This week, we turn our faces toward Holy Week and the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find a depth of riches in the Gregorian chants that come from this sacred season. One of the treasures of the Church is the majestic hymn Pange Lingua, whose text is attributed to Thomas Aquinas. This chant is sung to accompany the translation of the Sacraments to a place of repose at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist. The Mode 3 melody gently sweeps up and back in a way that lifts the text and gives a sense of adoration. Read this wonderful translation by J.M. Neale and others, which is found in many hymnals.
Of the glorious body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the blood, all price excelling,
Which the world’s eternal King,
In a spotless womb once dwelling,
Shed for this world’s ransoming.
Given for us, for us descending,
Of a virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.
At the last great supper lying
Circled by his chosen band,
Duly with the law complying,
First he finished its command,
Then immortal food supplying,
Gave himself by his own hand.
Word-made-flesh by word he maketh
Bread his very flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ’s blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.
Therefore we, before him bending,
This great sacrament revere:
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.
Glory let us give and blessing
To the Father and the Son,
Honor, might and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one. Amen
Pange Lingua (Hymn Mode 3 C), Aquinas
By Sr. Fidelis
During this 4th week of Lent, we look at another one of Jesus’ teachings, taken from the Gospel of John. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him, says the Lord.” Scripture tells us that this was a hard saying, indeed. The Jews murmured against Jesus and disputed amongst themselves. But through the lens of Lent and approaching Holy Week, we see Jesus’ loving preparing them, even if they did not understand, for what he was about to do in the Sacrament of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.
This Communion piece gives us a greater understanding of Jesus’ words. Set in Mode 6, the opening intonation rises quickly, giving a sense of energy and joy, which then peaks on the words sanguinem meam (my blood). Here is a loving invitation to dwell in him. Then, the most important words of all, et ego in eo (and I in him), give a sense of humility and intimacy in their low range. The piece ends with a lovely descending passage to its’ final cadence. Listen to Qui manducat.
Qui Manducat (Communion Mode 6B)
As a new bell ringer at the Community of Jesus Bell Tower, I had the privilege of going on a “bell-ringing field trip” to Boston this past year. We were invited to ring bells at the Church of the Advent and Old North Church, to gain some experience in different settings, and to learn from more experienced ringers. Wow, what a privilege! To actually get to climb the tower of the oldest church in Boston where Paul Revere signaled the historical event and to ring their bells!
It was an absolutely beautiful fall day in Boston, the kind you think of when taking a foliage trip north. As we were walking from one bell tower to the next (which is what the bell ringers do on any given Sunday in Boston) I was asked by one of the Bostonians, “Why did you start ringing bells? And what was your interest?” I paused because I hadn’t been asked that before so I had to think about it.
During the short time I had been ringing bells, my impression was that ringers in general like a challenge, get a thrill out of solving math equations and the like. I knew that was not me, so what was my reason and love of it? I responded, “I wanted to be part of the worship at the Church of the Transfiguration and I thought what a privilege it would be to proclaim either before or after a service with the ringing of bells.”
That sounded like a special way to serve, but little did I know what was involved in becoming a proficient change-ringer. I’ve begun to learn again how God takes my tiny seed of obedience, and blesses me mightily. I have grown to love participating in the bell ringing because it’s not only an integral part of the worship but it’s a “team” sport where we all work together to create something beautiful for visitors to enjoy. I couldn’t have explained exactly why I wanted to ring the bells, but in doing it God has opened the door for some very unexpected blessings. Through ringing the bells, God has truly brought joy to my life.
By Faithful Finch
A couple of weeks ago, I got stopped for speeding. I was so caught up in my thoughts of what I needed to accomplish and the happenings that had just occurred, that when I saw the lights on the police car, I thought he was going after someone else!
The humorous thing about it, is that the Lord had just been speaking to me about living in the present. I had been reading the scripture where Jesus was teaching in the house, and it was so crowded, no one else could get in the door. A paralyzed man had friends who cared about him so much that they decided to find another way to get him to Jesus. They dug a hole in the roof and lowered him down.
Jesus stopped everything he was doing, and made time for the man in need. That was the present need, and Jesus wasn’t concerned about anything else.
I miss the present because I’m either caught up in the past or worried about the future.
I didn’t get a ticket from the police that day, or even a warning, but I did receive a lesson.
By Sr. Nun Other
Someone wants to trade a handful of change for a dollar bill. You say yes and he hands you 100 pennies. Or 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels. Doesn’t really matter. Although the value is equal, it’s not the same and never will be. Maybe you loved that dollar bill. It was the first you ever made or a gift from your grandmother. You know it’s too late but you want it back. Now.
How do we reconcile the feelings that come with change? Especially when it’s an uninvited addition to our journey. I humbly offer some still-working-on thoughts: Step 1, admit you’ve lost something comfortable and familiar; Step 2, face that the present is now the past; Step 3, don’t pretend to like it; Step 4, accept its necessity and inevitability; Step 5, acknowledge God loves you and pray for an infusion of hope. Whatever your change is, it needs time to unfold and define itself. Be patient, be kind to yourself and others, and grateful to God for forward motion.