03 November 2008

Chant courses at Saint Meinrad Archabbey

This just in from Saint Meinrad Archabbey:

Release Date: 11/3/2008

Chant workshops offered in July 2009

Two seminars on singing Gregorian chant will be offered in July 2009 at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN, by Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB.

The seminar, "Bringing to Life the Word of God in Song," will be offered in a beginner session on July 20-24, and in an advanced session on July 27-31.

Learn how the practice of Gregorian chant brings to life the Word of God in song, and study the intimate relationship between the proclaimed Word of God and its melodic setting.

The workshop includes study of the original chant notations as the key to unlocking the spiritual and artistic qualities that have influenced later Western music. Practice singing both Latin and English settings in chant style will be included.

Fr. Columba is an accomplished chant teacher. He earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology degree from Sant' Anselmo in 1959 and a doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. He has led numerous workshops on chant, throughout the United States, at the Abbey of Solesmes in France and for Benedictine communities in Australia.

A monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, he served as choirmaster for the community, where he began his work of composing English-language chants based on the principles used to create the original Gregorian chant repertory. He is also on the faculty of Saint Meinrad School of Theology. He has published many settings in chant and two books on the subject. For information on the cost or to make a reservation, contact the Office of Group Accommodations, Saint Meinrad School of Theology, 200 Hill Drive, St. Meinrad, IN 47577. Or, call (800) 730-9910 or e-mail dkleaving@saintmeinrad.edu.

30 August 2008

Emptying ourselves to pray in the name of the Church

A reflection on praying the Divine Office by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.

When we come to pray, it's important that we empty ourselves. As Benedictine nuns we have statio*-- that's a very important time for us. It must be a time in which we empty ourselves of ourselves-- of our cares, our jobs, everything we're doing. Our hearts have to be empty because when we pray the Divine Office, we don't pray our own words. We pray the psalms, and we must be empty enough that our hearts can take up the psalms as if they were our own, because we pray as the Church before the throne of God. The psalms carry every person in the world, every emotion, every situation.

Mary prayed the psalms, Christ prayed the psalms! When we pray the psalms, it's the Holy Spirit within us praying. But if we're not empty, how can that happen?

*Statio is the five minutes before Vespers which the nuns use to recollect themselves before entering the Church to pray.

07 August 2008

Fr. Perren Hayes on the Daily Office

I highly recommend everything Fr. Perren Hayes writes on his blog, and this entry is a particular highlight.

04 August 2008

Constants for human guidance

I'm reading Tilden Edwards' Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction:

The records of Jesus' ministry marked the path of spiritual guidance taken throughout the Church's history. Through a great variety of forms, there have been these constants:
  • a sense of serving and sharing with rather than "lording it over" another
  • a sense of confidence in human capacity and calling to be in contact with the Holy, and to mediate it to one another through word, sacrament, and deed
  • an integral relation of moral and spiritual development
  • a vision of bearing, struggling hope in the final reconciliation of all creation in its intimate Source
  • a willingness to work with all sorts and conditions of people, one to one, in groups, in crowds, near and far
  • a valuation of ritual/sacramental means of grace: bread and wine, water, hands, and words of reconciliation.

These "constants" for human guidance, I believe, are as much living waters for us today as two thousand years ago.

[p. 41]

26 July 2008

Praying the Office alone vs. communally...clear distinction?

My spiritual director made a comment this week: "How does it work for you to pray the [BCP 1979] office alone, as it's designed to be communal?" I made a quick comment about wanting to stick with the system I'm involved with when praying the office in church at least once a week, and that I do feel I'm participating in a communal prayer when I'm alone. But what do you think about prayer books for the Divine Office being designed for communal versus individual prayer? I've heard the RC Liturgy of the Hours described as having been (sadly, in the opinion of the one I heard say this) designed for individual priests' prayer, missing a chance to make it easily prayed in communities. Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary seems designed for individual oblates. The lines between communal and individual aren't clear, obviously, and one might even argue there is no such line. My SD was obviously just getting me to talk about this...looking forward to exploring that question next time, since it went by rather quickly this session. Anyway, Cynthia Bourgeault, in her Chanting the Psalms: A Practical Guide with Instructional CD, suggests that if one prays alone (and presumably is free to structure one's praying of the psalter in any way), one follow this pattern:


Short scriptural reading

Psalmody (with or without canticle)


I'm about to go looking through my library for books that will facilitate this most easily. Maybe I can use my Benedictine Weekly Psalter if I figure out a scheme for the scriptural readings, or even add such a scheme to the next edition...hmm.

24 July 2008

I'm trying this out...

I'm trying this out to see if I can Jott this message to my blog. listen Powered by Jott

17 July 2008

Is "Right?" the new "like"?

