Reconciliation

By Sunset Septuagint

I am blessed to be working on an international Symposium on Ecumenism and the Arts occurring in 2017, the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reformation, in four countries and six different cities. I have been asking the Lord to give me the vision of the significance of this event in our time.

The world situation is certainly more dangerous than at any other time in my lifetime, and maybe ever, with the capability of a nuclear holocaust. And yet, we have recently had a reconciliation brought about after 1,000 years – that of the encounter between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Finally! We are brothers,” the Pope exclaimed. Seemingly, this meeting took place because of the persecution of Christians worldwide. One Orthodox cleric said, “We need to put aside internal disagreements at this tragic time…”

So hopefully in these dark days with the rise of secularism growing, the light of Christ will shine ever more brightly – that we might all be one!
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill

Holy Desire

By Sr. Spero

The entire life of a Christian is an exercise in holy desire.  St. Augustine

The Lauds reading this morning was from St. Augustine—about stretching our souls through holy desire.  He used the illustration of a wineskin, the forerunner of the wine bottle, that could be stretched to hold more wine. I’ve never had to stretch a wineskin, but I’ve put too much in a suitcase, and been very grateful for a top zipper that expands my space. So I understand the concept.

St. Augustine’s point is that we are containers, of one sort or another, that should expand and stretch so that God can use us more and more. We do this through holy desire. As we desire God, we are being stretched, to be able to hold more of Him. I suspect spiritual stretching is like physical stretching. It takes effort, it’s sometimes painful, but always worth it. Lord, help me to desire you more and more, and not be surprised when I feel the stretching.

Vineyards at the Community of Jesus

Meant to soar

A month ago today Yoshio Inomata, one of our vowed brothers, entered the paradise chapter of his life. Yoshio is from Japan, so in addition to the usual monastic traditions around the liturgies and proceedings, we knew there would be special touches – flowers in the church, food at the reception – from his homeland. At the graveside, we always have a special time of telling stories and placing flowers as we fill the grave. In the middle of December flowers are rare to be found, so some of us had the idea of having the kids make paper cranes for Yoshio. They did a beautiful job, and we had baskets full of the brightly colored birds they passed around to all of us gathered there. As I watched everyone place their birds in the earth with Yoshio, the antithesis struck me: Yoshio’s soul and spirit were flying to heaven even as his body was placed in the earth, and these birds—meant to soar—buried there with him. I suddenly remembered this poem that another of our members had written years ago. Requiescat in pace, Yoshio!

With hollow bones a bird learns how to fly
Not once despising frame all delicate,
But pushed without the nest his wings to try,
Fast finds the air till flight’s inveterate –
And pauses not to ponder nor to care
How fragile are his limbs amidst his flight,
But boldly lifts his wings against the air
And mounts the wind all ignorant of fright.
And so each day, until he dies, he lives.
He soars aloft, aloud, and all replete,
Content with gifts that his Creator gives,
His weakness making all his life complete.
                Who curses frailty wisdom needs implore,
                For only those whose bones are hollow soar.

Peace Cranes for Yoshio

Abundant life

By Melodius Monk

Ever ask yourself the question, is this all life has to offer? Coming off the “holiday” season (you know the one that was supposed to make you feel peace and joy?) or the start of the New Year (when I realize that all of the grand resolutions I vowed to fix in my world may either be impossible, or not part of God’s timing)—perhaps this is a time when this question surfaces! It’s like when you work really hard planning a dinner party: the dinner happens—ends—and I’m left feeling disappointed. The party was fun, really fun in fact and enjoyed by all, but two days later I’m sad it’s over and start to wonder how long it will be until the next enjoyable moment in life. Instead of savoring the fun evening, I start to think if only I had prepared a little better for the party, maybe the feeling of satisfaction would have lasted a whole week instead of two days. Maybe next time I can buy better wine, or not invite so and so, or have the bruschetta just a little crisper, or add one more desert (even though we already had four, but I didn’t know my friend was off sugar)!

My guess is I’m not alone in this waste of time search for the ever elusive “more” in life.  In her story-filled book, Sister Bridget Haase answers my questioning with a swift and simple belief.  She writes, “You do not need to seek abundant life anywhere else. It is right here, right now, under our feet, and in the air we breathe. This is all there is to life and it is quite enough.”

