Nuns instead of Lady Gaga

Couple of years ago the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz made an album “Chant: Music For Paradise” which sold more than one million copies, after climbing to the top of European charts with their Gragorian chants.

Today’s story is similar, but about the Benedictine nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation, from France ear Avignon. They have signed a deal with Decca Records, part of Universal Music, which counts Lady Gaga and U2 among its acts.

Their album “Voice: Chant from Avignon”, is scheduled for release in November 2010

Advertisements

st. teresa of avila

stoa-m

I was looking for a good and realistic movie portraying the life of St. Teresa of Avila and found this one(through the World Cat library thingy), which looked promising because it was made in her homeland and depicted faithfully the times and places of her life. 450 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.

Teresa is played very realistically, as described by her contemporary, as a woman with a strong personality, who through suffering and love for God, the truth and the church, was prepared for her mission in leading others to the knowledge of God as a Bridegroom and founding communities of people living a simple life, pursuing God’s ways in working and praying.

teresa-avila

quaerere Deum – seeking God

artykul w tym temacie w jez. polskim

Very interesting speech of pope Benedict XVI during his visit to France last week. He was addressing the ‘World of culture”, trying to show the path for the Western civilization to emerge again as a society having answers to the essential and central questions of the purposes for humanity. The whole text is here, and below some excerpts:

Their goal was: quaerere Deum. Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential – to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. It is sometimes said that they were “eschatologically” oriented. But this is not to be understood in a temporal sense, as if they were looking ahead to the end of the world or to their own death, but in an existential sense: they were seeking the definitive behind the provisional.

For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required.

“The monks had to find melodies which translate into music the acceptance by redeemed man of the mysteries that he celebrates. The few surviving capitula from Cluny thus show the Christological symbols of the individual modes”

For Benedict, the words of the Psalm: coram angelis psallam Tibi, Domine – in the presence of the angels, I will sing your praise (cf. 138:1) – are the decisive rule governing the prayer and chant of the monks. What this expresses is the awareness that in communal prayer one is singing in the presence of the entire heavenly court, and is thereby measured according to the very highest standards: that one is praying and singing in such a way as to harmonize with the music of the noble spirits who were considered the originators of the harmony of the cosmos, the music of the spheres.

It shows that the culture of singing is also the culture of being, and that the monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty. This intrinsic requirement of speaking with God and singing of him with words he himself has given, is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music. It was not a form of private “creativity”, in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion. Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the “ears of the heart” the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men, and thus discovering music that is worthy of God, and at the same time truly worthy of man, music whose worthiness resounds in purity.

By becoming a monk, a man set out on a broad and noble path, but he had already found the direction he needed: the word of the Bible, in which he heard God himself speaking. Now he had to try to understand him, so as to be able to approach him. So the monastic journey is indeed a journey into the inner world of the received word, even if an infinite distance is involved. Within the monks’ seeking there is already contained, in some respects, a finding. Therefore, if such seeking is to be possible at all, there has to be an initial spur, which not only arouses the will to seek, but also makes it possible to believe that the way is concealed within this word, or rather: that in this word, God himself has set out towards men, and hence men can come to God through it. To put it another way: there must be proclamation, which speaks to man and so creates conviction, which in turn can become life.

The fulfilment of all desire

I have met Ralph Martin when he came to Poland with John Wimber. They were the main speakers at the conference in Warsaw, where about 3, 000 believers (Catholics and Protestants) gathered to hear about Jesus’ love and power operating in our times.

15 years later, I’ve just finished Martin’s book “The fulfilment of all desire”.

by Ralph Martin

YOU MUST READ IT

This is not a book only for those who think that they are called to a “life of prayer” (by the way, how else we can communicate and fellowship with God Himself?). It is not only for those who recognize an intercessory role as their primary function within the body of Christ. It’s not only for those who identify themselves as evangelicals or charismatics or mystics or emergent church.

It’s for those who:

  • desire to acknowledge that there is a depth to the knowledge of God, which we, in our “instant society” are lacking profoundly
  • those who are experiencing hunger for God
  • those who love challenges
  • those who believe that inspiration of the past generations can be valuable
  • those who want to go deeper in understanding the ways to reach their Creator
  • those who need biblical proof that all of these mystics are right
  • don’t understand why things are happening, when they laid down their whole lives to Jesus
  • those who struggle with prayer life
  • those who are tired of seven-points-to-successful-prayer
  • those who are searching for the ancient truths spoken in a modern language
  • those who love God Himself above everything else, who burned the bridges, who know that there is nothing else to come back to, but are apprehensive of stepping into the unknown
  • those who want to become saints ( and I am quite serious about that one)

If you were struggling while reading “Fire within” by T. Dubay, this is “easier to read” version for the same subject – prayer.

