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

Back to Heaven

By Melodious Monk

“Back to Heaven”
I’ll go back to heaven again. Hand in hand with the dew That melts at a touch of the dawning day,
I’ll go back to heaven again. With the dusk, together, just we two, at a sign from a cloud after playing on the slopes
I’ll go back to heaven again. At the end of my outing to this beautiful world I’ll go back and say: It was beautiful…
By Ch’ôn Sang Pyong

I wonder what I will say when I arrive at heaven’s door — will it be words of thanks? Ch’ôn was a Korean poet who suffered greatly in his life from brutal torture as a prisoner, and from alcoholism. But Ch’ôn was said to be a very happy man despite all of his hardships. There’s a reassuring simplicity to his words and his poetry reflects a hope that grew out of him through his struggles.

This Easter season, through the power and miracle of the resurrection, God has given us a perpetual chance to live, repent, and keep living, with-in and as His creation.  As the weather warms, and the earth starts to grow again, we should take time to notice and appreciate what he has given us—for all creation is beautiful!

The Community of Jesus

 

Three Lenten Threads

By Sr. Nun Other

I was listening at our Lauds service today. (I don’t always and am easily lured into thinking and re-thinking my own agenda.) But today, three phrases begged me to listen. From Luke 1, the Benedictus: to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins; the Lenten Reading for Wednesday: Is not our Lord just now ready to bless you? To increase your faith, and love, and patience, and gentleness? (Charles Wesley); and finally, the Collect for the Day: You crown the merits of the saints and pardon sinners when they repent. Lent is power-packed with hope. Salvation, forgiveness, and the freedom to repent, open a corridor to Easter’s joy.

The Community of Jesus

Words

By Melodious Monk

Today I woke up angry at God, wishing for another Labor Day, wanting to sleep more, and wondering why it was so humid again. Trying to rev up for the day, but still feeling a bit grumpy, I thumbed through a daily devotional by Hal M. Helms, stopping at today’s date.

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?       -Jeremiah 23:29

My word is like a hammer, breaking up the hardened crust of your heart. I want you to have a tender, feeling heart, able to be touched with the pain and sorrow of others. You have built up walls of deadness around your heart to protect you from pain and to avoid looking weak. Your weakness, My child, is My gift to you. Your strength is your rejection of that gift. There is a world of difference between your strength and Mine. I will show you that difference when this breaking and hammering have done their work. 

After a few slow breaths, and a silent Amen, I’m now ashamed to be angry at God. I have so much faith to gain. There’s a constant war inside. I say Amen to these words, and in the next moment fight to keep the crust of self-protection around my heart. I hate feeling weak. It makes me angry, aggressive and selfish.  But as Fr. Hal reminds me, the weakness is a gift from God, a loving force telling me it’s okay to not have it all together. I need to allow God’s Word to be the fire, strength, and comfort that it is meant to be.

The Community of Jesus

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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Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

I recently embarked on a project which, frankly, I was sure was going to fail. So convinced was I of its imminent demise, that I had essentially already dug a hole to bury it in. I don’t like to fail. Only the intervention of some perceptive friends kept me from giving up the effort all together.

Sunday’s gospel was the story of Jesus raising the son of the Widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-25) Sunday’s preacher described a lively tableau of the scene which included two characters who, after the miracle had taken place, were left to go and fill in the hole they had dug for the now no-longer-dead man. Joyful work that, filling in the holes we’ve dug ourselves to bury the people and projects, ideals and ideas we’ve given up hope in.
 
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About Walls

 
It does not take much for me to put up walls. When I was a young boy I used to help my father build walls in our yard. I would struggle to select a stone and carry it over to see if he could use it. We worked for hours; often with very little conversation. It was one of the few ways I felt close to him. 
 
I am still building walls, but their intention is often to hold people off. The truth is that my walls do not protect me or ensure my safety, and I could easily end up walling myself into a prison of my own making. Some of my walls have been there a long time. They are encrusted with lichen, and not just adornment on my landscape. They have been there long enough to become my earth. And so it may take time to dismantle these walls. But stone by stone, they begin to slip off. I say let process continue. May my walls come tumbling down.

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

by Sr Fidelis                

The Lenten Journey

We’ve begun to embark on a journey that will lead us to the great commemoration of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. This time of formation is also known as Quadragesimae – Latin for “forty days.” The first official reference to Lent as a period of forty days’ preparation is found in teachings of the Council of Nicaea in 325. 

On Ash Wednesday, we were marked with the sign of the cross, marked with ash  — a vivid reminder that God is our creator, and we are the creature. Each day brings us reminders of our dependence on him. The Lenten journey is a time of inner reflection and repentance, but also a time of joy, and  greater understanding of God’s watch- care over us.  The Gregorian chants we’ll be looking at and listening to are full of these truths!

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Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

I love the magnificent mystery of Epiphany. The feast inhabits my imagination: a brocade slipper stepping in the stable mud, the glint of gold dropped in the straw, an exotic fragrance clinging to the swaddling cloth. These glimpses of earthly majesty upon their knees bring my own self conceits to repentance and lift my ordinary impulses to a higher purpose.

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

I take great pleasure in the gifts of nature that I often encounter when I go walking, so much so that sometimes I go looking for them. Like today, I was really hoping I would see a deer along the path where I have recently seen some. When they weren’t there I was surprised at my own disappointment. I didn’t realize how much I was counting on their being there. I thought to myself, “I’m a little tired today, I guess I was looking for a lift.” It also occurred to me that a little unresolved disagreement needed to be addressed . . . a weight I didn’t need to keep carrying around. That confession made and that resolution made, an entire family of White-tailed deer broke from the cover of a thicket right in front of me and went leaping across the fields with unspeakable beauty and grace.