A Treasure in our hands
Last evening, I had a marvelous opportunity to speak with a religious sister who does a great deal of work with chant both in her community and as a ready and willing research aid for others. We were sharing stories of how we got involved with chant and the rare opportunity chant has offered both of us in meeting such a vast range of people!
She relayed a story of a trip to Rome to visit “some of the great treasures of the church”. She noted to me that she told the group she was leading, “that with chant, we carry one of the greatest treasures of the church in our hands, in our mouths, and in our hearts”.
Advent, with all its extraordinary chants, is a marvelous time to remind ourselves of this treasure, and offer our best efforts in bringing that treasure to the church as a whole.
by Melodius Monk
I like advent calendars. They can feel silly and quirky with their little windows to open, and for kids they mostly act as a good countdown to Christmas, but they also help remind us that it is a liturgical season—Advent!
As we’ve begun advent, I’ve started writing down various phrases and quotes that catch my attention. In compiling them for myself, its a bit like the daily opening of a window on an advent calendar.
1) Walking by the mail area the other day, I notice a new picture with the quote “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” -St Augustine
2) I hear the first chapter of John read aloud. I had memorized it in sixth grade but I feel like I’ve never heard these words before: “But to all who received me, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God”.
3) At church we sing a hymn with words by an author I don’t recognize. “He offers to the burdened the rest and grace they need. Gentle is he and humble! And light his yoke he shall be, For he would have us bear it so he can make us free!” – Frederico J. Pagura
Christmas comes anew each year, and Advent is a special time to prepare for growth in Christ. I hope I can quiet myself enough from all the business to make room for new growth.
Happy New Year!
Of course, the greeting of “Happy New Year!” might also be offered as “Blessed Advent”! We are now in the first week of Advent — the beginning of the new liturgical year. As I was writing this, “Ad te levavi” began chanting itself through my head. (“Ad te levavi” — I will lift up my eyes” — is the introit for the first week of Advent).
The fact that “Ad te levavi” was moving through my inner ear reminded me that part of the reason that we love chant is that it constantly reminds us of where we are in liturgical time. In fact, I found it comforting to “hear” that chant as it spoke to me again me of God’s constancy. Once again, is near to me as I cried out to Him.
Chant was designed, in part, to remind us of times of the year and how God expresses His love for us during these different seasons. We are temporal beings and chant has the ability to “slip past” the elements of our daily lives and struggles and lift us into “eternal time”. What a marvelous gift left to us by all of those nameless composers who worked to leave us a legacy of “sung prayer” that would remind us over and over again of God’s mercy and love.
by Sr Nunother
I occasionally cause trouble by rushing to judgment. When I have an unresolved grievance against another, I’m primed to strike and easy prey to gossip and innuendo regarding that person. I wish to believe the worst because it validates my personal sense of rightness. This happened recently and I hurt a friend for whom I have considerable respect. John Henry Newman in Parochial and Plain Sermons wrote, “In truth, the all wise, all-knowing God cannot speak without meaning many things at once.” What an amazing thought! Unlike me, God views the world with perfect understanding and sees multiple possibilities where I see only my own narrow perspective. For example, what feels like love to the neglected, could translate as excessive control to another. Each interpretation would be true and valid. God’s love and mercy are creative and fathomless, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.