Yes, and….

by Faithful Finch

This morning I was reading the account of the angel Gabriel’s annunciations to both Zechariah and Mary of the miraculous births of John the Baptist and Jesus.
All day, I’ve been coming back to think about their responses to the angel. They were both initially afraid, but there was a difference in their responses. They both had a question for the angel, but Mary somehow had a simple and solid faith in God’s goodness.

In putting it into everyday language, I could hear Zechariah’s question begin with, “yes, but…” whereas Mary’s question would sound more like, “yes, and….”

Perhaps even the result of Zechariah’s unbelief, causing him to be unable to speak, helped him to learn a similar faith by forcing him to listen more than being heard.


In Memoriam – Phyllis Tickle

Today, in celebration of Phyllis Tickle’s life, we share with you an open letter, written in thanksgiving for her friendship, guidance, and love over the last twenty years.

Phyllis at Lucy Farm

Dear Phyllis,

What can we, at the Community of Jesus, say about you?  How much of a friend you were, how we miss you terribly now and feel a hole in our days when we let ourselves think of you, and all that you have meant to us and done for the church?  

We remember your great laugh and your warmth of spirit, how you would encourage and challenge us to think beyond what we knew, to what is unknown, and maybe uncomfortable, but possibly something new to consider.  Where do we get this kind of friend?  A friend who would stick her neck out — knowing she was throwing some people into a frenzy of confusion, and yet, at the same time, feeling it’s a necessary duty.

We know you also enjoyed those moments.  You didn’t hide the twinkle in your eye when your probing had moved one of us off our chess spot, so that we bumped the Knight next to us and now saw the Queen from a completely different angle.   Yes, there were some very crafty moves, and yet, you weren’t just crafty, you were interested in the growth of an individual and its direct effect on the church.  Open the doors of the mind, let there be new ideas, let our words speak to a church in need, not a church we wish existed.  These were your words, and you were an evangelist and advocate, eager to live out your faith on the hoof with great intention and integrity.   

We miss you, friend.  We see your hand at Paraclete Press, and you will always be with us as a reminder to keep our sights on the future and the needs of a hurting world — of which we are a part — and to live out that vocation in the market place.

We miss you, friend.  We remember your words and your impassioned plea that the theater of the church be vital and full, retelling the great stories of faith and the riches of God’s promises to his people.  Elements Theatre Company owns this charge.

We miss you, friend.  We hear your chortles and southern twang as you tell stories and enjoy a visit with friends and colleagues, believing that at the basis of relationships, commitment and faith were paramount.

It has been our great privilege to know you and work with you, to sit with you and talk with you, to be a part of the church together and serve its future.  

With our great love and affection,
Your friends and family at the Community of Jesus

And flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.  Hamlet V,ii

Saint Simeon

The feast of Simeon is celebrated on October 8th. Simeon is one of my favorite saints. We know him only from his welcoming the infant Jesus, and his mother and father, into the temple. But the words of his welcome have become immortalized in what we know as the Nunc dimittis. For centuries the Nunc dimittis has been joined with the Magnificat to provide the outline for evening worship. Composers throughout the history of the Church have set it to different melodies to allow us to join in that very special moment of worship in the temple in Jerusalem.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.



IN MEMORIAM – Sister Christina Humphrey

On Monday we celebrated the life of one of our earliest Sisters. Sister Christina became a sister in 1971 and had a lifelong love of beauty, poetry and art. Here is one of her poems, inspired by the Pascal (Easter) candle.

Paschal fire

O Christ
the springtime
of my heart,
You did not wait
my turn to light,
You overruled
My wintered days
that they might
receive your
untimed spring.
The early Paschal fire
Has burned
My way to joy.

Sr. Christina

Her full obituary is online at the Cape Cod Times.


Saying Yes

By Melodious Monk

Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of the Annunciation, a feast that once again comes wholly unexpected at this time of year.  In reading the story again, I’m struck by two things.  Firstly, this visit from the angel on this March day, not Christmas, is the moment that God entered our world in the flesh; and secondly, on this day that Mary made her famous “fiat” — but she could have said no.  While I easily glide over both these events, hardly thinking more than, “of course that happened, the angel came and Mary agreed, and that’s wonderful and amazing and we love her for it!”

But I would do well to take a moment this week to ponder the amazing and multi-layered spiritual events that happened on this day.  In his book on saints, Father Alban Butler said this about the feast day: “The world, as heaven had decreed, was not to have a Savior till she had given her consent to the angel’s proposal; she gives it, and behold the power and efficacy of her submissive fiat!”

