A Few Kind Words

By Sr. Nun Other

If God said, “You may choose one gift of the Spirit and become that gift,” which would you choose—love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control?  Me? I’d choose kindness because our world surely needs it.

Kindness is hard to define and difficult to achieve. It’s situational, not one dimensional, and best occurs when there’s an absence of agenda on the part of the giver. Genuine kindness is closely knit to truth; it unselfishly expands the capacity to love.

I end with this wonderful verse: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.”  Proverbs 3:3

From the floor of the Church of the Transfiguration, the acorn is native to the Holy Land and a traditional symbol of kindness

From the floor of the Church of the Transfiguration, the acorn is native to the Holy Land and a traditional symbol of kindness

Vine Support

By Melodious Monk

I’m still very much a novice gardener and one plant I’m still scared of is the vaunted, precious, glorious gem of the summer crops – the vine ripened tomato! Perhaps I’m still haunted by the tomato plants that unexpectedly caught disease last summer and died before producing fruits, but I still find myself delicately reverencing the great tomatoes, afraid that too much action (pruning, fertilizer, or water) or not enough of the same will result in a failure to produce fruit at the end of the summer.

Tomato signOne particular tomato plant is teaching me a lesson this August. It’s a tall tomato plant at the front of staked row, one that has a stout 8 foot stake to climb, and, even with faithful succoring, it has grown well above this height. The stalk is a sturdy with a straight trunk, about an inch or more thick in places. After a recent heavy wind storm, a tall main branch was folded in half at about 4 feet above ground. I found it the next morning, nearly broken in half, collapsed to the ground. Instantly the anxiety began to rise, my fears were coming true: here we are in August and the entire growing season is going to be for naught! I was about to cut off the large sprawling branch, to throw in the brush pile and quickly hide the shame I was starting to feel of ruining this beautiful plant. I should have tied it up better, maybe added another stake, I’m thought to myself.

I assumed the branch had no chance of survival, since only a paper thin outer strand was keeping it connected to the rest of the plant. As I took hold of the branch and tugged, it remained surprisingly, but solidly, fixed on the main vine of the plant. I’d heard that as long as part of the branch is still connected to the main trunk, it’s possible for the branch to still get nutrients, to heal and keep living. With not much to lose, I figure why not try an experiment. I grabbed a flat 6 in piece of wood that was lying on the ground nearby and tied a splint along the stem. Surprisingly the branch held even with the twisting and bending to move it back upright, and with a few extra supports tied to the tomato-heavy top, the branch felt relatively secure. The next day it was still standing, still green, and a week later you’d never know it had been within a tinsel thread of its life.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” In dark, doubt filled moments, we must remember that no matter what storm may cause us to fall off the vine, we always have the choice to reconnect even the smallest thread to the main vine, and continue on our path towards producing good fruit–and our healing.

Tomatoes

Gregorian Chant: Close Cousins

By Sr. Fidelis

One look at this antiphon reveals that it is very similar to the Mode 3 selection we looked at last week.

The characteristic FA-MI relationship (home tone MI) is found right at the beginning of this antiphon.  However, the range is much lower, mysterious sounding, even hovering below the reciting note LA, which we hear only 3 times.  Only once does it ascend above this point on the word “Moyses”.  Listen and look at this Mode 4 expression of: And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias, speaking with Jesus.

This antiphon is from the Feast of the Transfiguration

Et Ecce

Dependence

By Hummingbird

I have noticed a curious hold my four legged friend has on me. I have long puzzled over it. He comes and fixes me with his eyes and is communicating something. If I am slow to respond, he may punctuate his look with a sharp bark. He is obviously telling me his need is urgent in his opinion! The hold is this; as I turn my attention to him I am ever aware –he has no hands to open doors, or get his food. His needs are ever before me. He has utter unfailing confidence that I will see to his needs. He is not passive but takes his job as actively informing me of his status and presenting himself in my presence as if reminding me, “Remember I have no arms and you are my chosen sole provider.” He is never embarrassed at his need but accepts and seems to joy in this dependence—even at times seems to show me off with pride. His need and that he depends totally on me lead me to never fail to respond.

Then I am struck to the heart. O, God, am I proud of my dependence on you? Do I joy in being actively involved in presenting myself before you? Do I have utter confidence that you never fail me and always meet my needs? Do I accept that I can’t change my heart anymore than my little friend can grow “arms”? Do I rest in the knowledge that my need excites the love of my Savior who gave his life for me, of my Father who never sleeps, and my Comforter who flies to my side?

Dear God, help me to be so proud of your relationship to me. May I ever be constantly active to present myself before you,  and to joy in my love and need of you.
Puppy with bowl

Di-vine Connection

By Sr. Nun Other
Last week, I wrote about grapes maturing on the vine. A reader reminded me there are further steps to this process, depending on each grape’s destiny. One definition for vineyard is “sphere of activity.” Let’s say you’ll one day become grape juice. It involves a crushing process, and the essence of who you were, yields to who you’ve become. This can happen in the hands of a watchful vine keeper or, more painfully, solely through circumstance and personal choices. Jesus is our guardian, our friend that tends to each particular vine. He isn’t surprised when we wander, or daunted by our indifference.

