Free and Clear

By Sr. Nun Other

There’s a once popular song called On a Clear Day, whose words read in part:

On a clear day, rise and look around you
And you’ll see who you are.
You can hear from far and near
A word you’ve never heard before.
And on a clear day, on a clear day
You can see forever, and ever (etc.)

We’ve all experienced such days, when the sun defines and illumines all within its touch.The beauty and simplicity encourage, renew energy, and lift me from a negative fascination with problems.

I was thinking about this and a correlating scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:12,  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 

To view life clear of judgments, opinions, fluctuating emotions, and past misfortunes is a freedom well worth pursuing.

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

 

 

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
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

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Ascended 

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him ascend into heaven.”

The Mode 1 Offertory for Thursday’s Ascension contains a melismatic passage on the word “ascend” that is word painting in sound. Its “startling” leaps span an octave, with many thirds and fifths, all sung in a light and floating manner, according to the ancient notation.  One can only imagine the clouds parting and swirling as he rose from their sight.  Listen to this amazing piece, one of the great gems of the Gregorian repertory.

The Community of Jesus

 

The True and Only Vine

By Sr. Nun Other

One of the Sisters suggested I write a blog called “bloom after pruning,” and she even provided a great picture!  She referred, of course, to the parable that portrays Jesus as the True Vine and God the Father as the Vine Dresser. Jesus says in John 15: 1-2, that He’ll remove every branch that bears no fruit, and prune the fruitful branches so that they bear more fruit. It’s a scripture I approach with caution, and not an experience I wait in line for. When one of my irregular branches is trimmed, usually through circumstance, I then have difficulty identifying who I am. I’m like a wibble-wobble toy without a fixed foundation — no idea how or where I’ll land.  Advice to me: keep reading. In subsequent verses, Jesus counsels His branches to (paraphrased), “Abide in me, abide in my love, until your journey is complete. Follow my commandments, as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and if you do, your joy will be complete.” It’s a passage more about relationship than pain–an intertwining of love, obedience, and joy — each dependent on the other — until we become not servants, but friends. So I’d like to modify my friend’s suggestion ever so slightly to say it’s possible to bloom during pruning.

The Community of Jesus

A Gift is Coming

By Melodious Monk

Even a brief watching of the nightly news shows a world in need, and inwardly, we are never far from a spiritual battle between our human natures and God’s divine purposes.  Here we are at Ascension, a time when Jesus tried to explain to his closest followers why he had to leave them.  He said, “If I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.”  The word Advocate can be derived from the Greek word Parakletos, also phrased as “one called alongside.” Or, as the NIV translates the word, “one who speaks in our defense.”  I forget regularly that Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, our advocate, to help, to comfort, and to defend us.  As the season of Easter is fading away, we have a great gift coming from Jesus. A gift I want to learn more about. In moments of need, I want to learn to gain strength and trust by following this Advocate’s counsel.

The Community of Jesus