I Am Risen

By Sr. Fidelis
Amid the glories of Easter, we are compelled to search out the message in this opening Introit of the Resurrection Eucharist.
One of the last anguished cries uttered by Jesus from the cross was: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) And here, at the cusp of the most triumphant holy day in all of Christianity, we hear these words from the Psalmist, in the mouth of Jesus; addressed to his Father, “I rose up and am still with you. You have laid your hand upon me. Your knowledge is become wonderful. Lord, you have proved me and known me: You have known my sitting down, and my rising up.” (Psalm 139) Before the trumpets and streaming banners of this day, we briefly look at the core of Jesus’ complete and utter trust in his Father’s love.
This intimate setting, reflected in the choice of Mode IV, portrays this in such a beautiful way, gently punctuated with Alleluias. It begins low, using one of the oldest intonation patterns of RE to FA. The reciting note of the antiphon is SOL, which again indicates its antiquity. We do not hear the LA until we arrive at the Psalm verse. The whole sense of this sublime chant is a heart-to-heart conversation between a Father and his beloved Son.

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Pennies from Heaven

Pennies

By Faithful Finch

I believe that if you listen to God, He’ll speak to you through little things. One of my good friends told me to always pay attention to pennies. They have “In God We trust” inscribed on them, and are a good reminder to trust in Him!
Ever since then, when I really need to be reminded that I can trust Him, inevitability, a penny will show up. Then there was the time God demonstrated His sense of humor (which I definitely needed right then!), by leading me to a restaurant that had a bathroom floor made of pennies!

Pennies

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EASTER: For He Has Triumphed Gloriously

The Community of Jesus

The re-telling of the salvation story is essential in keeping our faith alive. Paul’s epistle reminds us that we are called to be witnesses of these great events and to pass them on.

I find echoes of the Exodus story in Mary Magdalene’s frantic response to discovering that the body of Jesus is no longer in the tomb. She runs off to alert the disciples. During times of uncertainty, we often want to get busy, doing something, rather than nothing. It is only when Mary returns to the tomb, standing still and weeping helplessly, that she encounters Jesus.  At first, she is preoccupied with grief, and she does not recognize him. Only when He speaks to her does she realize it is the teacher himself, somehow risen from the dead. Mary returns to the disciples to announce that she has seen the Lord, thus earning the title bestowed on her by the ancient church, “apostle to the apostles”.

Mary’s telling of the good news is a task she has passed on to us. How do we recognize  that we have seen the Lord, and how do we reveal this glorious truth to others? How do we dare speak of salvation and hope in a world so full of injustice, hatred, violence, and deadly accident?

This is the challenge and the mystery of Easter. For me it helps to remember that the victory song of Miriam is one of the most ancient in our scriptures. For many thousands of years the faithful have been able to stand tall and sing; “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.”

By Kathleen Norris

Excerpted from God For Us, Paraclete Press

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EASTER: For He Has Triumphed Gloriously

The Community of Jesus

The re-telling of the salvation story is essential in keeping our faith alive. Paul’s epistle reminds us that we are called to be witnesses of these great events and to pass them on.

I find echoes of the Exodus story in Mary Magdalene’s frantic response to discovering that the body of Jesus is no longer in the tomb. She runs off to alert the disciples. During times of uncertainty, we often want to get busy, doing something, rather than nothing. It is only when Mary returns to the tomb, standing still and weeping helplessly, that she encounters Jesus.  At first, she is preoccupied with grief, and she does not recognize him. Only when He speaks to her does she realize it is the teacher himself, somehow risen from the dead. Mary returns to the disciples to announce that she has seen the Lord, thus earning the title bestowed on her by the ancient church, “apostle to the apostles”.

Mary’s telling of the good news is a task she has passed on to us. How do we recognize  that we have seen the Lord, and how do we reveal this glorious truth to others? How do we dare speak of salvation and hope in a world so full of injustice, hatred, violence, and deadly accident?

This is the challenge and the mystery of Easter. For me it helps to remember that the victory song of Miriam is one of the most ancient in our scriptures. For many thousands of years the faithful have been able to stand tall and sing; “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.”

