Have a seat

by Melodius Monk

“We as followers of Christ don’t have some kind of special super power. We are not the spiritually elite. We just have the authority to show up. To show up and proclaim the nearness of God that scatters the darkness. And we can show up for life and for each other and for the world because what we need for healing and sustenance is always the same as the simple, ordinary things right in front of us—that’s just the way God works.“     -Nadia Bolz Weber

Early this morning, I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and already knowing the end, I started losing focus when surprisingly the story grabbed my imagination—as if to say, “don’t be so bored”—I have more to teach you. Jesus then took the loaves and gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”

And I started thinking of Nadia’s quote in relation to being seated. Being seated is simple un-profound, and not hard to do. The people with Jesus that day simply had to show up, sit, and Jesus did the rest.

Daily I’m crying out to Jesus, where are you?  What are you saying to me? Why can’t I find more answers? I want more assuredness from God, more peace, more answers, less doubt. I assume I must need to do more of “something” to gain access to God.

Sitting can be challenging. It feels unproductive, a little boring, vulnerable and uncomfortable. Yet I need not run, hide, or try to produce, but simply sit and take in what God puts right in front of me today.

Perhaps in the rootedness of staying put, we open ourselves to the possibility to receive from a God who wishes to give us as much goodness as we dare to want.

More Than Cliché

By Sr. Nun Other

I wish that I could learn to “leave well enough alone.” It’s a beautiful thing for those who can do it. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I’m the type that must add one more, adjust just a little, and pull the thread that unravels the sleeve. Let’s just say I’ve ruined more than I’ve improved. What to do with me? How do I transform my compulsion to make everything okay?

The Apostle Paul put it this way: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  Philippians 4:6-7

And may I add, if you’re like me, say to thyself, “DON’T TOUCH THE CROOKED PICTURE.”

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Image courtesy of cityexile dot wordpress dot com

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.

Peace

By Sr. Spero

One of the beauties of Gregorian chant has nothing to do with music. By singing the psalms over and over, chant penetrates the soul, and the psalms take on layers of meaning. Monks and nuns for centuries have known this and have experienced the insights that bubble up from the psalms during the Daily Office. This is one example.

For years I have read the translation of Psalm 118:11-12 during Sunday Lauds. “They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns.” I always thought of this as a description of war. But last Sunday I realized it is a description of peace. Even though the enemy (thoughts, emotions, addictions) surround like buzzing bees, they disappear quickly—in the name of the Lord. This could be a definition of Christian peace, based on the reality that bees of one kind or another will always be buzzing around us. Christian peace, not based on calm or absence of conflict, but peace based on the knowledge that when we call on the name of the Lord, there is victory.

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Preparations for Peace

By Sr. Fidelis

It never fails to amaze me that the texts chosen for a particular week in the Church Year have layers of meaning for us. This final week before Advent begins is no exception. The Introit takes verses from Psalm 85: “He will speak peace unto His people and to His saints, and to those who turn to Him in their hearts.” (RSV) The Latin actually says, “and on those who are converted to Himself.” On this threshold we receive assurance that if we are turned toward Him, that He will speak peace to us in the gift of His Son. The psalmist invites us to expect and prepare for the Prince of Peace.

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Reading for Lauds at the Community of Jesus this morning was from an Epistle of Clement I. The last paragraph read, “Even the Creator and Lord of the universe rejoices in his works.  By his supreme power he set the heavens in their place; by his infinite wisdom he gave them their order.  He separated the land from the waters surrounding it and made his own will its firm foundation.  By his command he brought to life the beasts that roam the earth.  He created the sea and all its living creatures, and then by his power set bounds to it.  Finally, he formed humanity, the highest and most intelligent of his creatures, the copy of his own image.  We must recognize, therefore, that all who are upright have been graced by good works, and that even the Lord himself took delight in the glory his works gave them.”

This seemed like a summary of the beautiful Vespers hymns we’ve been looking at these past weeks with themes of the various days of creation!  The Friday hymn is the last in the set, with text mostly likely attributed to Saint Gregory the Great. Here is as description of true Paradise on earth.

O God, shaper of man, you who, alone, ordaining all things, order the earth to produce species of creeping and wild beasts;

You, who gave the great bodies of creatures, made alive by a word of command that they might serve in their place subduing them to mankind:

Drive away from your servants, whatsoever, by uncleanness, either suggests itself by customs, or insinuates itself by actions.

