Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

by Cantor

A Treasure in our hands

Last evening, I had a marvelous opportunity to speak with a religious sister who does a great deal of work with chant both in her community and as a ready and willing research aid for others. We were sharing stories of how we got involved with chant and the rare opportunity chant has offered both of us in meeting such a vast range of people!
 
She relayed a story of a trip to Rome to visit “some of the great treasures of the church”. She noted to me that she told the group she was leading, “that with chant, we carry one of the greatest treasures of the church in our hands, in our mouths, and in our hearts”.
 
Advent, with all its extraordinary chants, is a marvelous time to remind ourselves of this treasure, and offer our best efforts in bringing that treasure to the church as a whole.
 
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A Gift

 by Renaissance Girl

I received a special gift this past week. I’m about as white, Anglo-Saxon as they come – Irish, Swedish, Scottish three generations back, but my friends have teased me about having some Russian Orthodox blood in me. Ever since visiting Russia with the choir in 1998, and then again with our youth group in 2002, I have hoped to go back someday. There is something about it that I love – a depth and history to the country and the people that just grabs hold of your heart. Especially in worship. I’ve never seen people so eager to be close to the Eucharist – so unconscious of the personal space that we Americans fight to preserve. They press in and past each other to draw close to the altar. And their music – impossible to describe with words how years of persecution and perseverance and love pour out in achingly beautiful harmonies.

So earlier this week, I happened to mention to a friend that I was wanting to pray the rosary, something I used to do as a teenager, but had lost my rosary years ago. The next morning she showed up at work and said “I have these two rosaries if you’d like to use one.” She handed me a red, knotted rope with beads and said “this one was blessed by the Patriarch.”

It’s been in my pocket and passed through my fingers since then. It helps find words for what’s in my heart.

 
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Seasons


 
Seasons

 
The air has the first hints of that autumn crispness that comes with the change of season. People carry on as if they don’t notice; visitors to the Cape set up on a piece of beach to eke out the last bit of vacation. But the change is there. Knowing Cape Cod, we’ll probably be blasted with one final heat wave just when we think fall has arrived to stay.
 
It’s amazing the subtle signs we learn to read that tell us change is coming. The gradual change in the morning light, just a bit darker at 6 a.m. now. The slow, almost imperceptible change of color in the green of the tree leaves and plants. The flourishing of garden vegetables planted in early summer.  And the sudden and refreshing change in temperature.
 
This is sometimes how God works with us as he changes us. We go through seasons and our “color” changes slightly or an inner garden suddenly flourishes. I had the chance to work on the Community grape vines this weekend and I couldn’t help but think about all this, as I chopped off stray vines that were sucking life away from the fruit. It was satisfying to clear away the pieces not needed to give the fruit a better chance as we look forward to the season for picking and stomping. Perhaps I could be a bit less protective when God tries to clear away my excess vines.  
 
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No Carbon Copies

by Sr Nunother  

Two other sisters and I were given Red Sox tickets for Christmas.  Our game is coming up and I’m researching transportation. I’d like to take the bus to Boston, the T to Fenway, and avoid parking space stress — chances are, I’ll be out voted. I already know it’ll be a great day as this is a yearly event, thanks to a wonderful friend. The two sisters and I get along well, which is probably a miracle. One is Italian Catholic, one episcopalian and I’m scottish Presbyterian. We range in personality from very outgoing and gregarious, to mildly adventurous, to me — introverted and careful. They’ll want to roam the ball park, move closer to the field, and perhaps hang over the rail to beg an autograph. I can’t wait to find my seat. One makes friends instantly, while I forge relationships over a number of years. (When I return from buying a Fenway frank, our whole row will know each other.) Did I mention our trio includes a Yankees fan? This fall I’ll put on my Red Sox slippers, she’ll grab her Yankee throw pillow and we’ll watch the playoffs. Somehow, like our life together, it all works.

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On The Road

 
We were on the way
our minds still reeling from the events
of the past week.
Everything happened so fast
We had thought he was the promised one.
Never in our minds was it supposed to end like it did.
 
Then came the stranger,
apparently unaware of all that happened in the city.
We shared our burden and he in turn 
related the events to the scriptures.
Our hearts burned within us as he spoke.
 
When the time came to part ways in the late afternoon
we asked him to join us at the evening meal.
And there it happened, as we broke the bread, our eyes
were opened. We saw that it was Jesus who had been with us
on the way.
 
The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Familiar and poignant.
How could they have not recognized Jesus sooner? 
 
There seem to be times when I have been so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I lose sight of the larger picture. Sometimes a little distraction breaks the ice in my heart, and a ray of light gets into my room. A pretty bird lands on the limb outside the window; or the dog comes up to me and licks my hand. I become aware that I am not alone. In some subtle way Jesus has entered the room, and I recognize that He is near. Herein lies the joy of Easter. He has risen, and entered the everyday paths of my life.
 
