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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Purposefully Waiting

By Melodious Monk 

As part of the memorial acclamation each morning at Eucharist, all the congregants say aloud together, “we await your coming in Glory.” Think about this phrase for a minute. If you were always keeping in mind that Jesus may come again today, wouldn’t you live the rest of this day differently?  I know I certainly would. 

From what I’ve read and been taught about the first disciples, they believed Jesus would be coming back very soon, probably in their lifetime.  Two Millennia later, I usually assume Jesus won’t be coming back to earth during my life. I figure it’s already been a long wait, so what’s another mere 60-70 years in God’s eyes. But what if he does come soon? How would I change my day if I might meet my Savior this afternoon or perhaps tomorrow morning at breakfast? 

It gives me reason to approach my day with more of a sense of purpose. I want to ask God questions like, “what do you want from me today, right now?” There’s a relief in trying to live this way, with giving up a sense of control. It’s a way to stay safe in the arms of someone who knew my life’s path even before I started living it.

Rocky_mountain

 

Always We Begin Again

By Renaissance Girl
 
It’s been right under my nose for years and it’s only just sunk in. I was caught by the final verse of Psalm 61 in Lauds this morning: “Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.”
 
Day after day. Not a one shot deal, not a magic switch you flip and never have to think about again. I realize that’s what I look for — a one time solution — setting my course and putting myself on auto-pilot.
 
But it’s not that simple, or maybe a better way to look at it is that it’s not that stagnant. Life with God — vowed life — is a “day after day” kind of living. Every morning when my feet hit the floor, I vow again. I say yes (with God’s grace) to starting the process and staying with it that day. And if…no, when…I fall, I plant my feet and begin again. It’s a more hopeful way to live than in some of the ways I’ve tried to strive.  
 
It reminded me this morning of that quote “Always we begin again.” I couldn’t remember where it came from, and was a little embarrassed to find it is in the Rule of St Benedict — the foundation of our vowed life and our own Rule. It’s been right here telling me I don’t have just one shot to get it right…..I have Day after Day!
 
FreshStart

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

A Beautiful Departure 

One of our long-time community members died quite peacefully and happily this past week. She was 97 and extraordinarily full of life!  We always observe a vigil 24 hours prior to the funeral service and burial, during which the Divine Office moves from whatever season we may be in, to the Office of the Dead.  It was amazing! The use of “major modes” was everywhere — the psalms hopeful and full of praise for God’s mercy and grace — such joy for the believer’s return to Heaven. 
          
At the funeral Eucharist, we closed with the exquisite “In Paradisum” chant. That chant moved me to tears as we told our friend good-bye until we see her again in Heaven. 
           
I guess what was really on my mind and heart is that again, here was chant at such a crucial point in life — the time to return home to God. And, such a simple and beautiful chant — a “send-off” to Paradise”. This is one of the truest beauties of chant: helping us to keep our wonderment and awe of God’s love at such turning points in our lives!
 
“In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.”
 
May the angels lead you into paradise; and when you arrive, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and along with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.
 
chant blog.4.8.14
 
 

Chicken and Roasted Vegetables Extraordinaire: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

We are still picking kale and digging up parsnips in our garden, and both are tasting so so good. From the garden straight to the stove….how much fresher could you ask for your vegetables to be, and what could taste better with these wonderful vegetables than a nice plump whole roasted chicken smothered with herbs and filled with your favorite stuffing? It seems we can never have this too often at the convent.

Most people seem to be sold on roasted vegetables these days and they are great. But to me the magic key to making them better than ever, is to roast them together with the meat or poultry with which they are being served.

DIRECTIONS-

Season a whole chicken with onion salt and pepper and herbs. Place in roasting pan large enough to hold vegetables as well. Surround the bird with equal amounts of parsnips, carrots, potatoes and onions. Roast uncovered at moderate temp 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until juices begin to appear - stirring from time to time. Add chicken broth, water, or a splash of wine as needed making sure that every bit of flavor, fat and juice is being absorbed by scraping and stirring. Remove bird to a smaller pan to finish cooking, once the vegetables have reached the softness you desire.

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Care For The Soul

By Melodious Monk

One of the oldest members of our community died this past week, her name was Marny. A monastic tradition that we hold at the Community of Jesus is the observance of a prayer vigil when one of our members dies. After the wake, the coffin is brought to the church where it remains until the funeral service the following day. As we hold vigil with the body, we pray for the soul of the faithful departed, that they may be granted eternal rest in their heavenly home.  We take turns through the night to pray for our friend until she is laid in the ground at her final earthly rest. 

While praying for Marny I was asking myself, isn’t this watch care over each others’ souls something we should do for each other every day? Its not just the faithful departed that need our constant prayer, but those we live and work with each day. Jesus teaches us this in his commandment — you shall love your neighbor as yourself. If I want my friends in Christ to help me when I can’t see what might be a stumbling block in my life, I’d better do my best to pray and help them as best I can, for surely I’ll need the return favor!  Vigilantly caring for each other is the best sacrifice we can make for one another, and a way to love Christ in each other. It’s this unified body of Christ that allows us to show love, and it’s this love that allows us to catch hopeful glimpses of Christ’s eternal kingdom which is to come.

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Spent

By Renaissance Girl

Real satisfaction is brought to the heart of the Son of God only when we are really, as people would think, “wasting” ourselves upon him. It seems as though we are giving too much and getting nothing—and that is the secret of pleasing God.
—Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life
 
I chopped, stacked, and transported wood this weekend. We’ve been clearing some space for a new garden and processing the wood for firewood.  It’s a serious pile of wood and I must confess, I became acutely aware of how out of shape I am. But, that aside, it was great! A morning of teamwork, lifting and passing wood, loading trucks, stacking the piles, laughing and using muscles I had forgotten I had. It’s funny when you’re doing a job like that, you don’t realize until you’re finished how tired you are. When we stopped for lunch, I suddenly felt like I could fall over and go right to sleep. It’s a great feeling when you’ve worked to your limit and beyond without even realizing it, and you have that exhausted feeling of having spent all of yourself. And just as quickly I realized, I don’t have to be stacking wood to feel this way. I could live in a state of being spent — poured out — until I think I can’t stand up anymore — if I choose it. “God, please show me how.” Where are the other wood piles in my life that need ALL of me?
 
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