Di-vine Connection

By Sr. Nun Other
Last week, I wrote about grapes maturing on the vine. A reader reminded me there are further steps to this process, depending on each grape’s destiny. One definition for vineyard is “sphere of activity.” Let’s say you’ll one day become grape juice. It involves a crushing process, and the essence of who you were, yields to who you’ve become. This can happen in the hands of a watchful vine keeper or, more painfully, solely through circumstance and personal choices. Jesus is our guardian, our friend that tends to each particular vine. He isn’t surprised when we wander, or daunted by our indifference.

His Love continues until our personal transfiguration is complete.

Grapes

 

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Impressions

Last week, I started a week-long conversation with the Lord. It began with me in my frustration, asking God how long it would take me to change. ( well, honestly, it really began with me asking the Lord how long it was going to take the person with whom I’d just had an argument to change!)

As I settled down and began to listen more, He began to teach me.

He told me I couldn’t change myself. He told me I couldn’t become like Him just by copying Him. That wasn’t  enough.

I waited for Him to tell me more, but that is all I heard for that day.

The next day, I was talking to the Lord about some stress in my life and why He was allowing it. What good was there in it? As I listened, I heard Him say, “as you are pressured and press yourself against Me, my image is imprinted on you. All you have to do is throw yourself on Me.

As I went into our church a few days later, I looked at the bronze Adam & Eve on the doors. I realized the art form to make the doors, the Lost Wax process, is similar to what happens to us in Transfiguration – as we allow the pressure in our lives to push us towards Jesus, He impresses His image into us.Eve - from the main doors

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Gregorian Chant: The MI Modes

Mode 3 is one of the most enigmatic of all modes!  It’s range is full, and it encompasses BOTH half step relationships at either end of the spectrum.  It recites on TI – an unstable pitch, which is constantly “pulling” to resolve up to DO.  The home tone, MI is a half step away from FA, so its endings always have a mysterious somber sense to them.

 

Non invenientes Jesum, is a beautiful example of this complex mode.  Taken from the Feast of St. Joseph, the text reads:  “Not finding Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him:  and after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:45-46.)

First to note is the opening phrase, which starts with the home tone and the MI-FA relationship, not once, but twice; then ascends right up to the TI-DO  on the word “Jesum”.  This small phrase encapsulates the essence of Mode 3!  Listen for these key relationships throughout this whole antiphon, and sing along.

non invenientes

Non Invenientes

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Never Out of Sight

By Hummingbird

While traveling with my four-pawed brown-eyed friend I learned an important lesson about my relationship with Jesus. His favorite place to be was curled up on my lap like a cat, if I was seated. If was standing, he desperately wanted to be carried but would stand close by my feet with his eye pinned on me.If we separated, he would come, nose to the ground and eyes searching all the feet, to find my feet. If tending to his “own business” outdoors were to take him any distance from me, the corners of white-rimmed eyes would always be curled around to see where I was, no matter what!

He suffered thousands of feet, strange places, uncomfortable beds, food at any hour, being stuffed in a bag at my feet on a plane; not understanding and yet following any place, any time, into any circumstance.

He convinced me that I was his master and the only master in the world he wanted. His constant work and joy was to be with me, wherever I sent him, his face told me I would be in the center  of his thoughts ‘til he was by my side or in my lap again. He moved and strangely warmed my heart, and I longed to tend to his needs and have him always by my side. His love blessed me. My greeting became always a caress and a special personal word.

Suddenly, I understood—Oh, Jesus. It is so easy to have You with me if only I would take You to my heart as I am in his.

Yorkshire-Terrier

 

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Wonderfully Made

By Sr. Nun Other
While walking near our church, I was impressed by the beauty of grapes on a nearby vine. I stopped and adjusted my glasses for an up-close inspection. In perfect bunches, light green, unripened grapes, sidled up to others already in process of color transformation. Though currently in different stages of development, they coexisted in flawless symmetry.
Grapes ripening
The experience reminded me of the scripture concerning the Body of Christ, found in 1 Corinthians 12.  Briefly summarized,  Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many: a foot, a hand, an ear, an eye. God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as He chose. And with a variety of gifts – wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy – but it is the same God who activates all of them.To each is given…for the common good.