His Love continues until our personal transfiguration is complete.

Grapes

 

Impressions

Last week, I started a week-long conversation with the Lord. It began with me in my frustration, asking God how long it would take me to change. ( well, honestly, it really began with me asking the Lord how long it was going to take the person with whom I’d just had an argument to change!)

As I settled down and began to listen more, He began to teach me.

He told me I couldn’t change myself. He told me I couldn’t become like Him just by copying Him. That wasn’t  enough.

I waited for Him to tell me more, but that is all I heard for that day.

The next day, I was talking to the Lord about some stress in my life and why He was allowing it. What good was there in it? As I listened, I heard Him say, “as you are pressured and press yourself against Me, my image is imprinted on you. All you have to do is throw yourself on Me.

As I went into our church a few days later, I looked at the bronze Adam & Eve on the doors. I realized the art form to make the doors, the Lost Wax process, is similar to what happens to us in Transfiguration – as we allow the pressure in our lives to push us towards Jesus, He impresses His image into us.Eve - from the main doors

Gregorian Chant: The MI Modes

By Sr. Fidelis

Mode 3 is one of the most enigmatic of all modes!  It’s range is full, and it encompasses BOTH half step relationships at either end of the spectrum.  It recites on TI – an unstable pitch, which is constantly “pulling” to resolve up to DO.  The home tone, MI is a half step away from FA, so its endings always have a mysterious somber sense to them.

Non invenientes Jesum, is a beautiful example of this complex mode.  Taken from the Feast of St. Joseph, the text reads:  “Not finding Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him:  and after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:45-46.)

First to note is the opening phrase, which starts with the home tone and the MI-FA relationship, not once, but twice; then ascends right up to the TI-DO  on the word “Jesum”.  This small phrase encapsulates the essence of Mode 3!  Listen for these key relationships throughout this whole antiphon, and sing along.

non invenientes

Never Out of Sight

By Hummingbird

While traveling with my four-pawed brown-eyed friend I learned an important lesson about my relationship with Jesus. His favorite place to be was curled up on my lap like a cat, if I was seated. If was standing, he desperately wanted to be carried but would stand close by my feet with his eye pinned on me.If we separated, he would come, nose to the ground and eyes searching all the feet, to find my feet. If tending to his “own business” outdoors were to take him any distance from me, the corners of white-rimmed eyes would always be curled around to see where I was, no matter what!

He suffered thousands of feet, strange places, uncomfortable beds, food at any hour, being stuffed in a bag at my feet on a plane; not understanding and yet following any place, any time, into any circumstance.

He convinced me that I was his master and the only master in the world he wanted. His constant work and joy was to be with me, wherever I sent him, his face told me I would be in the center  of his thoughts ‘til he was by my side or in my lap again. He moved and strangely warmed my heart, and I longed to tend to his needs and have him always by my side. His love blessed me. My greeting became always a caress and a special personal word.

Suddenly, I understood—Oh, Jesus. It is so easy to have You with me if only I would take You to my heart as I am in his.

Yorkshire-Terrier

 

Wonderfully Made

By Sr. Nun Other
While walking near our church, I was impressed by the beauty of grapes on a nearby vine. I stopped and adjusted my glasses for an up-close inspection. In perfect bunches, light green, unripened grapes, sidled up to others already in process of color transformation. Though currently in different stages of development, they coexisted in flawless symmetry.
Grapes ripening
The experience reminded me of the scripture concerning the Body of Christ, found in 1 Corinthians 12.  Briefly summarized,  Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many: a foot, a hand, an ear, an eye. God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as He chose. And with a variety of gifts – wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy – but it is the same God who activates all of them.To each is given…for the common good.

We sometimes suggest that a person “just be one of the bunch.” I conclude, there’s no such thing. It’s more accurate to say be part of a bunch, add your strengths (and need), journey together in spite of differences, encourage through mercy, and uphold one another with forgiveness.

Gregorian Chant: The Other Half

I am the resurrection and the life;  he who believes in me, even if he dies, shall live; and all who live and believe in me, shall never die. (John 11: 25-26).

 

In this Mode 2 antiphon, we hear Jesus’ words of blessed assurance to all who believe.  Last week we witnessed the funeral for one of our Community members, and this text was both chanted and read during the day.
Ego sum - fix

CORRECTED IMAGE

The most characteristic detail of a Mode 2 piece is the clef at the beginning of the piece.  Shaped like an old fashioned telephone receiver, it is the FA clef, and is used almost exclusively for this Mode.  The reason?   Mode 2 pieces have a very narrow range; the reciting note is FA and the home tone, RE. On a normal staff with DO on the top line, these pieces would show up at the bottom of the staff,and lower notes could even be below the staff.  The FA clef, located in the middle of the staff assures us that the majority of the piece will sit comfortably on the staff .  Notice that there are a few notes above and below the key pitches of FA and RE, but for the most part, the piece circles around those principal pitches.

Listen for this, as you look at the piece.