On A Positive Note

by Sr Nunother  

I have an “out with the old, in with the new” personality. I’m neither nostalgic for nor sentimental about things past. For me, a new year stands shining on the horizon, waiting to be lived. In contemplating 2014, the words of English pastor and hymn writer Edward Mote came to mind:  

My hope is built on nothing less 
than Jesus blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, 
but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
 
May your new year be filled with hope and trust in Christ, our solid rock and redeemer.
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A New Years Hymn

sby Melodius Monk  

The Christmas season is full of all types of carols and hymns. Many of these songs’ texts we sing every year, but among the refrains and verses we know by heart, are some beautiful images. I’ve strung together a few of these phrases from well known songs; phrases that had me pause. I hope I can hang on to their substance and discover more of their mystery going into this new year. My hope for this year is to live life not being afraid to love! A Happy New Year to everyone!

Who then shall stir in this darkness?
God will give himself into our lives
Meek souls will receive him
Where charity stands watching
and faith holds wide the door,
Bringing God’s love and power.

O Renew us, Lord, we pray
with thy spirit day by day
Let every heart prepare him room
This child, this little helpless boy,
shall be our confidence and joy!

O Hush the noise and cease your strife
He comes to make his blessings flow
He calls you one and calls you all
He hath opened heaven’s door.

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Advent

by Renaissance Girl

 
I stood outside this weekend welcoming guests who were coming for our Advent Teas, Bake Shop and Advent Service of Lessons and Carols. It reminded me why Advent is my favorite season. It’s not the shopping and sales and pressure to get all the right things. It’s the feeling of hope – the anticipation of something good being on its way, something that will change your life for the better. I could see it on people’s faces and it moved and inspired me – an open, child-like expectancy. Not frivolous but confident.
 
One woman came up to see the life-sized nativity with her 3-year old son. After spending some moments with the shepherds, we walked into the church. An almost inaudible “oh boy” escaped him and it was like watching a child in a toy store. He ran around exploring and touching mosaics, the bronze bowls of the font – full of questions and exclamations – seeing everything for the first time. Maybe this is what this season is about – letting go of the pressures and expectations we have on ourselves and our families, and being open to a new and hope-filled expectation of the one who is coming to save us.
 
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The Hard, Long Struggle

by Renaissance Girl 

“Our heart is corrupt. It is our human inheritance; the fruit of personal choices. It demands a hard, long struggle, but we are not alone.”

I found these words from our daily devotional both sobering and a little hopeful.  I don’t like to admit that my heart is corrupt — especially that it is the “fruit of personal choices.”  I can’t even throw the blame on someone else.  So much of my energy is spent trying to prove that I’m “good” but there’s a flaw in my thinking — a childish view of good and bad.  It’s not about trying to be good to stay out of trouble.  As someone recently pointed out, Jesus came for sinners so why would I fight so hard to prove that I’m NOT the very thing that qualifies me for a relationship with him?  So I roll up my sleeves for the struggle and cling to the fact that I am not alone.
 
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Lessons From Puck

 
Elements Theatre Company just finished a run of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream.”  I played the part of Puck — a fairy and servant to Oberon, King of Fairies.  It was a  great journey, finding and embodying this character.  For our final shows, our director Sr.Danielle, asked us what about our character did we want to celebrate in our performance.  I thought about Puck and looked back at his evolution.  Traditionally, Puck is played as a sprightly character, innocently making mistakes on orders Oberon gives him. Our Puck was a bit darker, reveling in the chaos created by his blunders.  But what makes him endearing and inspiring, is his ability to completely move on after making huge mistakes.  He endures the wrath of Oberon and, in the next breath, eagerly receives his next assignment.  I saw such courage in this.  To barrel into whatever task is given, fail gloriously, and eagerly charge headlong into the next task.  For now, Puck has returned to the pages of Shakespeare’s script, but hopefully not without leaving a bit of his spirit with me.  
 
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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

by Sr Fidelis  
 
Title:  The Final Pair!
 

We’ve finally reached the SOL Modes – 7 and 8.  This week we’ll focus on Mode 7, which recites on RE, and has a Home Tone of SOL.

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 If you listen to the SOL to SOL scale, you’ll discover it has a major sound, and with the exception of one interval (MI to FA), it is like the DO Scale that we all know so well.  How can this be?  It is because the modal scales are based on a series of whole and half steps in various positions.  The arrangement in the SOL scale is very much like that of the DO scale.

Try singing along using the solfege names.

 
The Mode 7 “snippet” is  the opening of a most beloved chant, “In Paradisum”, sung at the end of the Office of the Dead, while the casket of the deceased is taken from the Church.  It acts as a benediction at the end of the service.
 

