Myriad Beauty

By Melodious Monk

I saw a wonderful slideshow today that reminded me of how big the body of Christ is around the globe. While in many of our local towns and schools, religion is being pushed to the background, this Easter season it is good to remember that there are millions of Christians in every part of the world who are celebrating the beautiful mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection. Today there are so many streams of traditions, and ways to reverence, honor, and adore this blessed mystery. Traditions ranging from rockets being launched in Greece, to beautiful egg painting in Lithuania and Ukraine, festive Eucharists in Bambari, young boys baptized in St. Peter’s square, new-fires in countless churches, and candles lit everywhere: it’s exciting to see the myriad of ways that the world is once again proclaiming loudly, “Alleluia!!”

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Alleluia

By Renaissance Girl

So much contained in a single word….word made flesh. It strikes me that the Resurrection is like a second Incarnation.  Christ, now bearing the wounds of our sins, after three days again stands among us-visible.

I had the privilege this past weekend to be involved with the chant group for the Triduum services. It brought the text alive in a new way, and no text more so than ‘Alleluia’.  We slipped up behind the altar after one of the scripture readings at the Easter Vigil and turned to face the church. I felt suddenly overwhelmed, there under the mosaic of Christ, with a church full of people robed in white, faces full of expectancy, bells poised to ring…the excitement was palpable.  We burst into the Alleluia chant with it’s rising line and everything burst into song, as creation must have on that morning.  The tower bells joined the sparkle of hand bells and the vigorous chanting of the congregation of ‘Alleluia’, let loose after 40 days of being silenced….and I thought my heart would leap from my chest. He is risen indeed!

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor
 
A joyous Easter to all of you! 
 
Having experienced the Triduum last week, we are now in full celebration of Christ’s Resurrection! And, just as the season has changed, so has the chant! I am always amazed at the Easter Vigil as we sing our first “new” alleluia, each time rising in pitch. Then, at Lauds on Easter Sunday morning, the extraordinary simplicity of the psalm antiphons is overwhelming as they are based on one word – Alleluia!
 
Perhaps, though, most moving is the Alleluia from the Propers for Easter Morning Mass – Alleluia Pascha Nostrum. I know of no other “Alleluia” which soars like this one. I heard Mary Berry describe this work as “sheer Resurrection joy!”  It is truly remarkable that the chant goes through such an audible transformation from Lent, through the Triduum, to Easter. No one could ever mistake these chants for any other time of year!  Again, the chant takes us to this new season and rings clear Christ’s Resurrection!
 
Easter week blog

Spring Easter Salad: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

I wanted to come up with an interesting Easter salad. Something fresh and springy, yellow like sunshine and light green. Suddenly the idea came….an Easter egg salad!

A flavorful deviled egg nested in Boston Bibb lettuce with some tender spring asparagus and avocado, sprinkled with finely chopped chives and crumbled egg yolk…..that’s the look. Then, showered with a Fresh Lemon vinaigrette dressing …that’s the taste. I took a chance and gave it a try…It was a success!

Spring Easter Salad

Deviled Eggs
1 dozen hard boiled eggs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon minced onion or shallot
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper 

Peel the eggs. Using a sharp knife, slice each egg in half, lengthwise. Gently remove the yolk halves and place in a small mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash up the yolks and add mustard, mayonnaise, onion, Tabasco, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spoon egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Sprinkle with paprika, if you wish.
 
Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Thyme
Onion Salt
Pepper
 
In a jar or a bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, thyme, onion salt to taste and pepper. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. Shake or stir before serving.
 
Arrange on individual plates with other ingredients or on a large platter for a buffet table.
 
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Wanting

By Melodious Monk

As we head into the solemn and joyful remembrance of the Paschal mystery, I ask myself, what am I looking for?  Has my Lenten journey taken me to where I’d hoped back on Ash Wednesday?  In a talk about the season of Lent, Cistercian Abbot Basil Pennington offered some insight about Lent’s purpose for us:

“It is a time that we are keeping before us to find out what we really want, what our deepest being is crying out for. It is a time to cut through some of the stuff which we have been grabbing at to try to find some fulfillment, some happiness, some meaning. We realize that any and all has its meaning only to the extent that it is a means of coming to what we really want and what we are really made for.

As we finish the Lenten season, I hope I can let go of more of my own “grabbings,” and  instead allow myself to be grabbed into the ways that God has made me for. May we all find new depth in what we long for, and be showered with a greater amount of divine joy this Easter Morning!

