Whatever the Approach

I have two friends.  Four footed ones.  I also have permission to give them one dog biscuit a day.  (I’m limited because they’re limitless and I tend to be obsessive compulsive.)  I find their approach to this little exercise fascinating.  Let’s take Toby, the golden retriever.  Toby is a self-assured extrovert, albeit on the lazy side.  When he wants his treat, and he often forgets he’s back for seconds, he slugs me in the back of the knees with whatever is in his mouth.  And he’s always carrying something:  a stuffed toy, a slipper, an old shoe, or quite recently, someone’s wrapped Christmas gift.  Womp!!! My knees buckle. Thanks, Toby.  Message received.  I stop what I’m doing and head for the dog treat cupboard. He awaits:  expectant, grateful, and unabashed.

Then we have Tank, a polite, soft-spoken,  border collie.  I sense someone staring.  When I finally locate the source, there’s Tank, ears down, one eye on me, the other looking another direction.   Experience to the contrary, he’s overcome with shyness.  Suspended above his head is an imaginary bubble that reads, “Geez, I’m sorry. Is this a bad time?  I apologize but I just can’t stop thinking about that biscuit.  No hurry, in fact, if you’re busy, let’s just skip it.”  We stroll to the dog treat cupboard.

I stop to think about my approach to God.  Am I a Toby, a Tank, or a bit of both?  As I’m sometimes the keeper of the dog cookie jar, God is at all times the keeper of blessings.  I suspect He doesn’t tire of hearing from me, whether I’m demanding, mistrustful, or get it just right.  He sees  through His lens  who I am, how I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going.  God is not capricious.  His love is everlasting,  and generosity unencumbered by our negative imaginings.

Psalm 10:17  You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and listen to their cry.






by Cantor

It is with great excitement that we look forward to Week 2 of year A in the 3-year liturgical cycle. WHY? What a seemingly random date!

This is the moment in the liturgical cycle that the extraordinary offertory Jubilate Deo, universa terra, appears in Ordinary Time. Mary Berry referred to this offertory as “the most wonderful piece-fantastic!” Truly, it is one of the finest examples in all of the Gregorian repertory of a joyous text released and exploded through sheer melodic curvature and development.

In 2007, several of our cantors had the extraordinary privilege of chanting and studying chant with Dr Berry in her home for the entire summer. Everyone had to present a “long term” project. at the end of the summer. Whoever presented the project had to ask another one of us to be the “guinea pig” cantor. I got to be that “guinea pig” for the cantor presenting the Jubilate Deo offertory. So, for 90 minutes straight, I chanted this offertory repeatedly, while Dr. Berry modified the presenter’s conducting. That was an experience never to be forgotten! Not only did both of us have the joy of learning the work in great detail, but by force of nature, learned it by heart. For any who have the chance, learn this work by heart – it will be an absolute treasure to you.



Giving Thanks

by Sister Victoria

Yesterday I spent most of the day travelling on a rather stifling bus from Bamenda to Yaounde, Cameroon’s capitol. After a good nine hours, I arrived around 5:30 pm, the dirt and dust having settled visibly on me.

I was greeted at the bus stop by the niece of my Pastor friend with whom I would be staying, telling me, “We’re going to Church.” What?! Really?! I say to myself, glancing down at my disheveled habit. What I thought I needed was supper, washing up, and an early night.

The service was well underway by the time we arrived, complete with a lively band and choir. It was a great time of praising God and I didn’t even check my watch!

What I needed and what I got, was a great chance to give back to God my thanks for the ways I have seen Him personally watch out for me. I felt less tired than when we began.

Sr. Victoria from the Community of Jesus tells about a service of prayer and praise in Cameroon

A Life of Joy

by Sr. Victoria

alifeofjoy2I have been sharing in the life of the Emmanuel sisterhood in Cameroon, Africa for almost six months now.  What continues to amaze me about these sisters is their life of joy. There are many things they don’t have that we as Americans would not do well without, yet they are blessed.


