Saying Yes

By Melodious Monk

Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of the Annunciation, a feast that once again comes wholly unexpected at this time of year.  In reading the story again, I’m struck by two things.  Firstly, this visit from the angel on this March day, not Christmas, is the moment that God entered our world in the flesh; and secondly, on this day that Mary made her famous “fiat” — but she could have said no.  While I easily glide over both these events, hardly thinking more than, “of course that happened, the angel came and Mary agreed, and that’s wonderful and amazing and we love her for it!”

But I would do well to take a moment this week to ponder the amazing and multi-layered spiritual events that happened on this day.  In his book on saints, Father Alban Butler said this about the feast day: “The world, as heaven had decreed, was not to have a Savior till she had given her consent to the angel’s proposal; she gives it, and behold the power and efficacy of her submissive fiat!”

I see in this statement God giving Mary (and I believe all of us) a choice to say yes.  Not a one time offer, but daily, even many times a day we are given “angels’ proposal’s” or choices.  I tend to forget that in all situations, I have a choice for or against God.  On this feast, Mary’s example reminds us that the Savior will come readily after we say yes.

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Hosanna Filio David!

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Passion. It carries incredible drama and meaning as it announces the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, and sets the stage for all that happens in the ensuing days.

We will be heralded into the service by one of the most famous of all Gregorian chants – Hosanna Filio David! (Hosanna to the Son of David). This introit chant opens with the famous “trumpet call” motive which we have explored over the course of the past few months. In fact, it bears extraordinary resemblance to the chant which opens Christmas morning mass — Puer Natus est (A Boy is Born). The sound of the chant reminds us that Jesus is King. However, its liturgical placement reminds us that this King came as a child and was welcomed into Jerusalem by children as well as adults. I find myself amazed that this chant is able to give us such beautiful parallels, bringing to mind the innocence and humility of the King of Heaven.

Have a blessed Palm Sunday!

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Three Lenten Threads

By Sr. Nun Other

I was listening at our Lauds service today. (I don’t always and am easily lured into thinking and re-thinking my own agenda.) But today, three phrases begged me to listen. From Luke 1, the Benedictus: to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins; the Lenten Reading for Wednesday: Is not our Lord just now ready to bless you? To increase your faith, and love, and patience, and gentleness? (Charles Wesley); and finally, the Collect for the Day: You crown the merits of the saints and pardon sinners when they repent. Lent is power-packed with hope. Salvation, forgiveness, and the freedom to repent, open a corridor to Easter’s joy.

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Embracing Seasons

By Melodious Monk

Our Lord is a seasonal God: He comes, He departs. His faithfulness never changes, but his seasons do.  There are seasons when the tree is green, there are seasons when it is dry, and seasons when, for the life of us, the thing looks dead. Now, does this mean we are serving some capricious God who comes and goes by whim? Or could it be, that it is only through seasons that true growth may come?

Seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, times when the Lord is so real it seems any activity you undertake is a spiritual experience. Seasons of dryness, when things are so bleak that even a plateful of Sinai sand would be considered a feast!

The day must come when every season is taken fairly much the same. That is, you can go forward regardless.  We are all very subject to seasons; yet those seasons are there to make us eventually seasonless. There is only one way you are ever going to learn to triumph over all seasons, and that is to go through each and every season…many times.

Gene Edwards, The Inward Journey

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Chanting by Heart: A Path to Lively Prayer

Just by reading the words “Salve Regina,” many of us have a very familiar and beloved tune begin streaming through our “inner ear” — a sound many of us have known since childhood. Likewise, “O Come Emmanuel” will instantly whisk us inwardly to the time of Advent. If we even begin chanting “Humbly I adore Thee, verity unseen”, we are reminded of Maundy Thursday or the celebration of Eucharist itself.

In current-day language, most people speak of performing “by memory” or “without music.” As I re-read my old notes from classes with Mary Berry, I am struck with her continual references to knowing the chant “by heart.”  “By heart” says something very different than “by memory.” “By heart” implies having something buried deep inside ourselves, something which has truly become part of us and which has become connected not just to our memories, but our emotions and spirit as well. THIS is chanting “by heart” and is one of the greatest joys of chant — to learn and know it so well that it becomes a conduit for prayer as a living conversation, full of spirit and verve!

