Heavenly Questions

By Melodious Monk

When I finished high school, I was given a new Bible. The front cover had a picture of a young man, about my age, with three questions; What’s the purpose of life? Does God care about me? And Does anything last? These are eternal questions, the type we ponder whether we are aware of them or not, whether we consider ourselves religious or not.

I’ve been studying a poem by William Wordsworth for a piece of music that our choir will be performing at an All Saints Day concert. One line reads, “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.” Thinking about this line of text, there is a lot of theological belief packed into it. Wordsworth goes on to explain that “heaven lies about us in our infancy,” but as we grow up, “shades of the prison house” (earth) build up around us, and we forget from whence we came and to where we are headed.

I still don’t understand many of the answers to the three questions on the front of my Bible. But Wordsworth helps give me clues. When I choose to believe in Heaven as a place that I came from and am going to, small and large worries no longer seem significant. Life gains a tremendous purpose, hope, and bit of clarity as I remember that there is another vast world still to uncover.

The Community of Jesus

Answers or Faith

By Renaissance Girl

“Faith offers the promise that everything will ultimately be renewed in God. This hardly means that we will, or must, receive an answer from God for every question in our lives.” —Notker Wolf, Faith Can Give Us Wings

I find this meditation challenging. Challenging, I suppose, because I want answers to every question in my life. I suppose the embarrassing truth is that I often treat God as a vending machine for my questions. I want to be able to insert a question and push the right buttons and get an answer. But where does that leave faith?

What need would there be for faith, if every question I asked had an immediate answer? It’s a risky and lively way of life that Jesus beckons us towards.

Maybe sometimes it is about asking the questions, and then continuing to move forward. Perhaps the answer comes as a gentle re-direct on the way, and not a sedentary note of explanation as I sit waiting to be sure that the way I am headed is safe.

Hilly Road

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Chant When Needed!

I just had the privilege of being part of a chant schola that participated in a liturgy for mission outreach. There were many choirs singing in the service but only one chant schola – ours! The clergy asked us to choose a piece we thought appropriate for the occasion and almost instantly, one of our schola members suggested the Communion chant:

“Andrew said to Simon, his brother: I have found the Messiah who is said to be the Christ: and His name is Jesus.”  John I: 41-42  (Communion for Week II, Ordinary Time, Year B – found on page 263 of the Graduale Triplex).

The room fell silent as we chanted this beautiful text.The chant echoes Andrew’s outcry to his brother and also highlights the name of “Jesus” with the most extraordinary melodic shape and motive.  This was a great example of chant composed for one purpose able to serve for a completely different one. We should never pass up the opportunity to chant when and where we are needed!

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Image Credit: Chants from a choirbook from Florence – Victoria and Albert Museumwww.vam.ac.uk

Bend of Light

By Melodious Monk

There are many wonderful qualities to light;
-daylight
-moonlight
-dappled light
-Light of the world
-sunlight
-streaming light
-glistening light
-celestial light
-night light
-True light
-starlight…..just to name a few.

One of the amazing properties of light in nature is the drawing power it has. Plant life will do amazing things to “find the light.”  Either through bending, reshaping, or re-routing, plants are tenacious in finding a way to get to their life-giving light.  These fall days are getting shorter, but as we begin our procession toward the hopeful season of Advent, let’s remember to start searching and bending to find our much-needed Light.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

A Willing Spirit

While chanting Psalm 51 this morning at Lauds, this phrase caught my attention:

“…et spiritu promptissimo confirma me” (…and give me a willing spirit).

What struck me was the word translated as “willing” is “promptissimo,” and from which is derived our word “prompt.” I ran home and looked up the Latin translation which reads “The most eager.” So, that phrase from Psalm 51 could be read in English as “…and give me the most eager spirit.”

The response to the first half of the verse is: ‘Restore to me the joy of my salvation.” I asked the Lord to tell me what he wanted to be said today. When I saw the word “promptissimo,” I knew instantly that I had my answer. I gave a prompt and resounding “thank you” to God for having answered me so readily! In that word, he told me he was listening to my prayer and that my joy would return in quick response of thanks to him! Amazing — all within one word in the middle of a chant recitation!

