Mary and Martha in Chicago

By Sunset Septuagint

Have you seen the painting “The Scream”? I am currently on a trip to Chicago which began by travel on a full airplane which was late in landing. On arrival everyone immediately stood up, jamming the aisles while the passengers who had close connecting flights were fighting to get through to the front… What mayhem! Too bad there was no announcement for those not in a hurry to wait until the others got off.

Then I got in line to get a taxi…..there was a break in the barricade so wheelchairs could get through but behind the wheelchair others were cramming forward to get to the head of the line. Others ran to the end of the line behind the people waiting so they could hop into the cabs first without having to wait in line.

I am a very impatient person myself but this time I had no deadline so I started a conversation with a woman beside me in line and wound up telling her I was in Chicago for a doctor’s appointment. She asked the name of the doctor and when I told her, she said her father had the same surgeon and she told me how wonderful he was! Suddenly a weight of anxiety was miraculously lifted from my shoulders.

I thought of the Mary/Martha sermon last Sunday in church. It wasn’t the work that Martha was doing that was the problem but her anxiety and worry. By the grace of God alone for that moment in the taxi line, I was able to choose the better part to have a friendly chat with another person, and Jesus used the conversation with that woman to calm my fears!

Engraving by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Engraving by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Ponder In Our Hearts

By Sr. Nun Other

Advent is a time to pause and consider, to wait with patience as action builds and events unfold: an angel’s visit, a young woman’s obedience, and a husband’s acceptance; a journey to a hostile city, unwelcome and unprotected; shepherds and choirs of angels, noble kings bearing gifts, and a treacherous king bearing destruction. It’s only Act I and we are witness as a child-king is born into the hands of all mankind.

The Community of Jesus

When the road takes a sharp turn

By Renaissance Girl

I recently embarked on an adventure. I was starting something new that, actually, made me quite afraid.  It was outside of what seemed logical, and it forced me to ask God at every turn “what do I do?” It took some preparation, and each decision I made felt like I could be making a huge mistake — but it seemed like it was what God was asking, so I tried to do it. I wish I could say that I am familiar with living like this — abandoned to God — but I am not and that made it all the scarier, and yet at the same time, hopeful.

And then, suddenly, just when things were wrapped up, the road took a sharp turn. What I thought I was going to be starting didn’t work out. I find myself asking God what he intended in all of this, and what I should do now. What was the point of the preparation if only to run into a road-block?

I will tell you I don’t have answers yet. What I do know is that every day, every moment, is a choice. A choice to ask the question again and not retreat into anger and disappointment and accusation. A choice to trust, even when “logic” says to be skeptical, because if this didn’t work out, maybe the next thing won’t either. My pride desperately wants to save me from getting excited about something only to see it pass by.

I opened a card yesterday that someone had given me when I was preparing for this adventure. They included a prayer about trust — and in that moment I saw God. He knew I’d need this prayer even more in this moment — when I was most tempted to distrust:

Trust, you say, and so I will.  But at times its thread wears thin, and rubs raw the palms of my hands.  Yet I cling to it, for you have shown that in every circumstance, trust leads to Love eventually. Take the pieces of my life and make them one. Smooth the edges, mold the shapes until, with perfect symmetry, they interlock and become the “me” you long for. I can’t make this “me” puzzle fit, though I often try. Master Craftsman of body, mind, and spirit — let it be so, for I trust in you.”

The Community of Jesus

 

 

Not Just a Routine Christian

By Sr. Nun Other

Recent events revealed two important things to me: I rely heavily on routine, and I’m people dependent. I spent the early days of a recent Tuscany tour (pilgrimage, actually) re-defining my faith. I’m strong in my home environment, but when surrounded by the unfamiliar, not so much. While grateful for progress on my Christian walk, I realize I have miles of journey ahead to become fully grounded in Christ. As autumn transitions to winter, I trust and rely on His love, that spring waits on the other side.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

The Universal Language

For many years, music has been referred to as the “Universal Language” — speaking from “heart to heart.” Chant certainly has that quality.

On a recent trip to Italy, I found myself meeting delightful people–their personality simply gleamed through their smile or handshake. Yet, we had no pathway to communicate verbally. I only speak a few words of Italian, and the people I met, for the most part, spoke no English. However, part of that trip included chanting both the midday Divine Office and Compline. Many of those same people attended those services, along with our group from the United States.

What happened next amazed me. We opened our mouths to chant the Office, and suddenly we were speaking the same language and we actually knew what each other was saying. The week leading to these services had been both exciting and tiring, in part because daily communication posed problems that one never even considers at home. Yet, we were united in the same language of prayer and it seemed that for those minutes we chanted, we were united through the same language and music.

This is a very important aspect of Gregorian chant and one which, if we give ourselves to it, will lift us from our daily routine and bring us together with God through sung prayer.

