“I Am the True Vine”

By Sr. Fidelis
This Week 5 Communion is almost an extension of last week’s, “I am the Good Shepherd.” The opening motive is the same, and again we see the energizing “salicus” no less than 4 times in the first line of the chant!  Last week’s piece was in Mode 2, and this one is Mode 8, but the relationship of the half step is the same in the opening motive.  Here we see it as Ti-Do.
The most “florid” word in the entire chant occurs on the word vera – “true”, almost as if it is “growing”.   The climax is reached at the culmination of the text, “he is the one who produces much fruit” – hic fert fructum multum.  The last two alleluias are unique in that the first one outlines an upward triad belonging to Mode 7 – SOL-TI-RE, then the final one gently descends from DO to LA, to the Hometone SOL.  The “salicus” is again evident in these final alleluias, giving a sense of energy and “growth”.

Ego Sum Vitis Vera

More Than Cliché

By Sr. Nun Other

I wish that I could learn to “leave well enough alone.” It’s a beautiful thing for those who can do it. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I’m the type that must add one more, adjust just a little, and pull the thread that unravels the sleeve. Let’s just say I’ve ruined more than I’ve improved. What to do with me? How do I transform my compulsion to make everything okay?

The Apostle Paul put it this way: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  Philippians 4:6-7

And may I add, if you’re like me, say to thyself, “DON’T TOUCH THE CROOKED PICTURE.”

unravelling_1

Image courtesy of cityexile dot wordpress dot com

I Am the Good Shepherd

By Sr. Fidelis

Yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Eastertide. This theme was found in the Gospel Reading, in the Canticle antiphons for the day, and in the Communion for Eucharist, Ego sum pastor bonus.   
This Mode 2 Chant is simple and energetic— basically two phrases, again punctuated by Alleluias. “I am the good shepherd, and I know my sheep, and mine know me”.

The opening motive is a 3-note neum called the “salicus.” It is an “energy” neum — 3 notes rising to the top one, and in this case the 1st and 2nd notes are on the same pitch, starting on the half-step below the reciting note of FA. This motive is repeated on the word pastor, and on the word bonus as well. The melody rises to its peak on the phrase et cognosco oves meas (“and I know my sheep”), giving a sense of his intimate care and love for each of us, his sheep.

EgoSumPastorBonus

Listen, my child

Listen, my child. I want you to place the ear of your heart on the solid ground of the Master’s wisdom (what I received, I’m passing on to you). This advice is from a spiritual father who loves you and gives you the sort of counsel that will shape your whole life. Listening is hard work, but it’s the essential work. It opens you up to the God that you’ve rejected when you have only listened to yourselves. If you’re ready to give up your addiction to yourself, this message is for you: to listen is to equip yourself with the best resources available to serve the real Master, Christ the Lord.

For starters, begin every good work with this prayer: “Lord, bring it to completion.” Since God is full of goodness and has already called us his children, we shouldn’t grieve him by doing wrong. Instead, we should take advantage of the good gifts God has given us and become good listeners. This way we won’t make God into an “angry father” or a “harsh task master” who punishes us for not following him to glory.

So, let’s go! The Scriptures are stirring us, like fire in our bones: It is high time now for you to wake from sleep (Romans 13:11b). Let’s open our eyes wide to the light that shines out from God, and open our ears to the voice from heaven that shouts out every day: O that today you would hearken to his voice! (Psalm 95:7b). And, again: You who have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7). What does the Spirit say? Come, children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Psalm 34:11). Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness [of death] overtake you ( John 12:35).

A Contemporary Paraphrase of the Rule of St. Benedict by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Paraclete Press)

Seeing the Signs

By Sr. Fidelis

Many of the chants for this season re-tell various “scenes” from the Easter story. This is a wonderful way for us to rehearse the true miracle of Jesus’ Resurrection! The antiphon Maria Stabat reminds us that Mary stood at the sepulcher weeping and saw two angels in white sitting, and the cloth that was on Jesus’ head. The story goes no further in this Mode VII antiphon, but there is a sense of anticipation and joy and the bloom of hope is conveyed with each consecutive phrase!
The opening phrase begins with an ascent from its Home Tone SOL, to its Reciting Tone, RE, and then back again to SOL. The repeated note pattern on the text Angelos in albis, sedentes builds with excitement! For the most part this is a syllabic chant save one word, fuerat. Here the lingering emphasis reminds us that this was the cloth that was on Jesus’ head.
There’s much food for thought in these seemingly simple chants!