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An Everyday Question

By Sr. Nun Other

I’ve been thinking about the question Jesus posed to His disciples in Matthew 16:15: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Who do I say Jesus is, not once, but, everyday? Is He the Messiah, Son of God, savior, liberator, and loving friend? Too often I mentally reduce Him to a mini me — selfish, unforgiving, fickle, sometimes present, sometimes not. During the remainder of Lent, I want to listen for His voice and stand in His presence — all that He is and all that I am not.

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A Few More Pieces of Lent

By Melodious Monk

Such grief is not Lent’s goal; But to be led to where God’s glory flashes i For by your holy cross and passion you redeemed the world ii The message of the cross is folly to those who are perishing But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. iii [We] are getting deaf, so that when we find ourselves in trouble, we prefer to listen to the enemies that harry us. But when will spring arrive for us? iv Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears the deceitful face of hope and of despair Where shall the word be found, where will the word Resound? v Yet even now…”Return to me with your whole heart” vi  Make clear, make clear, make clear where truth and light appear! vii

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[i] Percy Dearmer [ii] Good Friday antiphon [iii] 1st Cor. 1:18 [iv] St. Augustine [v] T. S. Eliot [vi] Joel 2:12 [vii] Percy Dearmer

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Lent III: Sounds from Advent and Pentecost!

The Sunday introit for the third week of Lent, Oculi mei semper ad Dominum (I will my eyes always to the Lord) has audible connection to the introit for the 2nd Sunday of Advent (O People of Zion) and the Communion (There came a mighty sound ) for Pentecost.

During this past Advent, we looked at several pieces whose incipits (opening motives) could be likened to a trumpet call. It is a unique sound in the chant repertoire and immediately demands your attention. Further, we looked at how this motive often appeared in chants speaking of the kingship of God.

Advent, Lent, and Pentecost are all seasons of waiting — waiting for the appearance of the Lord, waiting for His action of Resurrection upon our lives, and waiting for the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  Each of these chants speaks of waiting with excitement and expectation. With just a few notes at the opening of these chants, they remind us that we are not waiting on just anything but on God himself, coming to us in so many different ways.

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Any Day Now

By Sr. Nun Other

I portray myself as a negative person. But I’m realizing that in the midst of my negativity, I nurture a constant ember of hope. It remains there, uncrushable and available, with the capacity to eradicate all gloomy inclinations. So I look at crusty, misshapen snow sculptures, bury my feet in frozen slush, stare out dirty windows and think, “Any day now.” A bird will sing, a crocus will emerge, we’ll wash the windows and I’ll smile, because God is in charge. Any day now. He’ll throw a handful of spring in His recipe, then pour it our direction.

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Pieces of Lent

By Melodious Monk

This year, Jesus again walks with us on our Lenten journey.  As we go, I want to try and find new delights of God that I can gather together and take into springtime, with the hopes of understanding a few more aspects of the love of God.  Here are a few nuggets I picked up this week from French writer Leon Bloy.

Freedom is nothing but this: the respect God has for us…

If [God] desires to have us, he must seduce us, for if his Majesty does not please us, we can throw it from our presence, buffet it, scourge it, and crucify it to the applause of the vilest rabble. God will not defend himself with power, but only with his patience and his beauty….

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  (Rev. 3:20)

Suffering! Here then is the key word! Here the solution for every human life on earth! The springboard for every superiority, the sieve for every merit, the infallible criterion for every moral beauty! People absolutely refuse to understand that suffering is needful…Suffering is necessary. It is the backbone, the very essence of moral life. Love is recognized by this sign, and when this sign is lacking, love is but a prostitution of strength or of beauty. I say that someone loves me when that someone consents to suffer through or for me…

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

There is but one sorrow, and that is to have lost the Garden of Delights, and there is but one hope and one desire, to recover it.

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