Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By: Sr. Fidelis

Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration is an important one at the Community of Jesus. Tt is our “Namesake” feast at the Church of the Transfiguration.  The actual feast day is August 6th, but it is usually celebrated on the closest Sunday to that date.

The feast was originally celebrated in the East as early as the 4th and 5th centuries, but was not commonly celebrated in the West until the 10th century.  In 1456 Pope Callixtus III extended the feast to the Universal Church.

We see this interesting history reflected in the chants for this special feast.  Appropriate texts were “borrowed” from other parts of the liturgy, or newly composed, which was the case with the Alleluia, “Candor est lucis”.  Using an original tune which dates back to the 9th century, a new text was added to the original notes, with some slight variations to accommodate the text. Listen to this lovely chant, while reading these words from the Book of Wisdom, 7, 26.

He is the brightness of eternal light, the flawless image (or mirror without stain) of God and the best image of the same.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Source of Life

By Sr. Nun Other

While weeding our vegetable garden at the Community of Jesus, I was amazed — well, maybe dismayed — at the tenacious strength of those wily weeds. Clearing a path was hard work, but it got me thinking about “roots” and multiple ways we use the word.

As a noun, roots attach a plant to the ground and convey water and nourishment. They’re a source of life, established deeply and firmly. A second definition for root is “a semantic unit,” the part of a word after all prefixes and suffixes are removed. It’s also a verb: to root for a team or an individual is to lend support and encourage enthusiastically.

Perhaps it’s a Pennsylvania phenomenon — or a well-taught civics class — but when I meet someone from my home state, I connect. “You’re from Pennsylvania? Which part? Pittsburgh? No kidding.” And then we’re apt to converse in a language resembling English, but native to Western Pennsylvanians, words such as chipped chopped ham, city chicken and “redd up” a room. These are my roots by birth and they bring life through remembrance, forming part of who I am. We also put down spiritual roots, and there are several Biblical verses that employ the metaphor. In Ephesians 3:17, the Apostle Paul speaks of being rooted and grounded in Christ, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” Just imagine! Jesus is that love, our source of life, and stands with us when all pretenses are removed.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Reading for Lauds at the Community of Jesus this morning was from an Epistle of Clement I. The last paragraph read, “Even the Creator and Lord of the universe rejoices in his works.  By his supreme power he set the heavens in their place; by his infinite wisdom he gave them their order.  He separated the land from the waters surrounding it and made his own will its firm foundation.  By his command he brought to life the beasts that roam the earth.  He created the sea and all its living creatures, and then by his power set bounds to it.  Finally, he formed humanity, the highest and most intelligent of his creatures, the copy of his own image.  We must recognize, therefore, that all who are upright have been graced by good works, and that even the Lord himself took delight in the glory his works gave them.”

This seemed like a summary of the beautiful Vespers hymns we’ve been looking at these past weeks with themes of the various days of creation!  The Friday hymn is the last in the set, with text mostly likely attributed to Saint Gregory the Great. Here is as description of true Paradise on earth.

O God, shaper of man, you who, alone, ordaining all things, order the earth to produce species of creeping and wild beasts;

You, who gave the great bodies of creatures, made alive by a word of command that they might serve in their place subduing them to mankind:

Drive away from your servants, whatsoever, by uncleanness, either suggests itself by customs, or insinuates itself by actions.

Give the rewards of joys, grant the gifts of graces; dissolve the chains of quarrelling, bind fast the agreements of peace.

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.  Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

Soldiers of the Cross

By Sr. Nun Other

Jacob had a dream, and in his dream he saw a ladder anchored in the bonds of earth and stretching into the arms of heaven. There was uninhibited access to the ladder, and angels moved freely in both directions, their invitation to join implicit. But what happens when we spiritually clutch the ladder on both sides, and attempt to climb up the ladder backwards? I ask this question, because it’s how I often live. My focus is on counting cost and failure and the debris I’ve left behind. Why not do as the well-known song suggests and love Jesus, serve Him as best we know, climbing ever  higher, higher as soldiers of the cross.

