LENT III: A prayer

Holy God, as we enter into another week of our slow preparation, anticipating your saving passion, we turn our eyes away from our own sore insufficiency and lift them to your Holy Cross. We seek all the more earnestly to relinquish our dim will to your illumination. We ask you to help us to shed our petty self-concern, our failed self-sufficiency. We ask for your uplifting care.

In Paradise, our ancient home, a tree once stripped us utterly of life, for by giving us its fruit to eat, the enemy fed us death and we partook.

Today the Tree of thy most Holy Cross is raised upon the earth, filling all the world with joy and with thanksgiving, that we, partaking of its holy, life-giving fruit might once more be made whole, infused with your life.

We lift our living voices, praying: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen

From God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter Paraclete Press

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

 

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

Tools of the Trade

By Sr. Nun Other

I have great admiration for those who fix broken things. Carrying a metal box filled with mysterious objects, they arrive prepared for any task. The Psalmist speaks of a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart, sacrifices that God finds acceptable. We’re also assured the Lord is near the broken hearted and delivers those who are discouraged (some translations say “crushed in spirit.”) So then, what’s in His tool box? I suggest the following:

Hymns of recollection and hope
Scriptures that inspire
A small prayer answered
Visual beauty
A moment of solitude
A friendly interaction
A change in direction

We’re surrounded by God’s intervention. He’s in the repair business, eager to make us whole, and waits for us to recognize His presence.

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

 

 

Abide Not Hide

By Sr. Nun Other

I love when the Holy Spirit brings new understanding to a familiar scripture. This week, I found inspiration in words from Psalm 11 — In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings.” I think of my many mountains. Some are actual objects, like ice cream in the freezer, a good book, or newspaper where the news is worse than my own. But more often, it’s an inward mountain of my own construction. When I’m anxious, uncomfortable, hurt, or ashamed, I’m adept at remaining physically present, but emotionally far away. It takes courage to say (and mean it), “In the Lord I take refuge.” It requires standing firm while the enemy within tells you it’s safer to head for the shadows. Why choose a lonely place, when life and healing are a simple prayer away?

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Summer Hymns for Lauds 

The weekday hymn for Lauds has a new text for each day of the week.  The season is indicated by a different tune for winter and summer; but the text remains the same for each day.  Right now we are chanting the summer tune, which we began right after Pentecost.  We will continue to use this tune until after the autumnal equinox toward the end of September, when we will switch to the winter tune.

The Lord’s Day Lauds hymn however has a completely different tune as well as different text for each of the seasons of Ordinary Time.  As one might expect, the text of the summer hymn begins with reference to longer days. It is attributed to Alcuin, who died in 804.

Behold, already the shadow of night is diminishing, the dawn of light is gleaming red:  Let us all keep on with every effort beseeching the Almighty.

May our compassionate God drive away all our anguish, bestow health, and give us by the lovingkindness of the Father, the kingdom of the heavens.

Grant us this, O blessed Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the Holy Spirit, whose glory resounds in all the world.  Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr.Fidelis
Under the Microscope!

There is much to be observed when looking at a piece of Gregorian chant!  The Introit for Week 9 is a wonderful confident chant based on verses from Psalm 26. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

Take a look below.  First to be noted are the items circled in aqua.  IN.II tells us that this is the introit, and its in Mode 2.  You’ll see a series of letters below this information:  R B (greek letter) K S.  These letters represent the oldest Antiphonaries of the Mass, before notation of any kind was added.  In other words, these showed text only!
This same Introit’s text appeared in:
R = The Gradual of Rheinau (about 800)
B = The Gradual of Mont-Blandin – (8th to 9th century)
K = The Gradual of Corbie (after 853)
S = The Gradual of Senlis (between 877 and 882)
The clef is also an important item.   This is the FA clef, located on the 2nd line from the top.

The yellow box to the left of this information tells us that the neums above and below the square notation come from certain manuscripts.  The neums above come from the Laon Manuscript [ L ], folio or page number 150.

The notation below comes from the Einsiedeln manuscript [E ], folio or page 316.  What does all this mean?  It means the chant that we sing today, was a part of the liturgy used in the 800’s, and the text and tune together were found in 10th and 11th century manuscripts.  This living tradition has tap roots that go back centuries!

One more thing to note: there are two strategic pitches in any Gregorian chant; the reciting tone, and the home tone, or place where the chant “settles.”  A quick glance at our piece below shows us that this melody fluctuates between these two important pitches,dipping below and above.  The reciting pitch, FA is circled in red, while the home tone, RE is shown in green.

The more we look at these chants in depth, we realize we are handling something that has been the vehicle of the prayers and songs of the faithful for layers of time. In the chanting of them, we are transformed as they become our prayers and songs.
The Comuunity of Jesus

Live Generously

By Melodious Monk

In Eugene Peterson’s Idiomatic translation of the Gospel of Matthew, many of Jesus’ words come alive in a somewhat shocking way.  I pause to re-read and re-acknowledge the awesomeness of what Jesus brings us, and the duty that he calls us towards.  Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’  I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love you enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves…If you simply love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal?…”In a word, what I’m sayings is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

I’m slow to listen to Jesus’ call to “Grow up.”  I’d rather nurse old hurts, take jabs at my enemies and not work to give energies of prayer and peace to others, especially those people or circumstances that I would normally shy away from. God desires so much more fulfilment for my life then I can comprehend. After re-reading this whole chapter from Matthew, I’m shockingly aware of how much possibility there is for an outrageously fulfilling, adventurous, and hope-filled life. God offers such a life to us, if we choose to live inside His kingdom.

The Community of Jesus

 

A Need to Stretch

By Melodious Monk

I’m too small to understand much about God.  Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to ponder over a sermon from the 14th century.  Father John Tauler was a Dominican priest who taught that the way to union or friendship with God was through detachment from earthly matters. He said, “To be guided by one’s own light and not by God’s is the chief cause of our not attaining to union with God. There is an overmastering joy in self-guidance, even in spiritual matters; nature is intoxicated by this pleasure more than by any other; and withal, it is deceitful, and its hurtfulness too often remains hidden.”

I certainly strive to guide myself! I like to do things, to accomplish things, and to have things somewhat organized — not without change and variety mind you, for without could be boring and uninteresting! But I’d still rather have some foreknowledge of what’s coming so as to be prepared. And I do find joy in guiding myself through things…but at what cost?  Did my drive to accomplish a job today, even a job that may have been God’s will, cause me to miss being with Christ today?  And in the process of organizing and making the job happen, did I run over blessings God had intended for me or someone else, all in the name of finishing a “worthy” task?

“God’s friends are afflicted to the marrow of their bones as they see and hear the injury done to God and the harm to immortal souls by people’s affection for creatures, which is all too prevalent around them.”  I find this thought somewhat humorous when juxtaposed to the goal of loving ones neighbor, but nonetheless true. Our “affection for creatures” is very high, and takes a number of subtle forms, working hard, working for the joy of accomplishment, of self-worth, or looking for praise.  In getting this temporary joy and praise from other creatures, I find myself continually striving for more of this unrequited goal, pushing aside people and events that seem like interruptions.  I don’t stretch to think or pray about the hidden hurtfulness that this selfishness can cause.  I’m much too small to realize that God is in anything that comes into my day, yes, truly everything. He may be asking me to do more, or He may be sitting on the side of the road wishing I’d stop and sit with him a while.

The Community of Jesus