Give the rewards of joys, grant the gifts of graces; dissolve the chains of quarrelling, bind fast the agreements of peace.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age.  Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

“Hope To Turn Again”

By Melodious Monk

It’s a shame that lent has so many negative connotations. The introit Mass Proper for Ash Wednesday opens the liturgical season with these words:

“Your mercy extends to all things, O Lord, and you despise none of the things you have made. You overlook our sins for the sake of repentance. You grant them your pardon, because you are the Lord our God.” —Wisdom 11:24-25, 27; Psalm 57 (56)

For any of us who struggle with self-acceptance, what a wonderful time to lean in towards a merciful God who made no mistakes in His creation. I still have so much to learn about this God of love.

In his eloquent poem titled “Ash Wednesday,” T.S. Eliot finishes the poem with a beautiful prayer-like litany to the Blessed Virgin. As we start this penitential and joy-filled season, I hope that my heart will echo his poetic words.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto thee

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image taken from : https://melaniejeanjuneau.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/ave-maris-stella-illustrated-with-icons/

Everyday Holiness

By Sr. Nun Other

I live in a wing of our Convent called “Elim”. It’s a Biblical name that means oasis, a shelter in the desert, a place of serenity and refuge. I’m fully aware that my personality brings daily chaos to the oasis, and that its godly purpose rests on fragile ground. One thing I can do is help create order and beauty in the space itself. I discovered an interesting verse, Psalm 93:5, that says: Your statutes, Lord, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days. It occurred to me that all places (and people) dedicated to God should be adorned with holiness. I’m not sure what all that means, but I do know that beauty in ordinary things is an important component.

The Community of Jesus

Gems From A Little Red Book

By Melodious Monk

Tonight I was inspired to pick up my small copy of the Rule of St. Benedict. While looking for a 3-ring binder, this little red glossy cover buried in a stack of books caught my attention, so I placed it in my coat pocket for later reading. Just before bed, I remembered the little book.

Today was a difficult day for me. It was the type of day when nothing seemed to work out – at least on the surface. I found myself in several arguments, which eventually got settled, but left me somewhat disquieted.

So at the end of the day, opening the little red book, I was more than drawn into its words, surprised to discover that St. Benedict’s pen was addressing me directly.

Listen carefully, my son… this is advice from a father who loves you… First of all, every time you begin a good work… You must pray for him most earnestly to bring it to perfection… for the Scripture arouses us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep. (Rom 13:11)… If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 94:8) Come and listen to me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 33:12) Keep your tongue free from vicious talk… Let peace be your peace and aim… Once you have done this, my eyes will be upon you and my ears will listen to your prayers.” (Isa 58.9)

(Excerpts from Prologue to Rule of St. Benedict. 1980. Edited Timothy Fry)

What a treasure of wisdom. If you haven’t read St. Benedict’s Rule, I recommend it.  It’s full of so many rich gems. There’s good reason why fifteen hundred years later so many people still follow his teachings.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Come, Holy Spirit

Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit) is one of the best known and most beloved of all chants. It is sung at the opening of the election process of a new pope, monastic chapter meetings, as well as Pentecost Sunday. Mary Berry always opened her teaching sessions with this chant. An invocation for inviting the Holy Spirit to be present, it is truly a chant for all occasions.This chant is also found in today’s hymnals, set in modern notation, and is frequently put into choral anthem settings.

As we begin a new year, it seemed a good time to point out that of all the Gregorian chant repertoire, perhaps the most famous work also has one of the largest audiences. Below, I have put an English translation of the text that can serve as an opening prayer for 2015!

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,  and in our souls take up Thy rest; come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry, O heavenly gift of God Most High, O fount of life and fire of love, and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known; Thou, finger of God’s hand we own; Thou, promise of the Father, Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above, and make our hearts o’erflow with love; with patience firm and virtue high the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread, and grant us Thy peace instead; so shall we not, with Thee for guide, turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow the Father and the Son to know; and Thee, through endless times confessed, of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son, Who rose from death, be glory given, with Thou, O Holy Comforter, henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit for image Misa Tradicional en La Plata: Secuencia de Pentecostés misatradicionalenlaplata.blogspot.com