The Turn

by Sister Spero

I’ve heard that the Psalms reflect all the emotions of the human heart. I saw an example of this at Lauds a few weeks ago. We chanted Psalm 57 — “I am in the midst of lions . . . men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.” Then “they spread a net for my feet — I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path.” This all sounds pretty grim.

But immediately it turns: “They have fallen into it [the pit] themselves.” “I will sing and make music! Awake my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! [I will be so loud and excited that] I will awaken the dawn.” All this happens in five verses — deep sorrow turns into deep joy.

No wonder the Psalms are so beloved, and are prayed and chanted daily by so many. They remind us that God knows what we’re going through, and knows how to turn it around.  

The Entry of the King

By Cantor

This coming Sunday, we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The traditional chant which opens the celebration is  one of the most famous in the repertoire: Hosanna, filio David — Hosanna to the Son of David! The opening upward sweep of this chant is unique, suggesting a celebratory call announcing an event of great importance and impact:


We heard that same upward sweep not long ago on Christmas in Puer natus est nobis — A boy is born to us:

puer natus

Here we see — or rather, hear — one of the most extraordinary qualities of chant: its ability to teach by simply offering a sound in relationship to a particular text. Just as the Palm Sunday chant gives musical depiction to the “entry of the King”, so the Christmas chant tells us the same, the entry of the “infant King” Jesus into this world. What an elegant manner in which to teach such a basic and simple truth, that this man on the donkey is the same person born 33 years earlier in Bethlehem.

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

“I Am Free”

by Sister Victoria

Yesterday was All Saints but also the first Tuesday of the month, which is when the Emmanuel sisters gather regularly for an evening of prayer and praise in their chapel. Often families in the surrounding area attend with their young children.

We began with a meditation and discussion on a passage of scripture, followed by a time of intercessory prayer, voicing our individual concerns, and then a good hour or so of PRAISE!

At this point, the young kids are alert (they had been dozing)…this is what they came for!
We all began to dance to the drums and move about the sanctuary, some with such energy they were almost winded! There is never a trace of self-consciousness.
One of the last songs we sang is, “I am free, my debt is settled.” Yes, we are!

From Sr. Victoria and the Emmanuel Sisters; a service of prayer and praise in Cameroon

Benefits of Praise

By Faithful Friar

Today I read in my devotional book about the benefits of Praise. It said that praise lifts up the spirit, builds up faith, defeats the enemy’s stratagems, and joins our prayers to heaven, where saints are already united in unending praise.

I have the privilege of ringing our Change Ringing bells. I think of ringing the bells as a part of the worship service where the overflowing of praise bursts from inside the church to the outside of the church. After reading this meditation, which went on to remind us that praise is a weapon against darkness, I wondered if that may be why so many people love to hear to the bells ring every day. In a time of such division, and bad news, the bells remind of us of beauty, hope and that His glory will prevail.


Desert Beauty

By Sunset Septuagint

Last week, we had a funeral for one of our earliest religious Sisters.  At the burial site, someone mentioned her love for the desert. That struck a chord with me, because I have had a love for the desert ever since I traveled one day over the desert from Amman, Jordan to Cairo, Egypt, and then another time from the North to the South of Israel. I felt the power of the desert, the force of shifting sands, the strength to survive that only God can give, I also saw the beauty in the desert, often in small and hidden plants dependent on God for their blooming. I was reminded of several scriptures from Isaiah: the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom. . . . they shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. . . I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?


Fiery Disk

By Sr. Fidelis

We’ve had two beautiful days at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod….not a cloud in the sky, and the sun a true disk, arching through its course.

St. Gregory’s hymn for Wednesday Vespers speaks eloquently of the 4th day of Creation and describes such a day. In our digital world, it is a good reminder that God’s creation is what determines time and the length of days. The natural world and the spiritual world are so closely linked.

Most holy God of heaven, you who paint the shining center of the sky with the brightness of fire, enriching it with beautiful light,

You, who establishing on the fourth day the fiery disk of the sun, set up the orbit of the moon, and the wandering courses of the stars,

So that, to the nights or to the days you could give a line of separation, and to the beginnings of months, a most familiar sign:

Illumine the hearts of men; banish the sordid things of their soul; release the chain of guilt; make void the mass of their crimes.

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


Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Fruits of the earth

Tuesday’s Vespers hymn at the Community of Jesus reminds us of the third day of Creation, where God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:9, 11).

Clothed in poetic imagery, this hymn reminds us that all the beauty that surrounds us came from the hand of God, and was always His intent to bless us. The texts to these hymns can easily be used as prayers of gratitude and repentance!

O great creator of the earth, you who delivering the land from the troublesome beating of the water, have given the immovable earth,

That, bringing forth suitable bud, beautiful things in golden-colored flowers, it might present rich things as fruit, and render pleasant food.

Cleanse the wounds of a scorched soul with the freshness of grace, that it may wash away its deeds with tears, and destroy wrong impulses.

Let it comply with your commands; may it approach no evil; let it rejoice to be filled with good things, and never know the work of death.

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

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Weekday Vespers Hymns

Last week we looked at Lauds hymns and discussed the fact that throughout the week, light, dawn, and the dispelling of darkness are the themes throughout.

The Vespers hymns, however, mirror the days of creation from Genesis, Chapter 1.  The texts of these hymns are attributed to Gregory the Great (d. 604).  Each one is a poetic masterpiece of 5 verses.  The first several verses always make reference to that particular day of creation, while the ensuing two verses are a supplication of needs for the soul.

The final verse is always a final prayer to the members of the Trinity.

Monday, traditionally thought of as the 2nd day of the week, mirrors this theme in the Vespers hymn, which speaks of Day 2 of Creation; the separating of waters above and below the skies.

O immense author of the heaven, you who divide the mingled streams of water so that they would not be confused, you gave the sky as a limit,

Establishing a place for the heavens, and likewise for the rivers of the earth, so that water might temper the flames, and that it might not scatter the soil of the earth.

Pour into us now, O most loving One, the gift of eternal grace:  so that, by the misfortunes of some new deception, the old error may not destroy us.

Let faith find light, so may it show forth the radiance of the light;  let it deter all these vain things, and let nothing false suppress it.

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.

The Community of Jesus



Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Alleluia for the third week of Paschaltide takes its’ verse from Luke 24: 35.

Cognoverunt discipuli Dominum Jesum in fractione panis.  The disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

A Latin word study gives numerous enlightening meanings:  to know….to become thoroughly acquainted with, to learn by inquiring, to examine, to perceive.  One meaning implied that it required individual exertion to strive to know.  Can we imagine the enlightening of spirit, paired with the reality of the recent Last Supper, and the breaking of the bread of the body on the cross that filled the disciples when the Lord Jesus broke the bread in their presence?

Alleluia….may we know him to that depth today.