EASTER: For He Has Triumphed Gloriously

The re-telling of the salvation story is essential in keeping our faith alive. Paul’s epistle reminds us that we are called to be witnesses of these great events and to pass them on.

I find echoes of the Exodus story in Mary Magdalene’s frantic response to discovering that the body of Jesus is no longer in the tomb. She runs off to alert the disciples. During times of uncertainty, we often want to get busy, doing something, rather than nothing. It is only when Mary returns to the tomb, standing still and weeping helplessly, that she encounters Jesus.  At first, she is preoccupied with grief, and she does not recognize him. Only when He speaks to her does she realize it is the teacher himself, somehow risen from the dead. Mary returns to the disciples to announce that she has seen the Lord, thus earning the title bestowed on her by the ancient church, “apostle to the apostles”.

Mary’s telling of the good news is a task she has passed on to us. How do we recognize  that we have seen the Lord, and how do we reveal this glorious truth to others? How do we dare speak of salvation and hope in a world so full of injustice, hatred, violence, and deadly accident?

This is the challenge and the mystery of Easter. For me it helps to remember that the victory song of Miriam is one of the most ancient in our scriptures. For many thousands of years the faithful have been able to stand tall and sing; “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.”

By Kathleen Norris

Excerpted from God For Us, Paraclete Press

The Community of Jesus

Good Friday

By Il Fratello

Today is good
Friday
And the hands of the church
Hold me
As I walk over these stones
We cannot do much
But make our way
Like the blind
Feeling texts written in raised letters

In fits and starts
I align myself with Christ
heroically
And tragically
Failing
To comprehend it all
I am most successful in slumber
Under the cloaks of the apostles

All of you in pain,
All of you suffering,
All of us,
Stop in our tracks
At the mystery
Of his willingness

The mystery of his blood rimmed eyes
That find me, you, each
Hidden in the crowd–
The only one who knows what I have done
And what of his inflicted pain was mine alone–
To say spirit to spirit
I forgive you
All.

Unto Us

By Sr. Nun Other

I recently helped remove strands of Christmas lights from a forty-four foot fir tree. I had the simple job of plugging in each strand – close to one hundred of them – to test and eliminate any that were defective. The tree climbers expertly coiled ropes of light, then piled them beneath the tree. As I retrieved them, I noticed how much each circle resembled a crown of thorns. It was a fascinating physical transformation and conveyed a distinct change in emotion that I wasn’t expecting. We rightfully honor and proclaim Christ’s birth with our best attempts at majesty and beauty. But look closely. Tucked within the ancient story are reality reminders. His life was rugged, filled with conflict, rejection, and suffering.  All for us.

CrownofLightsandThorns

Making Room

 

 

 

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By Faithful Finch

We received a beautiful Christmas card with a picture of Mary & Joseph, and the shepherds huddled in light  around Baby Jesus and the words, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” I put it up on our bathroom mirror to remind me as I dry my hair to “prepare Him room.”  But how do I do that? I feel so small in the pains and inadequacies of my puny life as I scurry from thing to thing to make space for Christ the King. As I wash my face at the end of the day, and look at the beauty and simplicity of that card, I once again feel convicted from the words, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”  I say, “Ok, I want to get there. I do, but all I have to offer is sin and the pain that comes with it. I’m sorry. Help me.”

A peace comes on me as I realize that not one person in this Nativity scene came to “prepare Him room” without pain, without sacrifice, but with so much blessing. That’s what the preparing is all about: making room every day of the year.

Annunciation by John Donne

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which can not sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which can not die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo! faithful Virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He’ll wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv’st, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother,
Thou hast light in dark, and shutt’st in little room
Immensity cloister’d in thy dear womb.

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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

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 Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Much to learn!

Antiphons are wonderful “miniatures” that we can study to glean knowledge about Gregorian Chant.  Below you’ll see a short antiphon, Vos reliquistis, which translated means: You who have left all things and followed me, shall receive a hundredfold, and life everlasting you will possess. (Matthew 19:28-29) This is Jesus’ word to his disciples in regards to them answering the call to follow him.  The Latin word, reliquistis, immediately brings to mind the English cognate “relinquish” – to hand over to another person.

Vos Qui revised

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This antiphon is used at Lauds, setting the right “tone or mode” for the chanting of the Benedictus for that particular day.  You’ll see that it’s in Mode 1.  At first glance, the antiphon looks low, and indeed it is.  One listen to the audio file will confirm that!