We sometimes suggest that a person “just be one of the bunch.” I conclude, there’s no such thing. It’s more accurate to say be part of a bunch, add your strengths (and need), journey together in spite of differences, encourage through mercy, and uphold one another with forgiveness.

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Gregorian Chant: The Other Half

I am the resurrection and the life;  he who believes in me, even if he dies, shall live; and all who live and believe in me, shall never die. (John 11: 25-26).

 

In this Mode 2 antiphon, we hear Jesus’ words of blessed assurance to all who believe.  Last week we witnessed the funeral for one of our Community members, and this text was both chanted and read during the day.

Ego_Sum_arrowsThe most characteristic detail of a Mode 2 piece is the clef at the beginning of the piece.  Shaped like an old fashioned telephone receiver, it is the FA clef, and is used almost exclusively for this Mode.  The reason?   Mode 2 pieces have a very narrow range; the reciting note is FA and the home tone, RE. On a normal staff with DO on the top line, these pieces would show up at the bottom of the staff,and lower notes could even be below the staff.  The FA clef, located in the middle of the staff assures us that the majority of the piece will sit comfortably on the staff .  Notice that there are a few notes above and below the key pitches of FA and RE, but for the most part, the piece circles around those principal pitches.

Listen for this, as you look at the piece.

Ego Sum Resurrectio

Gregorian Chant: The Other Half

I am the resurrection and the life;  he who believes in me, even if he dies, shall live; and all who live and believe in me, shall never die. (John 11: 25-26).

 

In this Mode 2 antiphon, we hear Jesus’ words of blessed assurance to all who believe.  Last week we witnessed the funeral for one of our Community members, and this text was both chanted and read during the day.

Ego_Sum_arrowsThe most characteristic detail of a Mode 2 piece is the clef at the beginning of the piece.  Shaped like an old fashioned telephone receiver, it is the FA clef, and is used almost exclusively for this Mode.  The reason?   Mode 2 pieces have a very narrow range; the reciting note is FA and the home tone, RE. On a normal staff with DO on the top line, these pieces would show up at the bottom of the staff,and lower notes could even be below the staff.  The FA clef, located in the middle of the staff assures us that the majority of the piece will sit comfortably on the staff .  Notice that there are a few notes above and below the key pitches of FA and RE, but for the most part, the piece circles around those principal pitches.

Listen for this, as you look at the piece.

Ego Sum Resurrectio

Arms that welcome

By Sister Nun Other

I have a friend who considers the Bible the world’s greatest encyclopedia. She reads it in search of answers and is never disappointed! Recently, she told me of a verse, for her and me at least, newly discovered. That verse was Isaiah 50:10, which reads: 

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord. This morning I woke up anxious, not quite sure of my way. Then words from an eighteenth century hymn writer, Joseph Hart, cut a path through my musings.  He wrote, “Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore; Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love and power. The hymn goes on to call the thirsty, weary, and heavy laden, and ends, “All the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of Him. Essentially, it’s a parallel message to the one from Isaiah, both coming within a single week! For those of us who sometimes wander (and wonder), it’s a recommendation well-worth considering.

Outside Looking In

By Faithful Friar

Sometimes it’s funny to be on the outside looking in. For several years now – ever since overlapping events left no one else to ask – I have been privileged to participate in a succession of Elements Theatre Company productions, either at home in Paraclete House at the Community of Jesus or on the road to points between Boston, New York and Philadelphia. But here I was last week filing in to the audience for a summer theater performance of 3 dramatic monologues written by Alan Bennett for his “Talking Heads” BBC series some years ago. Totally unfamiliar with this material and contributing virtually nothing toward the set, stage, technicals or properties as I usually do (not to mention costumes, makeup, publicity, catering, directing or acting!), here I was on the outside looking in.