MariaStabat

Be not unbelieving…

By Sr. Fidelis

The Communion for the 2nd Week of Easter comes from the Gospel of John – Jesus’ words to Thomas.

“Thrust your hand and know the place of the nails, and be not unbelieving but faithful.” is the literal translation.

There is a wonderful sense of conversation in this serene Mode 6 chant; two syllabic phrases punctuated with Alleluias.

The structural notes of LA (reciting tone) and FA (home tone) serve as the “backbone” of the piece.

One of the beauties of this simple chant is the actual Latin text.  Jesus tells Thomas to thrust his hand and know the place of the nails….not just see them, or touch them, but know them.

The original notation highlights the text in several spots.  In the opening line, there is a 3 note neum called a “torculus”, (low-high-low) on the last syllable of the word tuam. The shape of this neum indicates that there is more emphasis on the 2nd and 3rd notes, rather than them all being even.   This is called a “special” torculus, and gives a sense of lift to the word.  On the final line of the chant, we see this same sign on the accented syllable of the word fidelis, and in the final alleluia, only this time, it looks angular.  This tells us to emphasize all 3 syllables of the word.  You will hear these subtleties, which add points of interest and arrival in the overall scope of the chant.

Mitte Manum

Officially Next Year

By Sr. Nun Other

Baseball season opening day. Defined by colorful uniforms against green grass. Flags unfurled and the Star Spangled Banner sung by someone famous or a regular person deserving a chance. A Blue Angel flyover, and the two best words in all of baseball, “Play Ball!”

And right there, lurking in the background, are the naysayers. They’ve already predicted the third baseman (who they loved three weeks ago) is a huge mistake, the #2 starting pitcher will breakdown mid-season, and at best, your team (fill in the blank) might have a shot at the wild card.

Don’t let them (whoever they are) pick-pocket your hope. They–we–make up stories because really, we don’t know what God intends and just might do. Our job is to hope, believe, anticipate and participate in a well-planned outcome that leads to ultimate good.

Image courtesy of Catholic Trivia Blogspot

Lumen Christi: Easter Encounters with Art

As Christians, the pursuit of beauty in all of its forms is ever before us. While the world’s definition of beauty – a wrinkle-free, almost inhuman imitation of so-called “perfection” – almost always leads to self-abasement and discouragement, true beauty as we seek it only leads to a further knowledge of God’s love for us, to a clearer and brighter reflection of who He is, and to a deeper desire to become co-creators of beauty with him in all the quotidian elements of our lives.

Gabriele Wilpers, an internationally celebrated painter and sculptor from Essen, Germany, knows all about this calling toward beauty, and all of the risks and rewards that accompany that vocation. After training as a photographer, between 1973 and 1978 Gabriele Wilpers studied free painting at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany. Since then she has lived and worked in Essen as a freelance visual artist. In recent years she has taken first prize in competitions for art in the public domain, and she has designed entire church interiors for several parishes in the archidocese of Freiburg im Breisgau. Wilpers uses a variety of artistic methods in her artwork – painting, installation objects, film, and architectural glass – to reflect and describe the human existence. Her interventions in an existing space, which can be both sacred and profane in nature, question the context in which modern man lives today.

Back in July of 2005, Ms. Wilpers was invited by the Munster Chapter of the Catholic Women’s Organization to contribute to the 1200th anniversary of the diocese of Munster. The discovery of a medieval thimble, excavated from the ruins of the Uberwasser Convent, inspired Ms. Wilpers to create an installation for the nearby Uberwasser Gothic church. Entitled “As Numerous as the Stars in the Sky” Ms. Wilpers’ installation was comprised of thousands of thimbles gathered from the women of the diocese, and became a sort of memorial to the myriad, nameless women of Munster through the ages, who faithfully lived out their vocations. Upon entering the church, the viewer’s gaze was immediately drawn upward to a sparkling, starry canopy made up of these now almost meaningless, outdated objects, each suspended from different colored threads, and given new meaning by Ms. Wilpers for this occasion. As one journalist put it, “Each individual thimble—the protector of sensitive fingertips—hence becomes a symbol of that which women have experienced and achieved. They become centuries-old witnesses to female stories and histories, trigger many associations in connection with women’s lives and, taken out of their original context, artfully perform their story-telling role. The sparkling firmament speaks of the hard work of women, of suffering and poverty, but also of joy, and inside the church represents a symbolic space for the histories of uncounted women in the diocese.”[1]