I see in this statement God giving Mary (and I believe all of us) a choice to say yes.  Not a one time offer, but daily, even many times a day we are given “angels’ proposal’s” or choices.  I tend to forget that in all situations, I have a choice for or against God.  On this feast, Mary’s example reminds us that the Savior will come readily after we say yes.

The Community of Jesus


Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

We have found the Messiah!

Can you imagine a relative or friend coming up to you and saying “We have found the Messiah!”

The Communion chant for last week is exactly that — Andrew telling his brother Simon that he had found the Messiah.   Perhaps like some of us, Andrew did not know what Simon’s reaction would be. Certainly, the chant gives that impression!

The chant itself is in three sections. The outer two sections are simply narrative, beautifully setting the scene. Their melodies are simple decorations of the reciting tone. However, the second sections — the actual words of Andrew — are quite emotionally and musically charged.  At the words “Invenimus Messiam” (We have found the Messiah), the chant jumps to the top of the mode and just as quickly leaps to the bottom of the mode. You can almost hear Andrew making certain that Simon would not ignore his words!  The text following — “who is called the Christ” sweeps right back up again to a modal high point on the word “called” and then gently descends into the final section of the chant.

I am always amazed that chant has the ability to make these famous words of scripture come to life in a small cocoon of musical drama.  Andrew’s words will be ringing in my ears for weeks to come!

The Community of Jesus






Image Credit: Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song | The Community of Jesus
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Ponder In Our Hearts

By Sr. Nun Other

Advent is a time to pause and consider, to wait with patience as action builds and events unfold: an angel’s visit, a young woman’s obedience, and a husband’s acceptance; a journey to a hostile city, unwelcome and unprotected; shepherds and choirs of angels, noble kings bearing gifts, and a treacherous king bearing destruction. It’s only Act I and we are witness as a child-king is born into the hands of all mankind.

The Community of Jesus

An Advent Search For Quiet Moments

By Sr. Nun Other

Yesterday, I experienced quiet in a room with several people. Each was absorbed in their work, but not isolated from the other. It was an active quiet, and brought to mind my personal Advent reading for the day: Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation. There is no written proof, but traditionally, Mary is pictured alone, in quiet work, when Gabriel appears. The scene unfolds (at least in my mind) in discreet tranquility, in a quiet village in Nazareth, a quiet event, that will one day alter the course of humankind.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

Hearing the Voice of God

This past Sunday’s Introit — “Gaudete” for “Gaudete” or “Rejoicing” Sunday, contains incredible joy and confidence. Years ago, in a class with Mary Berry, she surprised all of us with a rather colloquial translation of the first phrase when she let loose with an uncharacteristic outburst of, “it means don’t worry about a thing!” I remember thinking  to myself that chant is not just a museum piece that has beautiful melodies with extraordinary text. I heard something in her voice that told me that inside these chants was God’s love and God’s life. I knew at that moment that she had experienced God through chant in such a way that He became more alive to her every time she heard the chant. She had heard God’s voice!
Now, moving into Christmas, we have one of the most famous of all chants — “Dominus Dixit ad me” — the introit for Christmas Eve. Instead of the fervor found in the Dr. Berry’s stentorian translation of the “Gaudete” text, this chant beckons us to be quiet and listen in on a secret — something almost too personal to imagine hearing — God the Father himself saying that, “You are my Son, today have I begotten Thee.”
Chant tells the story of the text upon which it is based. This is one of the great and beautiful attributes of chant — it can teach through sound, the meaning of God’s Word. The passage of Advent into Christmas — provides us with chants that linger in our memories and, if we listen carefully, reveal God’s own voice of love as He himself introduces us to His newborn Son, Jesus, through the Christmas Eve introit!
A Blessed Christmas to all of you!
dominus dixit

On The Road

We were on the way
our minds still reeling from the events
of the past week.
Everything happened so fast
We had thought he was the promised one.
Never in our minds was it supposed to end like it did.
Then came the stranger,
apparently unaware of all that happened in the city.
We shared our burden and he in turn 
related the events to the scriptures.
Our hearts burned within us as he spoke.
When the time came to part ways in the late afternoon
we asked him to join us at the evening meal.
And there it happened, as we broke the bread, our eyes
were opened. We saw that it was Jesus who had been with us
on the way.
The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Familiar and poignant.
How could they have not recognized Jesus sooner? 
There seem to be times when I have been so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I lose sight of the larger picture. Sometimes a little distraction breaks the ice in my heart, and a ray of light gets into my room. A pretty bird lands on the limb outside the window; or the dog comes up to me and licks my hand. I become aware that I am not alone. In some subtle way Jesus has entered the room, and I recognize that He is near. Herein lies the joy of Easter. He has risen, and entered the everyday paths of my life.