Talking Heads x 3

And what a spectacle it was! The best analogy I can make is that of the pleasure and enjoyment one might experience of a fine Tuscan dinner. In fact “delicious” is the adjective that came first about the experience in that theater. The stage was set with comfortable house lighting and welcoming string-based background music. The stage itself was open, fairly vertical, composed of 3 or 4 playing areas sectioned off with bright spare metal work. The opening monologue – prima piatti – was a hot risotto, rich and flavorful, accompanied by a light white wine: the character of a clever but somewhat bewildered elderly son who reveals more than even he can understand about both himself and his mother in the recounting of recent events. Delivered with nuanced expression in proper British RP (received pronunciation), one could savor the complex signals of a close (closed?) family relationship as it becomes tested.

The secunda piatti was a more complex, brooding and spare piece, yet complete and totally satisfying in its parts. It could have been a serving of wild boar or sausage prepared following ancient methods, with a mouth-watering polenta and 2 or 3 local vegetables fresh-cooked and savory, all imbued with a fiery mystery by a fine Chianti red. This one told by a younger woman from within the confines of social strictures and crisis of faith subsumed in the ancient wrestle of marital relations and self-remedies of ironic humor, alcohol and sex. Heady fare, affairs of the heart.

So on to the final piatti, the Dolce. A word that comes out it English as “sweet” – appropriate enough in its confectionary capacity. But the sheer effervescence of Italian desserts and of this closing monologue transform each from saccharine to sanguine and give each an inner glow quite beyond their subject matter. The ices, gelati, sweet lemons and creams could all stack up against this well-meaning but impulsive letter-writing maven who makes enough public nuisance that she lands herself in jail. Then without changing a beat (other than a lightning-quick costume change) she transforms herself into a loving, affectionate friend to all her new sisters in the cell- block. The whole thing is so joyfully and limpidly creative. And it wraps up a production whose lighting, sound, movement and text – both spoken and subliminally expressed – are “just so”. Dolce!

So please join me in a toast of sparkling prosecco to this wonderful theatrical feast. May there be many more to follow (with or without my help)!

IMG_9482

Taking down from a great run!

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Much to learn!

Antiphons are wonderful “miniatures” that we can study to glean knowledge about Gregorian Chant.  Below you’ll see a short antiphon, Vos reliquistis, which translated means: You who have left all things and followed me, shall receive a hundredfold, and life everlasting you will possess. (Matthew 19:28-29) This is Jesus’ word to his disciples in regards to them answering the call to follow him.  The Latin word, reliquistis, immediately brings to mind the English cognate “relinquish” – to hand over to another person.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This antiphon is used at Lauds, setting the right “tone or mode” for the chanting of the Benedictus for that particular day.  You’ll see that it’s in Mode 1.  At first glance, the antiphon looks low, and indeed it is.  One listen to the audio file will confirm that!

Mode 1 has a reciting note of LA and a home tone of RE.  We call this a RE Mode. ( Mode 2 is also a RE Mode, and we’ll be looking at that next week.) RE is located on the bottom line of the staff, and the antiphon begins and ends on this principal pitch.  With this particular antiphon, it barely makes it up to the reciting note LA.  We can hear the rise of the phrase to the words estis me, and the climactic point on the first two notes of centuplum (a hundredfold!).  Then the melody gradually subsides to its final resting place on possidebitis (will possess).  A simple sentence, a simple range of 5 or 6 notes; yet it conveys the conversation of this text!   Other Mode 1 antiphons have a broader range, and often ascend past the reciting note of LA.  But this particular one resides in the lower part of the modal range.

One more thing to note and that is the ending within the double bars.  This is the ending for the recitation of the psalmody that would normally accompany this antiphon.

The vowels E u o u a e, are a shorthand for the last verse chanted at the end of the psalm, the Gloria Patri.  These vowels are the last 6 in the Latin words, saeculorum, Amen.

Notice that this ending “hovers” around the Reciting tone LA!