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Friend

By Renaissance Girl 
 
We have been doing more Lectio during Lent. I find recently, when I hear the scriptures in a service, a word or phrase will stick with me and pop up throughout the day.  It’s as though a hundred words have been released like so many butterflies and if I hold still, one or two will land on the outstretched fingers of my mind and I can draw it in for a closer look.
 
Palm Sunday’s gospel reading was the Passion narrative – and this year was a little different — three cantors chanted the reading, one as narrator, one as Jesus, and the third speaking for the disciples and crowd. I don’t know if it was having the words sung that made a difference, or the fact that I was struggling to turn off my thoughts and really hear the words.  And then one word hit me. It was no butterfly, more like an eagle landing with a gust of air. “Friend.”
 
I couldn’t get it out of my head….after three years of living and suffering with and loving this group of men, after celebrating Passover with them knowing what he was about to do, and after watching one of them turn his back and betray him….he turns to this same disciple, Judas Iscariot, and tells him “Friend, do what you are here to do”.  It was like a small firework in my mind that burst into a million sparkles and I couldn’t contain it.
 
Jesus, the Son of God, could have said or done anything. He could have wiped Judas out with a look. I can’t imagine the sorrow he felt and yet he said, “Friend.”  And I thought of how often I approach Jesus with a kiss of betrayal, when I judge someone else, when I outwardly look kind and loving while reserving the right to prefer myself — and I imagined Jesus calling me “Friend” despite it….and it took my breath away.
 
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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Chant in Holy Week: Audible Mystery, Pain, and Love 

There is a vast well of spiritual illumination available through the chants found in Holy Week. As we move from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to his crucifixion and ultimately to his resurrection, the chants for Holy Week also reflect this journey. Many of us are familiar with some of the more well-known chants such as, “Hosanna, Filio David” (Hosanna to the Son of David) chanted during the symbolic entry into Jerusalem, or “Ubi Caritas” (Where true love is) which is chanted during Maundy Thursday Mass — the commemoration of the Last Supper. 
 
However, what I would like to highlight are the Lamentations of Jeremiah. These extraordinary pieces, typically chanted by a soloist and followed by a group responsory during the service of Tenebrae, are part of our Divine Office beginning with Vespers on Maundy Thursday and finishing within the Vigil for Holy Saturday. 
 
The outcries of Jeremiah become the outcries of Christ, and the indescribable grief at the downfall of Jerusalem. But what makes these pieces so unique is that each cantor takes these chants (which can be up to almost 10 minutes in length!) and spends weeks in personal prayer, preparing the lamentation so that he or she is able to chant the piece on behalf of themselves and the entire congregation.
 
In 2007, I was assigned the 8th Lamentation, which occurred during the Holy Saturday Vigil. It was a personally difficult time. As I offered this chant during the vigil, I knew that I was literally being changed as the sound came out of my mouth. Following that service, I remained in the church for several hours — I could not grasp what had just happened. All I knew was that Love itself had just greeted me and changed my life. More than at any other point, I knew that chant would be a part of my life forever.
 
Holy Week Chant Blog
 

Hot Cross Buns: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun
 

Countless stories surround the origin and the history of hot cross buns. Suffice it to say they are eaten as a simple little sweet during Lent after weeks of abstinence and looking towards the crucifixion. It is our tradition to serve them here at the Community of Jesus every Good Friday.

There is one little saying about them that I particularly like. It is said that a bun baked on Good Friday and hung in one’s kitchen will guarantee the success of all baked goods prepared in that kitchen. Worth a try? 

HOT CROSS BUNS

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons softened butter
1 Tablespoon instant powdered milk
1 egg
1 egg white
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried currants
3/4 cup citron
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons milk

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand 10 minutes in mixer until foamy.  Add softened butter, instant powdered milk, egg, egg white. Mix well with dough hook. Add salt and flour only adding enough flour until dough is slightly sticky. Add citron and currants and cinnamon. Continue to add rest of flour until the dough is soft and smooth and not too sticky to handle. You may not need all of your flour. Mix on slow for another 5 minutes – this will knead the dough. Let rise in mixer bowl until double in size. Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.

Shape into 12 balls and place in a greased 9 x 12 inch pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes.

Mix egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Brush on balls.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.

To make crosses: mix together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk. Brush an X on each cooled bun.

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Sacred Language

By Sr Nun Other

Throughout the year, we sing the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin. For me, this ancient language is at its most powerful during Lent. Words such as laceravit (tear to pieces) followed by percussit et curabit nos (bind our wounds) are like vivid paint on canvas or a single, stark musical note breaking silence. When I allow the unfamiliar into my life and welcome its difference, I grow in compassion and enlarge my capacity to love.

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