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Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen

by Gourmet Nun            

The cold weather is really upon us. We have a crusty covering of snow and the wind is blowing in off the bay right across the common. I love the cold and all the great food that goes with it. I recently had the challenge of feeding a construction crew at a mountain site and it was really cold up there, so I wanted to give them hot lunches or at least hot soup. The challenge was that the cooking facilities were a distance away, and I needed to transport hot soup to a really cold place. I wrapped a big pot in a blanket in a cooler with two big rocks heated in the oven on either side. It worked — it was almost too hot to eat! And the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches we put in there also stayed warm. The crew was very happy! My recipe today is the corn chowder I served on the mountain. It’s enough for a crowd of 12 hungry men.

Mountain Corn Chowder

2 pounds breakfast sausage
2 large onions
1 Tablespoon thyme
6 cups Vegetable stock
6 russet potatoes, peeled or scrubbed well and diced
45 oz each — canned and creamed corn  (6 cans total)
Milk as desired
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cook sausage, breaking up with a spoon until chunky and brown. Remove from pot to a paper towel-lined plate or pan. Cook onions in the sausage fat left behind in the pot until almost translucent, then add thyme and cook a couple of minutes longer. Add potatoes and vegetable stock and cook until potatoes are just tender. Add drained canned corn and creamed corn and browned sausage. Add milk to desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Enjoy!

 

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye 

I read a book recently whose author had written Acknowledgements which went on for several pages. I read every word of this seeming excess. Not only were the author’s friends and colleagues, whom I had never heard of, enumerated there but the author also included a whole host of philosophers, theologians, artists, and saints with whom I am familiar. These mentors and models constitute an incredibly rich spiritual heritage; a heritage I share. These are people in whose company I feel both very small and very tall.

I imagine this crowd, both the living and the dead, spread out like a vast army of souls journeying to be with God. I see each one carrying a light as they travel the highways and the by ways, the high roads, the low roads, the detours, the switchbacks, the wrong ways and even the dead ends. Some of this company bare great lights and others carry only small ones. As I stare after them I realize that there is nothing else I want to do but grab my little flash light and run after them all because I can not bear the thought of being left behind.

Homecoming

by Renaissance Girl

Gloriae Dei Cantores returns home after our 17-day tour, and it will be autumn on the Cape -– my favorite season.  I can imagine the crisp air off the water of Rock Harbor, the crunch of leaves under foot and the smell of wood burning in the outdoor fireplace. I will be happy to see my little niece, probably looking a little different two weeks later -– they change so fast when they’re only two months old.  And I can’t wait to see my dog, even though I know already what that greeting will be -– a quick jump, then the ball drop at my feet and the impatient bark demanding I make up for lost time.  And our church… It’s funny how I miss it when I travel…the familiar faint scent of incense, the colors and textures, and the familiarity of Lauds and Eucharist and Evensong.  We will all return to “normal” (if there is such a thing), and slip gently back into the rhythm of daily life. Twenty-four hours will go by and it will seem like we never left.  Maybe this is what the Psalmist was trying to capture when he wrote “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by” (Psalm 90:4). In a strange way it’s somewhat comforting — that while I’m busy stressing about today, God is already working out tomorrow.

 

Longing

 by Renaissance Girl  

I think I’ve always known that absence makes the heart grow fonder — i just didn’t realize I would feel that way, on tour deep in Texas, about Eucharist.  We’ve been on the road now over a week with Gloriae Dei Cantores and I found myself about two days ago feeling a hole inside, and was surprised to find I was missing our church and longing for Eucharist.  I’m not surprised to miss our church, but I love to travel. And honestly, I’m just not sure I’ve ever felt this yearning for Eucharist. Our Rule of Life calls Eucharist the “principal expression of worship” and “central to our life as a fellowship, and to each of us as individual members.” The placement of the altar in our church says that here is where we find our sustaining food for the journey — this act of receiving the body and blood of Christ is of utmost importance.  So I am surprised, but maybe pleasantly so, that I feel a bit un-tethered without it.  And then, today, we had Eucharist, in a quiet little hotel meeting room in Lubbock, TX.  “The body of Christ, the blood of Christ” was heard as we held out eager hands, and the ultimate gift of love answered longing.

Traveling Prayers

 by Melodius Monk

For many years, one of my favorite prayers has been the Rosary. Recently I find I’m especially drawn to it when traveling. I’m not sure why, but when packing for a trip, I always remember to grab my Rosary. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to pray, and the rhythm and consistency of the Rosary puts me at ease. There’s also something about having the Rosary in my hand that helps me to pray. Sure it’s only a small bead rolling between my fingers, but I’m aware, and surprised at the security this gives me. It reminds me that there is something solid to put my hope in today, even if I feel shaky.