WARNING

You will be messed up for some time, possibly for life…

You will discover (if you don’t know yet) that the whole body of Christ should be greatful to the Catholics for their wisdom…

You will wonder why no one told you these things before, and how come all of it is in the Bible…

You will discover something about yourself that someone else already knew hundreds years ago…

You will feel that you are a part of something bigger…

800 years old sound of heaven

click on the photo to go to their website

Would you like to write a song that would be sang for few centuries and still be fascinating, never boring, heart opening for generations to come? Would you like to give up the copy rights for it? No fame for your name…

That happens right now in Europe. People, particularly young, are buying Winehouse, Radiohead, U2 and lately “Chant-Music for Paradise”. The last one debuted in UK as 9th in the song charts, totally unexpected, and now bunches of sociologists, psychologists and other “-gists” are trying to figure out what’s going on.

Are we overwhelmed with the speed of life, and need some calming, simplified singing to stop our havoc? Are we bored with the noisy postmodern version of music and looking for refreshing sounds for our iPods? Are we trying frantically to invent something new, but we can’t be creative and quick enough, evolving from one sound to the next, so we reach for the ancient old?

800 years old house of prayer

This story starts with one of the monks who sent the link to their music to the Universal Music. Universal was searching for something new, and they were picked.

13 Cistercian monks were picked to record the album. The chants were written few hundred years ago by anonymous monks. The ones on the album include Veni Creator Spiritus ( I sang it sooo many times before, it’s beautiful) and few funeral chants, as two of their brothers recently died and they did not feel like singing “upbeat chants”. They recorded the album in a church, praying/singing the chants. That’s what they do for living in the Stift Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Austria, founded in 1133, as a house of prayer to thank and praise God and to intercede for the sake of the whole world. It was open continually, till today. They pray 5 times a day together, chanting prayers, and working.

The phenomenal singers are asked to tour around, but they refuse, because they are called to Ora et Labora, following the order of St. Benedict.

800 years old songs

What are the characteristics of this form of sung prayer, which is “daily bread” in convents and monasteries?

Father Wallner: Gregorian chant is very ancient. It was born in the first millennium, appearing already in the 4th century, and in many aspects is addressed to the Most High.

First of all the texts are, for the most part, verses from the Bible: hence it is the word of God, which from the mouths of men returns to God in the form of singing.

In the second place, the composers of the melodies were pious anonymous men consecrated to God, mostly monks, who created the music not out of a desire for fame, but men who desired, once the work was complete, to return to total anonymity. Hence, men who in their longing for holiness created something holy.

In the third place, chant is very fascinating, inasmuch as it is situated outside our normal experience of music. There are no tones of C major or D minor, there are no tempi, there is no established rhythm; it is a song for only one voice. Hence, it is a different sound from all other sounds that we today call music. And at the same time, it is at the root of all that which subsequently developed as music.

Fourth point: chant is above all a sung prayer. We sing it always before the altar; therefore, it is not for the people, but for God. That is why we can never go on tour with our chant, because it is always a question of prayer. The recordings for the CD “Chant — Music for Paradise” were also taken from prayer. (from Catholic Online)

Gregorian chant is a form of sung prayer which has been tried and tested through the centuries. It has pre-Christian roots in the ancient Jewish Temple Liturgy. The early Christians adopted many of the ancient chants and developed them further. The Roman Church had the core of what we now know as Gregorian chant by the 7th and 8th centuries. The name “Gregorian chant” comes from Pope St. Gregory the Great (died 604) who founded a “schola cantorum,” a chant school, which collected all the existing chants.

These texts are generally taken from the Bible, the word of God. Thus the monks sing back to God the words which He has Himself given us…joining Heaven and earth. Most of the texts are taken from the Old Testament Psalms. The music is always at the service of the text—unfolding its meaning, and disposing the soul to enter into its spirit ( from their web site).

desert fathers – few thoughts

Abba Antony said,

For the sake of Greek learning, men go overseas. But the City of God has its foundations in every seat of human habitation. The kingdom of God is within. The goodness that is in us asks only the human mind.”

A brother asked abba Poemen,

“How should I behave in my cell in the place where I am living?”

He replied,

“Behave as if you were a stranger, and wherever you are, do not expect your words to have an influence and you will be at peace.”

Abba Moses asked abba Sylvanus,

“Can a man lay a new foundation every day?”

The old man said, “If he works hard, he can lay a new foundation at every moment.”

An old man said,

“Every time a thought of superiority or vanity moves you, examine your conscience to see if you have kept all the commandments, whether you love your enemies, whether you consider yourself to be an unprofitable servant and the greatest sinner of all. Even so, do not pretend to great ideas as though you were perfectly right, for that thought destroys everything.”

Abba Lot went to see abba Joseph and he said to him,

“Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?”

Then the old man stood up and streched his hands toward heaven; his fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him,

“If you will, you can become all flame.”