‘Dada…that’s Jesus music’: Pro-life couple helps chanting nuns top charts, again
FLORIDA, June 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The secular world felt it had surely foretasted heaven after hearing the chart-smashing angelic voices of a new order of young nuns last Christmas. Now, with the help of a pro-life husband/wife team, the nuns have done it again, this time with an album that can be listened to the whole year long.
Angels and Saints at Ephesus by The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, has spent 29 days on Amazon.com’s “top 100” best sellers in any genre of music, at one point contending with Black Sabbath’s 13 for top spot. It has been # 1 on the Classical Traditional Chart for 6 weeks in a row and #6 on the Classical Chart overall.
Behind the album’s astonishing success lies the conversion story of Kevin and Monica Fitzgibbons, who gave up lucrative positions in the music entertainment business — with mega companies like Sony and DreamWorks — to advance the beauty and truth of God’s kingdom through art.
It was their pro-life conversion at the moment they witnessed a 3D ultrasound of their baby, as well as a deepening in their faith, that changed their hearts and minds about everything they had been living for.
The Fitzgibbons left their jobs and started De Montfort Music to connect the “world” to the “heavenly art” of chant, polyphony and sacred music. Advent at Ephesus by The Benedictines of Mary was their first music endeavor and met with huge success.
“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 told LifeSiteNews.com in a December interview.
“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.”
The Fitzgibbons told LifeSiteNews that there was “such a burst of enthusiasm” for the nun’s first advent album, but that people wanted something they could listen to the whole year round, not just prior to Christmas.
“Once Advent was over, there was this collective input we began to receive expressing this desire to keep listening to this beautiful music. When we approached the Sisters with this feedback, the Sisters themselves were already thinking about a collection they could provide for those who wanted to listen year round,” said Monica.
Then the idea arose to craft an album that paid tribute to the angels and saints celebrated at the convent throughout the year.
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 said that listening to the album is “to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in their chapel.”
“Put on the headphones and you are there.”
“One thing [this music says about our culture] is that people instantly recognize beauty and truth when they are given the chance to experience them. And when experienced together as one, as in the music found in Angels and Saints at Ephesus, they are very attracted and want to get closer.”
Beauty will save the world
The traditional music has an almost magical way of transforming those who listen to it.
“A few weeks ago, I was sitting at the computer while my two-year-old son noisily played with some tupperware behind me,” wrote a recent convert to Catholicism named Ryan on his blog BackOfTheWorld.com. “I clicked on a link to listen to a song from Angels and Saints at Ephesus. The beautiful, a capella voices of the Sisters came softly over the computer speakers as they began a Gregorian chant in Latin.
“Suddenly, I noticed that the banging of tupperware behind me had stopped.”
“I turned to see my two-year-old, standing, staring at the computer, eyes wide open and mouth slightly agape. He took a few steps forward, and then said, breathlessly: ‘Dada…that’s Jesus music.’”
“I was stunned. How on earth did he know that? (Our parish certainly doesn’t do any chanting at the Mass we attend…). He crawled up into my lap, and we listened to the rest of the chant together. And then we listened to it again. And then again. And then again. My boy was totally captivated, totally transfixed, totally enraptured…each time the chant would come to an end, he would look up at me and plead “again, Dada?”
“I bought the album, and now every night my son asks to listen to the ‘Jesus music’ as he falls asleep.”
“And somehow, in ways I will never understand, my two-year-old boy is listening to the beat of the Sacred Heart. He is encountering beauty, and listening to it with childlike ears of faith. He’s learning lessons that only the gentle notes and chords of Heaven can teach him. And all I can do is sit back and treasure up all of these things in my heart.”
People have shared private stories with the Fitzgibbons about how the nun’s music has calmed autistic children, comforted a young mother going through chemotherapy, helped a family stay hopeful and in prayer during the unexpected passing of a young family member, and caused hardened hearts to change.
Kevin called the album a “hidden gem” that creates a “stillness rarely found” in the midst of a “very restless, busy world”.
“To be able to play even a small role in this miraculous happening is one of those things we will always hold with deep gratitude in our hearts,” said Monica.
“Our hope was to try to bring even a little contemplation of Heaven in this life. As someone said on a blog after hearing the recording: ‘If the Cherubim and Seraphim don't sound at least a little like this, it would be a real shock!’”
“This art can be summarized as a private expression going on between The Benedictines of Mary and Our Lord, whom they love with such depth. That the Sisters would be so generous to the world to allow us all to take part in these tender exchanges is really an exclamation of charity. And Charity is the very first virtue I think of when I think of The Benedictines of Mary. Deo Gratias,” she said.
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