Mode 1 has a reciting note of LA and a home tone of RE.  We call this a RE Mode. ( Mode 2 is also a RE Mode, and we’ll be looking at that next week.) RE is located on the bottom line of the staff, and the antiphon begins and ends on this principal pitch.  With this particular antiphon, it barely makes it up to the reciting note LA.  We can hear the rise of the phrase to the words estis me, and the climactic point on the first two notes of centuplum (a hundredfold!).  Then the melody gradually subsides to its final resting place on possidebitis (will possess).  A simple sentence, a simple range of 5 or 6 notes; yet it conveys the conversation of this text!   Other Mode 1 antiphons have a broader range, and often ascend past the reciting note of LA.  But this particular one resides in the lower part of the modal range.

One more thing to note and that is the ending within the double bars.  This is the ending for the recitation of the psalmody that would normally accompany this antiphon.

The vowels E u o u a e, are a shorthand for the last verse chanted at the end of the psalm, the Gloria Patri.  These vowels are the last 6 in the Latin words, saeculorum, Amen.

Notice that this ending “hovers” around the Reciting tone LA!

Coffee on the Fly

By Sr. Nun Other

If you’re like me (and others I know), there are certain things you rely on. Morning coffee is on my list. A day or two ago, I poured a cup, added dry creamer, sipped, then went to answer the phone. I returned to discover a fly had invaded sacred space. I won’t divulge HOW I discovered this. Let’s just say it was unpleasant. I was on the cusp — with one foot over — of letting this experience define my day.

Another source of unrest is a lost “necessity.” And it can be anything. For one sister it was a missing mechanical pencil, her favorite pencil, the one she couldn’t be without. When a thorough search failed, she became anxious, and believed the pencil would never be found.

These are simple situations, but I’ve found that feelings are much less reasonable than reality. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat, wear, etc., not if we’ll eat, which is a much larger problem. He knows the danger of our obsessing over little things, losing our focus, and sometimes our way. The sister I mentioned decided to “let the pencil go” and not let it distort her perspective.  The result? She found it the very next day and has vowed to put her name on it. Just in case.

The Community of Jesus

 

Walking on Water

By Melodious Monk

This past Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration here at the Community of Jesus. Because our church is named after this feast, we always celebrate the feast on the Sunday closest to the traditional feast date of August 6th.

As the Gospel story was read aloud, I was drawn to St. Peter’s words first words to Jesus, “It is good to be here.”  But the Transfiguration gospel also made me recall another story about Peter and Jesus.  I’ve just been re-reading one my favorite books titled Walking on Water: reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle. In the final chapter titled “Feeding the Lake”, she writes:

“When Jesus called Peter to come to him across the water, Peter, for one brief, glorious moment, remembered how and strode with ease across the lake. This is how we are meant to be, and then we forget, and we sink. But if we cry out for help (as Peter did) we will be pulled out of the water; we won’t drown. And if we listen, we will hear, and if we look, we will see.

That sounds so simple –all we need to do is step towards Jesus and we can partake in the glorious impossibility of walking on water.  But the tiny word IF can become a stumbling block — IF we can listen, and IF we can hear.  We all are capable of hearing the divine voice, but how quickly we forget to do this!  We forget to cry out for help.  Scripture tells us Peter was apparently scared both stepping onto the water and when he witnessed the dazzling white light on Mt Tabor as Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared with them. But even in being scared, Peter proclaimed,”It is good for us to be here!”

When I’m scared, that’s the last thing I think of. Usually I want to protect, run the other way, or fight.  Many fears come up every day, in relationships, over unexpected events, through anxiety, or perhaps real physical dangers. I mostly want to avoid the things I’m afraid of, rather then proclaim that it may be good that I’m here. I don’t usually remember that perhaps this point of fear is good for me today.  For if God brought this fearful point into my life today, instead of running, perhaps I can conquer this fear.  Perhaps I, like Peter, can take just a step or two walking across new water.  If I don’t listen, and if I don’t look, the alternative might be to miss out on some of the “brief glorious moments” that God most certainly designs uniquely for us.

L’Engle moves on to write: “The impossible still happens to us, often during the work, sometimes when we are so tired that inadvertently we let down all the barriers we have built up. We lose our adult skepticism and become once again children who can walk down their grandmother’s winding stairs without touching.”  If we listen and if we hear…..we can be transfigured in ways we can’t even imagine or understand.

The Community of Jesus