Now listen to this antiphon in it’s entirety, followed by Psalm114, sung in Mode 7.

 
You should be able to hear the Reciting Tone, RE, because the majority of notes sung during each psalm verse are on that very note.
 
 
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Faults

by Melodius Monk   

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate being wrong. I want to run from it and the humiliation I feel as quickly and as permanently as possible. This weekend a friend pointed out a job I didn’t do as I had been asked. Oops. It turns out I was wrong.
 
The next morning, still struggling with my embarrassment, but ready to give it another try, I stumbled on a book while waiting for the coffee to brew. I randomly opened it hoping to occupy my sleepy brain with something. I opened to a chapter called Dealing with our Faults. I read:
 
“We must be neither amazed or disheartened (at our faults). We are not more wicked than we were. We are really less so, but while our evil diminishes, our light increases, and we are struck with painful dismay at its extent. We must not be discouraged either …discouragement is not the fruit of humility, but of pride. Nothing can be worse. Suppose we have stumbled, or even fallen. Let us rise and run again. All our falls are useful if they strip us of a disastrous confidence in ourselves, while they do not take away a humble and saving trust in God”    – Francois Fenelon
 
Maybe it was a good day after all.
 
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I Am Indebted

by Melodius Monk  

As part of our community’s call to ecumenism, the choir regularly sings music across many cultures and faith traditions. In this weekend’s concert, among others, we will visit regions of Denmark and Norway. We will be singing lyrics of a Danish pastor and hymn writer, set to music by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. I would like to share some of the text from the second movement, titled “The Son of God hath set me free.” I find this text engaging and challenging, especially in the aftermath of a very unsettling week for our country.
 
Now I commend myself unto God
despite the snake a thousand times!
Let Him just stand and see me go
clad in the crimson clothes of freedom.
What good it doth my heart
to follow the voice of Jesus on the path of truth,
past all evil, to carefree Heaven!
Don’t let the world believe
yet again it can make me blind…..
No, I am too indebted
to play sin’s game of chance;
I whistle at the tempting food,
and look to heaven with joy.
 
.….My death is the ferryman
unto the solid ground of life;
the Lord Sabaoth, His own castle,
yes, it is for ever good.
Although the wind is oft against, mortifying the sprightly blood,…..
yes, the shape of the cross is precisely the sign to the proper realm of freedom.
The Son of God hath set me free.

                    –Hans Adolph Brorson

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

 
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“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”….. “For this I was born, and for this I came into the wold, to testify to the truth”.

 Where Jesus is, Truth is always present. A phrase that is found repeatedly in the Paschal liturgy is, Surrexit Dominus vere. The Lord is risen….in fact, truly, really, actually. Out of the ruins of his life’s end, the total immolation of his body, and the finality of his last breath came the resurrection — truly.
 

Tragedy struck very near to home last week. As we were praying and grieving for our fellow brothers and sisters in Boston, I was reminded again that God builds out of ruins. The seeming triumph of evil is not the end of the story. The power of his resurrection will bring wholeness to everyone who was touched by Monday’s devastation — truly.

The Invitatory Psalm Antiphon, Surrexit Dominus vere, from the Night Office of Matins, can be heard with the first segment of Psalm 95.

Surrexit Dominus

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Late Have I Loved You

 
There is a story that after Jesus’ Resurrection there was a young angel up in heaven who was distressed that Jesus tarried so long on the earth.

 

The fledgling could not understand why his Victorious King should want to spend another minute with the race of men who had so disquieted Him. “Why,” he asked. “Does the Glorious Conquer not immediately return to Heaven where we all so anxiously await Him, poised to fete Our Lord with trumpet and song?” It is said that God the Father took care that the youngster be instructed and sent the Holy Spirit to explain how lovely God’s creation was, how God Himself had imbued it with His Own Stamp, and how His Son, like Himself held it most dear. 

 
But still the youth wondered. He protested that there was not one of those men who had not tarnished what had been given him, not one who, even having had his transgressions so lavishly paid for, would not, in time, sin again, and not one, even among His so-called friends, who had truly known who He was. “Why should the Giver of All Life continue to waste His time on those half-wits?” inquired the inexperienced youth. Time, explained the Spirit patiently, was the Father’s own gift. “Together,” said the Holy Comforter, “We employ Time to draw to Ourselves, however slowly, however fitfully, each soul who is searching to find again the Blessed Brightness, each soul who, it turns out, will always need Us, and each soul who knows that they have known a Love they have forgotten, and long to find again. And, with Time,” the Comforter concluded. “You may find that Wisdom Herself may come to the slow-witted and even to the young.”

 
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