The X Factor

by Melodius Monk  

I learned something new today. Recently I have been studying semiology. Semiology is a fancy word which means the study of the signs of a particular language, in my case, the sign-language of Gregorian chant. In this week’s offertory, I noticed a common sign to us English speakers, but one I’ve never seen in chant semiology — it was an X.  A more experienced chanter next to me leaned over and said that this “X” means to wait…and is a sign used very intentionally and symbolically in this season of Advent.

It’s a small notation, this X, and a small space is meant to be put in when singing the text. But perhaps this ancient composer had something to say to us today about waiting. I don’t like waiting. Maybe it’s part of growing up in the computer age, with instant access to nearly everything. I find myself getting anxious, feeling unproductive, even guilty…and embarrassingly, upset with God, sometimes very upset. I like clear, concrete answers from God which don’t happen every day the way I’d like. And so there’s waiting. Perhaps the placement of this little X promises something about God. 

The text for the offertory from Psalm 25 reads: “Do not let my enemies mock me”X “for no-one who waits for you shall be ashamed.

That’s a promise I’d like to hang on to. Maybe today there are X’s in my daily drive…places to just pause slightly, even to notice the little X. I hope I will slow myself down enough to not miss Him and His promises.

This entry was posted in Advent, Fear and Anxiety, God, Gregorian Chant, Reflections, Scripture by Melodius Monk. Bookmark the permalink.


About Melodius Monk

I'm 30 years old, and I grew up at the Community of Jesus. My parents moved from Ohio to live at the Community two years before I was born, so with the exception of a few years at college, I’ve lived in the Community my whole life. I became a Novice Brother in 2003, and made my profession as a brother in 2005. Currently I have a pretty varied life as a brother. In addition to daily responsibilities in our liturgies, I cook, sing, play trumpet, and am responsible for various cleaning and maintenance needs in the church building (my favorite jobs is changing the light bulbs at 45 feet!) I also arrange transportation for brothers to various appointments, work on repairing musical instruments, clean the barn, give tours of the church, make the weekly food menu for the Friary, and help out with various other needs as they arise around the Community. Growing up, I was not particularly interested in the religious life, but I met Jesus at an inter-varsity fellowship meeting my second year in college, and that re-directed my life drastically. I feel very fortunate to have found my life’s calling, and the hope for more wholeness is what keeps me on my monastic journey on difficult days.

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