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Credit for photo

www.travel.justmarvelousworld.com

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

Chant “back then”

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling to the city of Barga located in the northern part of Italy. As part of that travel, our chant schola chanted the midday office and compline in a church which was constructed and then added to over the course of several centuries. Towering above us in this church was a 12th century wooden statue of St. Christopher, still bearing its own wounds from centuries of war and unrest made visible in the arrowheads still in its torso.

As we chanted, I was struck by the thought that when that statue and that church were new, it is quite likely that chants we were praying were also relatively new. We were actually chanting in the surroundings in which these chants first came to life! Listening in this extraordinary building, the acoustic “told us” the tempo to take, allowed us to hear and experience the building of harmonies which hung in the air like incense, and gave us a sense that this chant had been heard in this room many thousands of times. The span of centuries was instantly crossed as we joined our voices with those voices of chant from “back then” – when the voice of the church was much younger and yet full of all the years that it would carry through. It made me realize again that we have the privilege every time we chant, of joining instantly with all of those centuries of prayer.

013-chants-of-the-priest.july 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In The Present And Accounted For

By Sr. Nun Other

I visited someone this week, two years younger, who embraces life with enthusiasm. She’s an artist, loves to travel, and is a natural teacher who uses her gifts to help others. This time, she spoke of growing old and not handling it well. High blood pressure, a sudden onset of eye floaters, and a back-related fall recently required medical assistance. All of the medical personnel she encountered were young and used the phrase “this is quite common in a woman your age.” Ouch. Then information from Medicaid arrived in my mail. I understand her struggle. I went (go) through it myself. While singing the Wednesday’s morning office, I encountered these encouraging words: They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. Psalm 92:13,14

To all of us of a certain age – isn’t a sunset every bit as beautiful as a sunrise and just as essential?

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Photo By Sr. Huai-Kuang Miao

In Times of Plenty

By Sr. Nun Other

I’m rethinking my personal definition of times of plenty. It isn’t about having, getting, or owning.  It isn’t about money or the best of anything. It’s about the presence of God’s love, protection and care.

I’m enjoying a time of plenty and here’s some practical evidence: recently, along with two more sisters (and the generosity of others), I went to Fenway Park. It was a perfect game day, blue skies and a comfortable seventy-one degrees. Our drive to Boston was uneventful until we searched for a parking place. I’m not good in traffic. I sit in the back by popular demand and have to ask the driver permission to speak. “Do you want me to tell you that you almost hit a pole?” That sort of thing. We pulled from bumper to bumper traffic into a lot. The attendant quoted a price ten dollars higher than anticipated and announced they only took credit cards. As sisters, we don’t carry them. Except this time . . Enter God’s love . .  one of us had a VISA Gift Card she’d been given for her birthday. That worked. Next we went to dinner and ordered specialty burgers. I specified that I didn’t want the caramelized onions. When our orders arrived, I immediately noted onions among my mushrooms and Boursin cheese. The waiter noticed also and offered me a new burger. I thanked him but said I’d just pick them out, no problem. When he brought the bill, he told us my dinner was free. We recouped the extra $10 for parking. The game included amazing defensive plays, outstanding pitching and a Red Sox win, more rare this season than last.

Perhaps these sound like small things. Perhaps they are. But right now, for whatever reason, I’m especially cognizant of God’s presence in my life. Work problems, strained relationships, things simply beyond my ability to control rest in his hands. When I admit my need and recognize my complete inadequacy, I grow in faith and trust.

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Beauty Behind

By Renaissance Girl
 
I drove home last night from a lesson. It was 6:30 PM, and I remarked to myself how light it still was. The first few miles my primary focus was my GPS, guiding me around small streets to find the highway. When I hit the highway I could breathe and relax — straight shot from here. And then I noticed the sunset. In my rear view mirror streaks of pink and orange lit up the road as I passed over it, and brought the trees out in stark contrast. I wanted to be facing the other way, I wanted to indulge in the beauty, which wasn’t an option. I passed a sudden opening in the trees — a window on to a small lake. The color seemed to come from within the water itself, ripples of gold and pink and yellow that merged the sky and the water together.  
 
I think I may have even said out loud “I wish I could stop.”  And the thought came to me — sometimes we have to leave beauty behind. Sometimes it’s just there for us to catch on the way to something else — a sudden splash of glory that inspires a smile and a deep breath and the knowledge that God is All Beautiful. How silly of me to think I’m going to catch it all, and save it in a frame. Within 15 minutes, the colors were gone, but not my reminder of what God is always doing whether I notice or not, and my gratitude that I was there for this one.
 
homebound

Epiphany Reflection

By Sr. Nun Other 

The Star was God’s birth announcement to the world, beckoning unbelievers to meet His Son. It has been said that the Magi each received a gift for their sacrifice: Caspar, who offered gold, the gift of charity; Melchior, the bearer of myrrh, humility and truth; and Balthasar, for frankincense (symbol of prayer), the gift of faith. They knew without “knowing” and followed without question.
 
My personal prayer for 2014 is to follow each Star that leads to Jesus, without demanding to first know the outcome.
 
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