I don't know whether it's just a virus within our company, but in more and more meetings I attend (by phone), the speakers seem to have developed the habit of saying "Right?" at the end of almost every phrase, sometimes after a phrase that isn't even long enough to convey a complete thought: "What we need to do is...right?...spend more time in meetings...right?"I'm in the middle of listening to one of those speakers, right? I keep responding (with my phone on mute, of course), "I don't know; you're telling me"... "I don't know; you're telling me." Perhaps such speakers have found that "Right?" creates a pattern of almost automatic head-nodding, most people still having the idea that "Right?" is a question and that it's polite to indicate an answer at least by nodding. We're not used to it being punctuation. But they like seeing the sea of nodding heads, so they keep doing it.

29 June 2008

New parish Web site goes live

I'm thrilled to see our new parish Web site go live, and as Webmaster, I'm finding the tweaking thereof to be a fairly addictive activity. I hope to limit this activity to Sunday evenings, and I'll be getting help once I show a few volunteers how to do it. It's gratifying to see Anglicans Online pronounce our site "an attractive, thorough redesign" and to see the site pop up in first place in a Google search of "anglo-catholic" and "Chicago".

12 June 2008

Blog of a kindred spirit

Do visit Oblate Blog. There's an excellent related site, OblateSpring. I look forward to exploring the rich content on these sites.

30 May 2008

On the Visitation of the BVM to Elizabeth

I felt drawn to my copy of the Sanctoral volume of A Word in Season this evening, and now I know why: the first reading given for this holy day speaks directly to my sense of calling and where I am in the context of life right now. It's from The Reed of God by English psychotherapist and writer Caryll Houselander (1901-1954):

Sometimes it may seem to us that there is no purpose in our lives, that going day after day for years to this office or that school or factory is nothing else but waste and weariness. But it may be that God has sent us there because but for us Christ would not be there. If our being there means that Christ is there, that alone makes it worthwhile. ... It is not necessary at this stage of our contemplation to speak to others of the mystery of life growing in us. It is only necessary to give ourselves to that life, all that we are, to pray without ceasing, not by a continual effort to concentrate our minds but by a growing awareness that Christ is being formed in our lives from what we are. We must trust him for this; because it is not a time to see his face, we must possess him secretly and in darkness, as the earth possesses the seed. We must not try to force Christ's growth in us, but with a deep gratitude for the light burning secretly in our darkness, we must fold our concentrated love upon him like earth, surrounding, holding, and nourishing the seed. We must be swift to obey the winged impulses of his love, carrying him to wherever he longs to be: and those who recognize his presence will be stirred, like Elizabeth, with new life. They will know his presence, not by any special beauty or power shown by us, but in the way that the bud knows the presence of the light, by the unfolding in themselves, a putting forth of their own beauty.
[p. 77]

11 April 2008

I'm quoted in The Tablet

The latest issue of the British Roman Catholic weekly magazine The Tablet quotes me reciting the expectations of Benedictine oblates of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

It's part of a good article by James Roberts on the marked increase in oblates even as vocations to professed monastic life have decreased.

Here's my whole response to Mr Roberts' e-mailed interview questions:

How was your calling discerned?

It began as a curiosity I had about oblates after I found out our parish choir director was one yet was not a nun. After living at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana for two weeks taking a Gregorian chant course, I inquired further and found out one didn't even need to be a Roman Catholic to become an oblate. I took my growing fascination and excitement about the idea as a calling to become a Benedictine oblate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

What is your faith tradition?

I am an Anglo-Catholic, belonging to the Episcopal Church (Ascension parish, Chicago). I was Roman Catholic from baptism as an infant until I was received as an Anglican by the Bishop of Michigan in 1986.

How demanding is the commitment?

The commitment is gentle but does ask us to take on Benedictine values and live the Rule of St Benedict as we are able in our life circumstances. One can take it all very seriously indeed and live a very monastic discipline, or one can simply incorporate the basic principles. In particular, the archabbey's oblates are expected to pray daily the Divine Office at least mornings and evenings, read from the Rule of St Benedict daily, practice lectio divina (meditative Bible reading) daily, receive Communion and make our confession regularly, and be attentive to God's presence in daily life. These are under the general promises (not vows) of stability, obedience, and conversion of life.

What are its effects (positive & negative) on family and work life?

I find that being an oblate gives me a structure and support system for living out a Christian life in a particular way, and it connects me to a Christian community of monks that I can feel a part of even though I'm not a professed monk. There's a mutuality of prayer and support between the monks and oblates, and the oblates form local communities in some areas (mainly in Indiana) that meet monthly. WhenI go on a diet, I cannot just plan to eat less and take more exercise; I need more structure than that. It's similar with spiritual life: being an oblate gives me a framework for being Christian.

Are you aware of many members who have gone on to become full members of an order?

No, I really haven't heard of many examples of this among the SaintMeinrad oblate community, although I'm sure it has happened. Most oblates are not on a path toward professed monastic life.

Please provide examples of how the Rule of St. Benedict is put into practice outside the monastery.