By Kathleen Norris

Excerpted from God For Us, Paraclete Press

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EASTER: For He Has Triumphed Gloriously

The Community of Jesus

The re-telling of the salvation story is essential in keeping our faith alive. Paul’s epistle reminds us that we are called to be witnesses of these great events and to pass them on.

I find echoes of the Exodus story in Mary Magdalene’s frantic response to discovering that the body of Jesus is no longer in the tomb. She runs off to alert the disciples. During times of uncertainty, we often want to get busy, doing something, rather than nothing. It is only when Mary returns to the tomb, standing still and weeping helplessly, that she encounters Jesus.  At first, she is preoccupied with grief, and she does not recognize him. Only when He speaks to her does she realize it is the teacher himself, somehow risen from the dead. Mary returns to the disciples to announce that she has seen the Lord, thus earning the title bestowed on her by the ancient church, “apostle to the apostles”.

Mary’s telling of the good news is a task she has passed on to us. How do we recognize  that we have seen the Lord, and how do we reveal this glorious truth to others? How do we dare speak of salvation and hope in a world so full of injustice, hatred, violence, and deadly accident?

This is the challenge and the mystery of Easter. For me it helps to remember that the victory song of Miriam is one of the most ancient in our scriptures. For many thousands of years the faithful have been able to stand tall and sing; “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.”

By Kathleen Norris

Excerpted from God For Us, Paraclete Press

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Good Friday

By Il Fratello

Today is good
Friday
And the hands of the church
Hold me
As I walk over these stones
We cannot do much
But make our way
Like the blind
Feeling texts written in raised letters

In fits and starts
I align myself with Christ
heroically
And tragically
Failing
To comprehend it all
I am most successful in slumber
Under the cloaks of the apostles

All of you in pain,
All of you suffering,
All of us,
Stop in our tracks
At the mystery
Of his willingness

The mystery of his blood rimmed eyes
That find me, you, each
Hidden in the crowd–
The only one who knows what I have done
And what of his inflicted pain was mine alone–
To say spirit to spirit
I forgive you
All.

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Maundy Thursday: A Shared Meal

Passover fresco spandrel by Silvestro Pistolesi

Maundy Thursday engages us in deep remembrance. Looking at Moses and Aaron as they prepare the first Passover meal in Egypt, we better understand what acts of remembrance can mean for a people, and a religion. The Passover seder is still at the heart of Jewish faith and tradition. And in that Passover supper in Jerusalem depicted in Luke we witness the birth of our own Eucharistic meal.
But I want us to pay attention to what happened not in Egypt or Jerusalem, but in the desert of Exodus, depicted in Psalm 78. God had worked many wonders for the people fleeing from slavery in Egypt: parting the Red Sea, leading by fire and by cloud, drawing water from hard rock to quench their thirst. Still, as time goes by and the hardships continue, their faith in God’s providence fails. In their hunger they doubt, and ask, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” In response, God sends them manna, bread from heaven.
We have been given so many great gifts in our lives, and in the lived tradition of our faith communities. The opportunity to gather in worship with others at the eucharistic table is a blessing beyond compare. But we often take it for granted, and when we face a desert journey – through illness, divorce, job loss, or any unwelcome change – we are still capable of asking if God can provide enough nourishment to see us through.
Even worse, we may be so distracted, enslaved by a desire for worldly goods, that we, like Jesus’s disciples, fail to comprehend the gifts are right before us. Any meal shared with those we love, whether it be at the altar or around a kitchen table, can be a foretaste of the heavenly feast to come, if only we will heed the words of the traditional Maundy Thursday hymn, “Ubi Caritas”, which asks us to set aside our bitterness and quarreling and remember that “where charity and love are found, there is God.”

