The Meaning of Love

by Sr. Spero

We sang some verses from Habbakuk in Lauds this morning that show me the meaning of hope.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. . . .” [Habakkuk 3:17-18a]

Food is pretty basic. Habakkuk is saying that even if he starves to death, he is still choosing to rejoice. This is hope—and trust in a loving God. God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but he also allows various kinds of famine in our lives. This is when we understand the challenge of hope, and, ultimately, the meaning of love.

grapevines at the Community of Jesus

Beauty in Simplicity

by Sr. Fidelis

I am always astounded that even the smallest Divine Office antiphons in the most seemingly inconsequential spots — such as the 2nd antiphon of Thursday morning Lauds — have so much to tell us.

This particular antiphon — A timore inimici — has one of the smallest ranges of any in the repertoire: a perfect 4th. Also, it has only one melodic theme: a falling minor 3rd that repeats three times!



It’s amazing in this simple chant that it’s the smallest variation that makes the meaning arise! Take a look at the beginning of the chant. There is a line called an episema over part of the word timore — fear — placing a stress there. The very next word inimici — enemies — uses exactly the same notes in the same order, but there is no episema so there is no stress. Instantly, the chant stresses that it is the fear from which we want the Lord to deliver us!

Finally, look at the only two places in the chant where the chant “dips down” just one note below the interval of the minor 3rd. The two words highlighted at those two lowest points are “save” and “soul”.

How beautiful and moving that by a slight stress and two additional notes, the chant brings forth the message: “Save my soul from fear.”

To be light

Lord Christ,
Help us to have the courage and humility to name our burdens
and lay them down
so that we are light to walk across the water
to where you beckon us. . . .
The memory of hurts and insults,
driving us to last out,
to strike back
We name it
and we lay it down. . . .

Our antagonism against those
whose actions, differences, presence,
threaten our comfort or security
We name it
and we lay it down. . . .

We do not need these burdens,
but we have grown used to carrying them,
have forgotten what it is like to be light.
Beckon us to lightness of being,
for you show us it is not unbearable.
Only so we can close the distance.
Only so we can walk upon the water.
Blessed are you, Lord Christ, who makes heavy burdens light.

Kathy Galloway, Iona Community


Hidden Treasures

by Sr. Fidelis

Last week we celebrated the feast of the Holy Cross, and while this feast falls only once in the year we found ourselves chanting some of the same familiar Antiphons and Hymns from Holy Week. Coming into Lauds my mind was swirling with busyness, thoughts and worries about the upcoming pressures of the day. It probably took a full Psalm for me to settle but as I wrangled my mind into focus on the service at hand I experienced a moment of clarity and revelation. The words sitting before me were the answers to all my concerns: words about sacrifice and love and the resulting victory and salvation. I felt kind of caught up short as the power of the words I was reading without really paying attention dawned on me. The antiphon “Ecce Crucem Domini” particularly spoke to me: Behold the cross of the Lord; flee, you hostile parties; the lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David, Alleluia!

Here is a simple piece written in mode I with a fairly narrow range and yet in its way expressive: “Fugite” (flee) rising as if we are shaking our fists at the enemy, “vicit leo” (the victorious lion) crouching on lower notes and then rising as he goes. I saw a picture in front of me that gave me goosebumps, and for a moment my concerns seemed so small. It is visions like these that I want to let grow in my life.

Never Forget

by Faithful Friar

There is not much in this life that is more moving than to hear a bell tolling from the tower. Its mournful, rhythmic cry interrupts our self-centered lives with the demand to pay attention to something other than our busy schedules. It causes us to wonder – who died? What has happened? Who has been lost to us? We begin to count the rings, three – four – five…until we lose track because they are too numerous, or something steals our attention away.


Such was the case this last Sunday when the Anniversary of 9/11 fell on a Sunday and marked 15 years since the terror attacks on the United States. The #10 Bell in the tower at the Church of the Transfiguration began tolling at 8:46 a.m…and did so 5 more times to mark the destruction of so much that we held dear….or was it calling our community to prayer and celebrating the lives of all who arrived at the gates of heaven on that day? Was it indeed a mournful sound or a somber rejoicing? People came and went by the tower all morning, the bell weaving its sound through our sunlit Sunday. Finally, with all seated in church, the final toll began and ended at 10:28. Like a spell being broken, we were reminded once again that many lives were sacrificed that day—some were given and some were taken. We were grateful to be called to remembrance and prayed once more that we would never forget.

Death Has No Sting!

holycrossby Sr. Spero

Today is the Feast of the Holy Cross, and the day we sing the Lauds antiphon that captures the essence of Christianity.

O great work of love! Death died at the same time, when life died upon the tree.

If I can grasp the full meaning of this paradox, then my life will be totally different. Death and darkness will have no power, and I will live in a state of gratitude for the sacrifice of the cross.



A Reading from a Homily of John Chrysostom

chrysostomThe waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of our goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats; I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good.

I have his promise; I am surely not going to rely on my own strength! I have what he has written; that is my staff, my security, my peaceful harbor.

The Feast of John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople — September 13, 2016


Chant’s Voice For Today

by Sr. Fidelis
Our Sunday Eucharist this past Sunday was in honor and memory of the 15th Anniversary of the tragedies of September 11, 2001. The Alleluia chanted by one of our women’s scholas was simply the one for the current week, from Psalm 101, vs. 16:

Alleluia, alleluia. Vs. The nations will fear your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory. Alleluia.

When our pastor reminded us that the more than 3,000 people lost that day came from the vast span of 93 different nations, I was awestruck at this text which speaks of ALL nations fearing God and his glory. How incredible it was to hear this chant growing ever stronger over the text “thy glory.” It was as though in the midst of such a remembrance we were being reminded that God is still ever- and all- present for all of us at all times and in all of our circumstances. I continue to be amazed that chant gives such a voice to God’s word, especially on such an occasion as was this one!


by Sr. Spero
I have been feeling dry and distracted lately, but this quote from Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer I read in Daily Bread that gives me hope.

“It is really not surprising that this one whose own desire is that I desire and need Him will work in my life like huge waves striking rocks.”*

“Huge waves striking rocks.” No matter how rock hard I may feel inside, he’s going to keep pounding me with huge waves, reminding me he’s there, he’s working and he’s urging. Living Water comes in many forms. What a comfort to know that when we’re not choosing the gentle stream, he comes after us in huge waves, for the sake of love.











*—Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer, The Mystery of Faith-Meditations on the Eucharist, Paraclete Press

God Hears the Heart

by Sr. Spero

The reading from Lauds this morning was from a sermon of Cyprian (d. 258). He told his listeners not to shout their prayers, because “God doesn’t hear our voices, he hears the heart.” That started me wondering what God hears when He listens to hearts. Is it words, or “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26), or could it be music — harmony or dissonance depending on the state of our hearts? To me, it would be a terrible burden to hear the sounds of billions of hearts and never know silence. But God is not like me.  He is Love.