In the workplace, the Rule provides excellent advice on leadership in the chapters about "the sort of man the abbot should be." It asks for mutual respect and obedience but also loving flexibility, and it enjoins all to listen to new members and the young, as they may have been sent to the organization to contribute important points of view and skills.

From your perspective, are Oblate vocations growing?

I believe oblate vocations are growing as more people find out about the possibility of being oblates. And more monastic communities are seeing oblate programs as ways to develop networks of support "in theworld," to keep people aware of the possibility of monastic life as a calling, and to share the fruits of their own commitment to that life with those who cannot leave the world and enter a monastery but find much that is spiritually edifying in the lives of monks and nuns in community.

Do monasteries seek out Oblates, or do most people find their way (get in touch out of the blue, or other ways?)

I haven't seen monasteries mounting large campaigns to get more oblates, but most communities with oblate programs make information available through brochures, Web sites, and availability of their oblate directors. I think most people find out about oblates by meeting one, or by making a retreat in a monastery and inquiring about how one might be able to live a more Benedictine life short of entering the monastery as a monk.

What kinds of people pursue this calling? Walks of life, background?

Really all kinds of people, walks of life, and backgrounds. I would say that oblates on average might be a bit more contemplative, or quieter, in temperament, than others, but that may not even be true. I'm sure there are Christians who find nothing useful or attractive about monastic-style spirituality, but there are all types of people among those who do. Some people lead very extroverted, fast-paced lives and find monastic practices an essential balance to that. For others like me, monastic prayer and practice fit right in with our introverted nature.

Various Faith traditions?

There are oblates from every Christian tradition. I know Roman Catholic, Episcopalian/Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian,Congregational, and even Baptist oblates.

How does being an Oblate help one's private spirituality?

It helps motivate private spirituality, such as daily prayer, to know that one is praying along with a community. We receive some materials that help us pray similar prayers to those of the monks. We can pray the same psalms or pray at the same times that they do. Being an oblate provides us with tools to help feel part of a community even as we are alone. Other connections, such as being part of a parish, do that as well, but being an oblate expands that idea of community and gives an ecumenical flavor to it.

How much of the commitment is social?

If one lives near other oblates and there is an oblate chapter nearby, there can be a very large social dimension. This is also true if one can get to the monastery often and meet the monks and other oblates. There are retreats and seminars to help with this. Others of us are rather isolated, and we are connected by receiving a newsletter, exchanging e-mails (I moderate an online forum for Saint Meinrad oblates), and occasionally making retreats.

25 March 2008

Sandwiches on the seashore

I chanted the Abraham-and-Isaac lesson at the Great Vigil. I've done this one several times before, but what struck me, oddly, as I chanted it was the phrase about how Abraham's descendents will be "as the sand which is on the seashore." My profound thought as I continued: "Did I just say 'sandwiches on the seashore'? Who wrote this stuff?" Turned out a couple of the acolytes had heard it that way too, looked at each other, and giggled. All went well. Very sweet baby boy baptized.

17 March 2008

Good Friday through Easter Day

Derek on the RCL and lectionaries in general

We're continuing to use the BCP lectionary at our parish, as far as I can tell. So I won't be printing off the PDF and gluing it into my BCP just yet.

13 March 2008

Thoughts from spiritual direction

Thanks be to God, I've settled into a good place spiritually this winter: not a place to be inhabited forever, but a place to be appreciated for the time being. A lot of the restlessness has gone away, which is a good thing, as it's been a very constricted season of cabin fever and fewer options. Those negatives have been easier to deal with as I've accepted the settledness. Great spiritual-direction session today, and it brought out a good way of thinking about where I am now: There is a gift, there is living the gift, and there is sharing the gift. The gift is a spirituality that has welcomed monastic principles and practices into my lifestyle in the world, and I've found a realistic level at which that can be done; part of the gift is also a balanced appreciation of a spectrum of styles of spiritual practice -- worship, prayer, study, and the rest -- that can't be rigidly classified. I can appreciate both tradition and innovation, the given and the creative, the poetic and the direct. In the past I've felt wearied by the tension between such opposites and the rancor that tension generates among the faithful. Lately that's settled, and I feel more balanced; I'm living the gift. Next there's sharing the gift, and I'll be finding ways to do that. I was thinking of taking a hiatus from spiritual direction because things seem to be going basically well, and I wasn't sure I had much to bring up to talk about. Those are often the times, though, when direction generates more fruit, and that was true today.

12 March 2008

Holy Week at the Ascension

Sacred-music colloquium this June in Chicago

Click here for all the information.

"Seven Days of Musical Heaven"

June 16-22, 2008 (Monday noon through Sunday morning)

Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois

Sponsored by the Church Music Association of America

15 February 2008


I'm about to get more focused and active on this blog, so I've focused the name of the blog and the bookshop. Besides, Glenwood Place is the name of a retirement community somewhere, and I thought I might as well make the name reflect the content. That's a good thing for a lot of reasons.