifying who I am. I’m like a wibble-wobble toy without a fixed foundation — no idea how or where I’ll land.  Advice to me: keep reading. In subsequent verses, Jesus counsels His branches to (paraphrased), “Abide in me, abide in my love, until your journey is complete. Follow my commandments, as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and if you do, your joy will be complete.” It’s a passage more about relationship than pain–an intertwining of love, obedience, and joy — each dependent on the other — until we become not servants, but friends. So I’d like to modify my friend’s suggestion ever so slightly to say it’s possible to bloom during pruning.

The Community of Jesus

A Gift is Coming

By Melodious Monk

Even a brief watching of the nightly news shows a world in need, and inwardly, we are never far from a spiritual battle between our human natures and God’s divine purposes.  Here we are at Ascension, a time when Jesus tried to explain to his closest followers why he had to leave them.  He said, “If I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.”  The word Advocate can be derived from the Greek word Parakletos, also phrased as “one called alongside.” Or, as the NIV translates the word, “one who speaks in our defense.”  I forget regularly that Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, our advocate, to help, to comfort, and to defend us.  As the season of Easter is fading away, we have a great gift coming from Jesus. A gift I want to learn more about. In moments of need, I want to learn to gain strength and trust by following this Advocate’s counsel.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Son

By Sr. Fidelis

Transition 

Easter 6 marks a significant transitional time in our Paschal journey.  Up until now, we’ve been in a wonderful “cocoon” of intimacy with the Risen Christ, and all the ways he’s made himself known to us — in the breaking of bread, in him as the good shepherd, and true vine.

But now, all the texts for both the Divine Office and Eucharist point to his imminent departure and the promise of the Holy Spirit’s coming. He is preparing us for the future, and what we are truly called to.

The text chosen for this year’s liturgical cycle in both the Alleluia and the Communion is:  I myself have chosen you out of the world, that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain.

The connection is so clear.  We cannot do this without abiding in him for sustenance, comfort and life itself.

The Community of Jesus

 

In Light Of

By Sr. Nun Other
During our weekly Liturgy of the Hours, we encounter these words from Psalm 36: In Your light, we see light. It occurs to me that my light — in and of itself — is based on me. I transfuse advice with my experiences, my opinions, and unfortunately, my agenda. God’s light is a burst of life, clear and transparent, that transmits a spectrum of multifaceted color. When I’m tempted to speak too quickly, I need to focus through the prism of God’s love. In Your light, we see light. This one, wonderful sentence tucked in the middle of a Psalm, makes all the difference.

The Community of Jesus

 

A Need to Stretch

By Melodious Monk

I’m too small to understand much about God.  Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to ponder over a sermon from the 14th century.  Father John Tauler was a Dominican priest who taught that the way to union or friendship with God was through detachment from earthly matters. He said, “To be guided by one’s own light and not by God’s is the chief cause of our not attaining to union with God. There is an overmastering joy in self-guidance, even in spiritual matters; nature is intoxicated by this pleasure more than by any other; and withal, it is deceitful, and its hurtfulness too often remains hidden.”

I certainly strive to guide myself! I like to do things, to accomplish things, and to have things somewhat organized — not without change and variety mind you, for without could be boring and uninteresting! But I’d still rather have some foreknowledge of what’s coming so as to be prepared. And I do find joy in guiding myself through things…but at what cost?  Did my drive to accomplish a job today, even a job that may have been God’s will, cause me to miss being with Christ today?  And in the process of organizing and making the job happen, did I run over blessings God had intended for me or someone else, all in the name of finishing a “worthy” task?

“God’s friends are afflicted to the marrow of their bones as they see and hear the injury done to God and the harm to immortal souls by people’s affection for creatures, which is all too prevalent around them.”  I find this thought somewhat humorous when juxtaposed to the goal of loving ones neighbor, but nonetheless true. Our “affection for creatures” is very high, and takes a number of subtle forms, working hard, working for the joy of accomplishment, of self-worth, or looking for praise.  In getting this temporary joy and praise from other creatures, I find myself continually striving for more of this unrequited goal, pushing aside people and events that seem like interruptions.  I don’t stretch to think or pray about the hidden hurtfulness that this selfishness can cause.  I’m much too small to realize that God is in anything that comes into my day, yes, truly everything. He may be asking me to do more, or He may be sitting on the side of the road wishing I’d stop and sit with him a while.

The Community of Jesus