This often inexhaustible search for more in life can manifest itself in small and large ways. God has planted within each of us exactly what we need for a full and abundant life. In her book Generous Faith, Sr. Bridget teaches us that this type of faith “compels us to mine, with integrity, fortitude, and abundance, the faith within each of us.” She continues; “We, too, are created to savor and enjoy every moment of life. Unfortunately we do just the opposite. When we shower, we plan the day’s schedule rather than simply feel the rush of water on our shoulders. When we smell a gardenia, we draw up future plans for a garden rather than just let the fragrance bless us. When we sit by a stream in a local park, we wish we were at a popular mountain resort, far away from our daily routine and duty, rather than hear the gurgling gift of flowing water. When we see flowering lilac bushes in the spring, do we begin a summer countdown or linger over the beauty of lilacs? When watermelon juice runs down our chin, do we wonder if mangoes would have tasted better?”

Though I believe Sr. Bridget’s words to be true, I need regular reminders that God makes no mistakes, and that in Jesus I will be given precisely what I need each day for a full and abundantly rich life.

"Roses" by Leonid Afremov

“Roses” by Leonid Afremov

“We have seen his star in the East…”

By Sr. Fidelis

…. and have come with gifts to worship the Lord”.

This simple Communion for the Solemn Feast of Epiphany is a gem in miniature.  A wonderful example of Mode 4, the first phrase literally “paints” a picture of the wise men’s long journey with drops of a 4th, giving it an exotic flair.

The second phrase peaks on the word venimus (have come), and again gently descends a 4th as it leads to its final resting place on the words adorare Dominum (worship the Lord).

VidimusStellam

What Does Christmas Bring?

by Melodius Monk

One thing it brings is a lot of expectations — and this isn’t either good or bad, rather a strong mix of emotions. But for me, the best part of the Christmas season is just starting — now that we are a few days past all the build up. Since the presents are sent and  holiday plans already made, we are left with a few quietly beautiful days before the holiday is officially over. I look forward to these days, the simple unexpected moments, and the time to reflect on what I desire for the new year. Noticing the clear, crisp and still winter sky, it’s in these moments that I think of New Year’s resolutions. Before we head back to our hectic 21st-Century schedules, this year I need to remember to set aside more simple quiet moments with Him who will bring my most fulfilling light.

See I Am Making All Things New

by Blus Brother  

For a while, as I’ve crisscrossed the paths of our community, I’ve been quite struck by how completely everything has changed over the years. Gardens, lawns, driveways, homes, retreat houses, maintenance buildings, even trails in the woods — nothing is the same as it was. Everything has undergone some sort of change over the years. Often behind that first thought, is something I heard many years ago: that Christ will eventually make everything in our lives new, if we allow him to.  Everything. That, of course, is good news.  Really fantastic news.

Fishing at Rock Harbor

The Community of Jesus is located at Rock Harbor on Cape Cod Bay. Rock Harbor is a tidal harbor, which means that fishing boats can leave or enter the harbor only within a few hours of high tide. Fishing trips can last for four hours (during high tide) or eight hours (between high tides). While we were leaving on a four-hour trip, another boat was returning from an eight-hour trip. I go fishing only once or twice a year, so I especially appreciated this water view of the Church of the Transfiguration and the Bell Tower with the angel on top. Being on the sea was a refreshing expansion of my day-to-day land-bound existence.

“Heat Wave”

Well, summer hit with a big hot bang yesterday!  We’ve been coasting along in the mid 60’s and 70’s for weeks now…I knew the inevitable was coming. Because of the heat, the sisters’ recreation time together was moved to 7:15pm – a walk on the flats.  It was beautiful…there was a breeze, and enough tidal pools to cool our feet, as well as reflect the sunset.  There were lots of vacationers out enjoying the beauty as well.  A number of them asked who we were. (I wasn’t realizing the impact 60 sisters would be – streaming down the beach – til I turned and looked!) It was a nice feeling to be able to point to the bell tower and angel at the Community of Jesus, and invite them to come and visit.  I hope they do.