By Kathleen Norris
excerpted from God For Us, Paraclete Press

Passover fresco spandrel by Silvestro Pistolesi

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The Passion Narrative

By Sr. Fidelis
One of the highlights of Holy Week, is the hearing and experiencing of the Passion Narrative. Whether done in English or Latin, this “drama” brings the story of Christ’s Passion and death to life in the most unique way.
The history of the dramatic reading of Christ’s Passion goes back to at least the 4th century. This is described in detail by the Spanish nun Egeria, who documented her travels to the Holy Land.
By the 5th century, Pope Leo the Great specified that the Gospel of Matthew should be used on Palm Sunday while that of John was always reserved for Good Friday. In ensuing years, the other Gospels were added throughout the week, but the Gospel of John remained as the one for Good Friday. As early as the 8th century, the Passion narratives began to be intoned rather than spoken. There was a narrator, called the Chronista. He usually recited on a fixed pitch. The part of Jesus was always done by a deep voice, known as the Christus. All the other “characters” are done by a high voice, and they were referred to as the Synagoga, or Jewish leaders. Of course these roles included Pilate, Peter, and other characters as well. By the 12th century, there were specific tunes assigned to each of the three voices; most often chanted by priests and deacons.
One of the most poignant moments in the Good Friday Narrative occurs at the death of Jesus, when the narrator ends the section by chanting John 19:36, “They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.” He then changes tunes to what is known as the Planctus or “Weeping Tone,” as he describes Joseph of Arimathea, along with Nicodemus, taking the body of Jesus and preparing it for burial in the custom of the Jews, with costly spices and linen cloths. All the sorrow and tenderness with which they must have carried out their deed of love is summed up in this tone.
We cannot help but be moved in our hearts as we listen to this great and terrible story….the story of our salvation, won at such a cost out of Jesus’ unfathomable love for us. Click here to hear the Passion Narrative according to Saint John.
art-mosaic-lamb-of-god

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Change ringing

bell-towerPlain Bob, Plain Hunt, 3-4 down, 3-4 up…minimus, minor major…circle of work, top of the stroke, and sallies, clappers, and stays. The words circled around me, like flying elephants with very small wings, heavy, dense and ready to come crashing down at any moment. Wow – this was not quite as I imagined.

I had watched our band of bell ringers since our tower was dedicated in 2009. Their perseverance and dedication was obvious. Over time the rhythm of their rings had steadily improved, and the patterns they rang became more complex. I had always been intrigued by the quiet focus of the band during their post – service ringing. It was a team sport of the most intricate and subtle kind. Faces focused, no one uttering a word, eyes all looking to the center of their circle. How one word by the leader, “bob”, could make them all change the timing of their bells and create another pattern. It was a bit like a secret world of sound, ringing the rest of us into and out of our beloved church for worship, elections, passings, all the most important moments of our life together.

Receiving a letter of invitation from our tower captain last March, I jumped at the chance to be a part of this. Despite the obvious complexity, it seemed doable. I was well trained in rhythms from years of playing an instrument. It couldn’t be that hard – pull on the rope, let the bell swing a bit, pull again…

Wow – how wrong I was! I found out it was not “bell ringing”, but “change ringing”, and letting a 500lb bell swing with only a 15ft rope to control it through a complex pattern of “changes” was an art that will take a lifetime to master. I have so much to learn and many teachers here to help me, and I am finding there is no shame in this experience. As one who has never taken easily to the spiritual principal of “being wrong” and of humility, it has actually been a joy (mostly) to fail miserably amongst my brothers and sisters, in pursuit of this art that is so glorious to God and man when done well. It occurred to me this is a life lesson of the best kind. To fail and get up again, without condemnation, trusting in God’s love through others around us. There is a wonderful freedom in that – and well worth a little “bruised” pride to obtain.

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Motion Devotion

By Sr. Nun Other

During this morning’s exercise class, I considered the phrase full range of motion, pretty certain I didn’t have it. It’s medical definition is “the full movement potential of a joint, usually its range of flexion and extension.” I discovered that flexibility is the key – and most neglected – component for general good health, injury prevention, and outstanding sports performance. In my case, that would be ping pong.  As I stared at the ceiling, rotating my left ankle, I had this thought:what about full range of emotion? Isn’t that equally important? Emotions are a persistent companion, closer than the air we breathe. They help define and provide commentary on life around us. And we need them flexible and healthy as well.

I’m convinced God isn’t anti-emotion. In fact, I printed seven pages listing 190 emotions mentioned in the Bible. Here are some of them:  affection, anger, arrogance, bitterness, compassion, confusion, cruelty, defiance, delight, disappointment, eagerness, embarrassment, enthusiasm, exaltation, greed, impatience, kindness, laughter, loneliness, and optimism.  Though sometimes fickle, misinformed, and prone to jump to conclusions, emotions are the color and substance of who we are. They join the clay of body, mind, and spirit in God’s patient hands.

Snowdrops

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