Ms. Wilpers’ installation in the Munster Church was only temporary, but her art has found many other permanent homes, one of which is the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Gabriele Wilpers designed the glass sculpture on the West Wall of the Church of the Transfiguration, connecting the oculus window and lintel (over the main doors) in a seamless design portraying Christ’s Transfiguration. In Wilpers‘ studio at Essen and at the Derix Glasstudios in Taunusstein, Germany, she and glass fabricators collaborated on the modern abstract sculpture. The sculpture features sixty-four individually cast glass panels covered with gold-leaf paint, which was partially removed with an acid wash.The varying intensity of the gold and the pattern of ridges and valleys evoke elements of the reflected light from sunsets over the Cape Cod sand flats and combine to gather, reflect, and refract light, becoming a glistening and shimmering wall of Transfiguration splendor.

This week, artists, art-lovers and all seekers of beauty have an opportunity to encounter and hear from Gabriele Wilpers first-hand here at the Community of Jesus. Lumen Christi: Easter Encounters with Art will be held April 5th through 9th. Ms. Wilpers is joined by Monsignor Timothy Verdon, a renowned Art Historian and prolific author, for this five-day series of illuminating lectures on Easter themes of light, resurrection and rebirth in sacred art. All are invited to come and be inspired by these beautifully illustrated lectures on art and architecture, from the baroque to the contemporary, hosted by the Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre for Art and Spirituality. In a time when so many Christian women and artists suffer from isolation, lack of support and understanding, and a market-driven secular environment, Lumen Christi: Easter Encounters with Art offers an alternate experience of contemplation and creativity, focusing on the artists‘ vital contribution to the faith conversation. For more information visit www.mounttabor.it or call 508-240-7090.

04 Muenster 2005

02 Thimbles 200505 Muenster 2005All photos courtesy of Herbert Wilpers

[1] Frank Joachim Schmitz, Berichte, Das Munster,

GlassWallMarch 2005

The Bells Hang Silently

Bells play a special role this time of year – Holy Week through Easter Sunday. I was never aware of this, as I don’t think many people are, until we put in our own set of change ringing bells. I have always thought of bells in the role of ringing out as a call to worship, as well as news and celebration. But they also have a part to play in silence. Our Maundy Thursday service bulletin had a meditation to ponder on its cover and I was particularly struck by the words “the bells hang silently.” They are not rung from Palm Sunday until the Easter Vigil Saturday night. We have grown used to hearing them every day of the week and suddenly there is silence where there has been joyful “noise.” But even beyond the quiet of the week – no organ as well – it feels that the silent presence of the bells in the tower has a waiting feeling. It enhances my own sense of waiting for the Passion and the Resurrection of our Lord, and enriches the true celebration when once again they ring out with the news of our Salvation.

I Am Risen

By Sr. Fidelis
Amid the glories of Easter, we are compelled to search out the message in this opening Introit of the Resurrection Eucharist.
One of the last anguished cries uttered by Jesus from the cross was: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) And here, at the cusp of the most triumphant holy day in all of Christianity, we hear these words from the Psalmist, in the mouth of Jesus; addressed to his Father, “I rose up and am still with you. You have laid your hand upon me. Your knowledge is become wonderful. Lord, you have proved me and known me: You have known my sitting down, and my rising up.” (Psalm 139) Before the trumpets and streaming banners of this day, we briefly look at the core of Jesus’ complete and utter trust in his Father’s love.
This intimate setting, reflected in the choice of Mode IV, portrays this in such a beautiful way, gently punctuated with Alleluias. It begins low, using one of the oldest intonation patterns of RE to FA. The reciting note of the antiphon is SOL, which again indicates its antiquity. We do not hear the LA until we arrive at the Psalm verse. The whole sense of this sublime chant is a heart-to-heart conversation between a Father and his beloved Son.

Resurrexi