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Gregorian Chant Splash Page
www.gregorianchant.org.uk

 

When Hearts are Free to Love

By Sr. Nun Other

Today we celebrated the Feast Day of Simeon, a man to be admired for his simplicity of heart. Fame, fortune, and great accomplishments were not on his resume; instead, we find written these words, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

The Community of Jesus

 

Degrees of Unpleasantness

By Melodious Monk

A sacrifice is not, as so many people imagine, a mortification; it is not something that is meritorious according to its degree of unpleasantness; on the contrary, in real sacrifice, there is a joy which surpasses all other joys, it is the crescendo and culmination of love. -Caryll Houselander

This is an interesting quote from an early 20th century British mystic and poet. It’s difficult for people, even many Christian people, to not view God as an authorial figure who is constantly judging, accruing and tallying the results of our every day. We’ve all been taught since early Sunday school that God loves us unconditionally, and thank God he does. But, do we really take advantage of this gift of sacrifice?

Sacrifice can be defined as: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.

I laugh at the phrase that Houselander uses to describe our human viewpoint of sacrifice, imagined as “according to its degree of unpleasantness.”  I know I childishly base many decisions each day on this “degree” of unpleasantness!  What I don’t usually keep measure of, and perhaps should start, is joy.  If true joy is something I desire each day, then a new way to look at sacrifice would be to realize that any sacrificial acts will help crescendo my daily “degree” of joy, and perhaps decrease my degree of unpleasantness!

The Community of Jesus

 

Lessons at the Keyboard

By Renaissance Girl

Someone sent me an email on Saturday night that made me angry. On an impulse, I sat down and sent them an angry email right back! I knew I would regret giving in to the temporary relief of lashing back, and I even said as much in my reply. Normally, I pretend I’m not upset, console myself by playing out various venomous responses in my mind, and then store them away for future ammunition. This time, I wanted to do it differently. I hit “send” on the email, and on the way out of the room I ran into a friend. “How are you?” she asked. So I told her about the email I received, and my tort reply, and then I asked, “How do I do it — how can I be honest but not mean?” She said, “Just keep talking to God and asking him what he wants to teach you about yourself.”

So I re-read the email and asked God what he wanted to show me. I tried not to focus on what I thought the other person’s problem was. And I knew for what I needed to take responsibility

I went back to the person on the other end of my email rant and apologized. And here’s something I learned: When I focus on what God thinks of me, and what HE wants to say to me, then I don’t put so much pressure on people to assure me that I’m OK. And when I’m not putting pressure on others, we can just talk like two people doing the best we can to move towards God.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor 

On my mind

At Lauds this morning, I found myself quite distracted. The more I chanted, the more distracted I became. By the time we arrived at the final psalm — the Praise Psalm — I was in no mood to praise anyone or anything, let alone the Lord who I knew was hearing every word going through my head!

Then something happened. We were a few verses into the psalm when I realized I was being swept along with it. The psalm and the chant had simply moved in and taken over my thoughts.. I was not overwhelmed by any large emotion, no “lightning bolt,” but rather a “still, small Voice” which was making itself heard through the chant.  That moment left me more able to ask God what was upsetting me, and for me to hear His answer. I am so grateful that He used the chant that way — to let me know what was really on my mind!

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit:Chants from a choirbook from Florence – Victoria and Albert Museum www.vam.ac.uk1000 × 1500

 

The Better Portion

By Sr. Nun Other

I had a plan for this morning. Rise early and get busy. I woke up at 4:30 to the sound of rain drops riding on a cool breeze, and like Mary (for once), chose the better portion. I listened to the rain’s unique music, and then drifted into a more peaceful sleep. There are moments in time prepared by God to bless us. In my agenda driven mind, I often miss or override their importance to the structure and balance of the day. I force my will, working hard and accomplishing little, because I’m out of sync with God. He sends love our way each day, when we’re open to receive it.

The Community of Jesus