Every Sunday Eucharist, there is still a part of the service that never fails to move me.  At the time of the offering, the sisters strike up a lively song accompanied by drums and other percussive instruments while we begin to dance, two lines in unified movement converging towards each other and then making our way forward to the offering basket.  They have little to offer in the way of money, but they consider it a time to offer themselves anew to God — with joy!

Lord, may it be so in my life!


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

Hearing Joy

By Sr. Spero

In the Lauds service this morning, I noticed that the psalm verse familiar to me as “Let me hear of joy and gladness” (Psalm 51:8) was translated  “Let me hear joy and gladness.”   At first I thought it was a mistake.  But then I considered—is this what the Psalmist really meant.  Not—“ let someone come to me with good news,” but “let me hear joy.”  Hearing joy has nothing to do with outward circumstances.  It is an act of the will to listen to the joy that is surrounding us.  The heavens declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1)  The heavens praise your wonders, LORD (Psalm 89:5).  The Scriptures that that it is there. Do I listen for joy?  Do I open my ears to catch it? Not often. But is it possible if I set my will to listen for it?  Yes!

Rock harbor sunset community of jesus


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

Come What May

By Sr. Nun Other

If I were to have a conversation with the Apostle Paul, I’d like to pose this question, “How did you learn to be content in all circumstances?” My admiration comes, of course, from reading Philippians 4:12, in which Paul proclaims, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  I suspect it wasn’t a “firefly” of faith landing on Paul’s shoulder that produced such serene confidence.  A quick overview of his life proves that not to be the case. His personal journey was punctuated by suffering, both of his own making, and forced on him by others. He was a persecutor of the church and present at the stoning of Stephen, struck blind and converted on the road to Damascus, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and eventually martyred. Since I can’t ask my question directly, let’s speculate. Perhaps this passage is about joy, abiding joy, deeply rooted in reality and knowledge of the love of God.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Splendor Paternae Gloriae

The Office of Lauds, traditionally sung at dawn, is filled throughout with references to both the light and the “Light.”  We take for granted that we can have light today at the flip of a switch, while in earlier centuries, they were dependent upon the light of day, and were attuned to the sun’s rising and setting, and the spiritual significance of these natural events.  The Monday hymn for Lauds is filled with symbolic imagery.  It is a power-packed prayer text to begin a day.

O splendor of the Father’s glory, bringing forth light from light,
light of Light, and fountain of light, O Day, illuminating the day:

O true Sun, descend, sparkling with uninterrupted brightness;
O radiance of the Holy Spirit, pour in upon our senses.

Let us also call upon the Father with vows, the Father of perennial glory,
the Father of powerful grace, that he may remove the impure fault.

May he inspire steadfast acts; may he blunt the teeth of the envious;
may he direct favorably harsh situations; may he give grace to those who are bearing them.

May he govern and rule the mind in a chaste, faithful body;
let faith burn with zeal, may it not know the poisons of deceit.

Let Christ be food to us, let faith be our drink;
joyful, let us drink the sober intoxication of the Spirit.

May this day pass joyfully:  let modesty be as the dawn,
faith as the noonday;  let the spirit not know dusk.

Dawn carries on its course;  let the dawn go forward to every thing;
all the Son is in the Father, and all the Father is in the Word.  Amen   

                                                                                         Ambrose of Milan

The Community of Jesus



Improbably Possible

By Melodious Monk

What if Today,
the Holy Spirit will cleanse in me that which is unclean
water in me that which is dry
heal in me that which is wounded

What if Today,
the Holy Spirit’s fire will bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled
correct what goes astray

What if Today,
by His Grace I am granted the reward of virtue
granted the deliverance of Salvation
and granted eternal Joy

We have available in us a limitless grace that we have no comprehension of its capability.

Therefore Today,
Come Holy Spirit
send forth the Heavenly radiance
of your light.

[Verses slightly modified from an ancient hymn
appointed for feast of Pentecost]