The Community of Jesus

Soldiers of the Cross

By Sr. Nun Other

Jacob had a dream, and in his dream he saw a ladder anchored in the bonds of earth and stretching into the arms of heaven. There was uninhibited access to the ladder, and angels moved freely in both directions, their invitation to join implicit. But what happens when we spiritually clutch the ladder on both sides, and attempt to climb up the ladder backwards? I ask this question, because it’s how I often live. My focus is on counting cost and failure and the debris I’ve left behind. Why not do as the well-known song suggests and love Jesus, serve Him as best we know, climbing ever  higher, higher as soldiers of the cross.

The Community of Jesus

Come What May

By Sr. Nun Other

If I were to have a conversation with the Apostle Paul, I’d like to pose this question, “How did you learn to be content in all circumstances?” My admiration comes, of course, from reading Philippians 4:12, in which Paul proclaims, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  I suspect it wasn’t a “firefly” of faith landing on Paul’s shoulder that produced such serene confidence.  A quick overview of his life proves that not to be the case. His personal journey was punctuated by suffering, both of his own making, and forced on him by others. He was a persecutor of the church and present at the stoning of Stephen, struck blind and converted on the road to Damascus, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and eventually martyred. Since I can’t ask my question directly, let’s speculate. Perhaps this passage is about joy, abiding joy, deeply rooted in reality and knowledge of the love of God.

The Community of Jesus

Fiery Disk

By Sr. Fidelis

We’ve had two beautiful days at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod….not a cloud in the sky, and the sun a true disk, arching through its course.

St. Gregory’s hymn for Wednesday Vespers speaks eloquently of the 4th day of Creation and describes such a day. In our digital world, it is a good reminder that God’s creation is what determines time and the length of days. The natural world and the spiritual world are so closely linked.

Most holy God of heaven, you who paint the shining center of the sky with the brightness of fire, enriching it with beautiful light,

You, who establishing on the fourth day the fiery disk of the sun, set up the orbit of the moon, and the wandering courses of the stars,

So that, to the nights or to the days you could give a line of separation, and to the beginnings of months, a most familiar sign:

Illumine the hearts of men; banish the sordid things of their soul; release the chain of guilt; make void the mass of their crimes.

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. Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

Alike In Our Differences

By Sr. Nun Other

I’m sometimes tempted by the concept of “alone.” It’s very appealing (and elusive) to one who’s called to live with sixty sisters! While being alone has benefits, when demanded, it seldom produces the hoped-for result. (That is, continued peace and tranquility.) Jesus called twelve men to participate in His earthly journey, not for His sake, but for theirs. They were of varying temperaments: Andrew, who introduced his brother to Jesus, was optimistic and content in second place, while Peter became the gregarious spokesman for the Twelve; Bartholomew was a scholar, James the Elder, a man of courage and forgiveness, and the fiery tempered John, beloved for his devotion. Like all friends, they arrived with individual attributes and deficits. They needed each other – we need each other — both as support beams and sandpaper.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Fruits of the earth

Tuesday’s Vespers hymn at the Community of Jesus reminds us of the third day of Creation, where God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:9, 11).

Clothed in poetic imagery, this hymn reminds us that all the beauty that surrounds us came from the hand of God, and was always His intent to bless us. The texts to these hymns can easily be used as prayers of gratitude and repentance!

O great creator of the earth, you who delivering the land from the troublesome beating of the water, have given the immovable earth,

That, bringing forth suitable bud, beautiful things in golden-colored flowers, it might present rich things as fruit, and render pleasant food.

Cleanse the wounds of a scorched soul with the freshness of grace, that it may wash away its deeds with tears, and destroy wrong impulses.

Let it comply with your commands; may it approach no evil; let it rejoice to be filled with good things, and never know the work of death.

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. Amen.
The Community of Jesus

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