Peter Baklinski

Masterminds behind chart-smashing nun’s Advent album credit pro-life conversion with success

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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FLORIDA, 12 December, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The angelic voices of a new order of young nuns has taken the world by storm, surpassing Rod Stewart, Taylor Swift, and One Direction in sales last week at major retail outlets such as Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

But behind the astonishing success of Advent at Ephesus lies the amazing story of the Catholic masterminds behind the album, couple Kevin and Monica Fitzgibbons. LifeSiteNews managed to reach them in the midst of their busy schedules and convince them to tell their story.

Once upon a time Kevin and Monica were both highly motivated individuals working at the top in the music entertainment business for mega companies like Sony and DreamWorks. And both were Catholics from large families who had gradually abandoned their faith in their journey to the top.

An entertainment project brought them together in 1997 and they began dating. Each discovered that the other was a non-practicing Catholic. They decided during the penitential season of Lent to go on a Mass date. Something happened to them during the service.

“We immediately felt that God had put both of us together because we were numb-skulls and he wanted us both to figure things out,” Kevin confessed.

“Yeah, he was sick of both of us at that point,” joked Monica.

Kevin and Monica related their experiences of the emptiness, shallowness, and selfishness that exist in the entertainment industry, where God is unwelcome. Most artists, they said, think only of themselves and seek their own glory, trampling over others in their pursuit of wealth and fame, without much interest in the beauty and truth inherent in genuine art. In the end, they said, the industry sucks the soul out of those closest to it, leaving in its path a trail of empty, broken individuals.

The young couple was interested in marriage, but they were troubled by how many of their co-workers failed dismally at marriage. They witnessed infidelity, divorce, and couples who were technically married but living completely separate lives. And they were uneasy about how the entertainment industry viewed children as a hindrance to success.

“The entertainment industry is a lifestyle, and one that is not very kid-friendly. We weren’t comfortable with that,” Monica related.

Kevin and Monica wanted more for their relationship, but they didn’t know how to get there. 

“There was a lot of warfare in our dating as we tried to figure out ‘who we are’ and ‘what is love,’” said Monica.

It began to dawn on the couple that God would somehow have to be part of the equation if they wanted to succeed in their relationship.

Double Life

Kevin and Monica married in the Catholic Church in 2000. As they advanced in their careers and grew deeper in their marriage and in their faith, it became evident to them that they were “leading a double life”.

They realized that they couldn’t take their marriage and faith seriously and continue selling their souls to the devil in the secular entertainment industry. Something would have to give. They decided it wasn’t going to be their love for one another and their newly discovered love for Jesus and his blessed mother Mary.

“The closer we got into our faith, the more we got pulled away from the secular side of the music business,” Kevin related.

It was around this time that the couple learned that they were expecting. Pregnancy became a “total game-changer” for them.

Monica says that at around this time she began to notice that there were no role models that she could relate to in her work environment, especially at the VP senior director level. She noticed that all the women at the top were unmarried and that they “didn’t have a very feminine quality to them.” She “began to be afraid” that she would have to compromise her dreams of raising children if she was to stay relevant in her workplace.

Meanwhile, Kevin’s own views of unborn babies and fatherhood had been formed largely by his pro-choice co-workers who considered pregnancy to be a choice between a woman and her doctor.

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Ultrasound Game-changer

But a 3D ultrasound of their pregnancy radically changed their hearts and minds about everything.

“After seeing the image of our baby, we realized that we had been numbskulls for so long. We were immediately converted to being pro-life,” they said.

The baptism of their newborn son helped Kevin and Monica realize even more clearly that the industry they worked for was waging a war for the souls of men, women, and children. The Old Rite baptism includes an exorcism where Satan is bound in the name of Jesus and commanded to depart forever from the life of the newly baptized.

The couple says that they suddenly saw that their work in the entertainment industry largely advanced the kingdom of darkness and selfishness, not the kingdom of beauty and truth. They saw through the glamour of the music and film that they had devoted their lives to. They saw the “hold” that it had on them. And they despised what they saw.

The couple decided to extract themselves from the industry, but the more they tried to cut themselves loose, the more they were offered lucrative business deals and raises in their salaries.

It wasn’t until watching Gibson’s Passion of The Christ that the couple realized that it was possible to go independent and produce art that didn’t follow a “copycat cookie cutter” formula.

“The Passion of The Christ was a real kick in the face for us,” Monica related.

The couple moved to Arizona and started Aim Higher Media with the goal of helping real artists get their art out to the masses without it being hijacked by Hollywood nihilism.

“We wanted to help artists who wanted to put out their Christian or Catholic inspired art but who didn’t want it compromised. We wanted them to get their message out without it being edited or spliced,” the couple said.

“We wanted to shine a light on what is true and beautiful in our faith. We have so many hidden gems in the Catholic faith as far as the arts go, especially in sacred music,” said Kevin.

The couple’s connections to the industry allowed them to accomplish big things with very little.

Singing Nuns

Music from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles was recently brought to Kevin and Monica’s attention by their son while they were riding in the car one day. The parents were amazed at the calming effect it had on their now five children (all under the age of nine). Kevin was so impressed by what he heard that he decided to approach the nuns about helping them with their next album.

The nuns agreed.

The Benedictines of Mary are a new monastic order of nuns, founded in 1995. The monastery, which is named Ephesus, is located in Gower, Missouri.  The nuns are semi-cloistered, living a simple life of union with God in prayer, as guided by the Rule of St. Benedict. They pray and sacrifice especially for the sanctification of priests.

The nuns sing together eight times a day as they chant the Divine Office in Latin. They make priestly vestments and sacred linens as well as take care of a small farm that includes animals, gardens, and orchards.

Kevin and Monica enlisted Grammy and Oscar winning producer Glenn Rosenstein to record the album right in the nuns’ chapel. He set up a mobile recording studio and captured Advent at Ephesus in three days, the only amount of time that the nuns would allot for a public intrusion into their secluded way of life.

Advent at Ephesus has maintained the first position on Billboard’s Classical Music Chart for the third straight week.

“Regardless of your political or religious beliefs, you can’t deny the beauty of this art. Anyone who listens to the sisters singing immediately recognizes its beauty,” said Kevin.

Kevin and Monica say that the album’s success is owed not only to God, but to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

“Mary has been a strong and gentle force leading us always ever closer to Her Son and for anything noteworthy we have to offer, it is by way of Her intercession.”

They are grateful for being given a change to bring good into the world through beautiful art.

“If you have ever had a dark past, then you will understand what motivates a soul to try to repair and make a difference,” they said.


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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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