Wednesday 25th November 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of Apostles . . . Mother Cecilia Describes What Is Deeper In Their Music

March 1, 2014 Frontpage No Comments


(Editor’s Note: In the third week of February, Lent at Ephesus from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles debuted at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Classical Overall Music Chart and Classical Traditional Music Chart. The album also earned the No. 49 spot on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart, the No. 2 spot on the Contemporary Christian Chart, and the No. 3 spot on the Christian Gospel and Internet charts.
(“We are amazed and humbled by the undeniable role of divine Providence in the success story behind the ethereal music from the monastic Benedictines of Mary,” said Monica Fitzgibbons, co-founder of De Montfort Music [], which produces the albums.
(The Benedictines of Mary have two earlier albums: Advent at Ephesus and Angels and Saints at Ephesus, which were also chart toppers.
(The Wanderer interviewed Mother Cecilia of the Benedictines of Mary about their music, their vocations to the religious life, and their daily routines. The interview was conducted via e-mail. Following is the text of the interview.)

+    +    +

Q. Tell us how your recording for De Montfort music first came about.
A. We began a novena to St. Therese after two Sisters read (unbeknownst to each other) that she came to the aid of other communities who were in need of financial help. It was during that time that we heard from Monica and Kevin Fitzgibbons from De Montfort Music. They had been given one of our self-produced CDs that we made for our donors, which sat in a pile for quite a long time. Their five-year-old pulled it out one day and asked to listen to it.
They liked what they heard so much, that they decided to approach us to ask if we would like to collaborate with them in order to bring this music to a wider audience. They had a great desire to bring the beauty of sacred music to our secular culture, and we were delighted to assist in making that happen, on the condition that our life of prayer and sacrifice would not be disturbed.
They have done an excellent job in carrying this stipulation out. It has been a collaboration that could only have been designed in Heaven!
Q. Did you have any doubts about making your music more widely available?
A. The only hesitation I had is precisely what I mentioned above, that is, if the music became a success, it might adversely affect our monastic life. But the guards were in place right from the start to keep that tightly in check, and life flows on here at the Priory just as it did before, with the happy addition that we are able to pay down our debt more quickly!
Q. What has been the most rewarding reaction you have received to your recordings?
A. We give the greatest thanks to God when we hear that a Catholic is inspired to return to the sacraments upon hearing our music. There is nothing greater that could come from this endeavor, except perhaps a non-Catholic being drawn into the Church!
In addition, many people have shared with us how much peace the music brings to them. It has often been a means of great comfort when a loved one is dying, or else a general sense of tranquility and aid to lifting ones thoughts and spirits to God.
Q. You have a following among classical music devotees as well as among people who love religious music. When you get reactions to your recording from the classical music fans, what do they typically say?
A. Honestly, I’m not sure that I could discriminate between comments from those who are drawn because of the religious aspect and those who are taken by the simple element of the classical genre. I think there is perhaps a sense of wonder that a recording done by amateurs could attract such a wide variety of music lovers. It seems that even the classical music aficionados can hear that there is something deeper in the music that makes it different. And that is our conviction, our unity, and the love for God that is foundational in all that we are singing.
Q. Have any vocations to your order been inspired in part by your music?
A. There have been additional inquiries since the release of our recordings, but we do have to filter out those who simply like to sing, and those who have a genuine vocation to seek a life of union with God, which entails a great deal more than making a recording!
Q. Your monastery is young — an average age of 29 among the 22 nuns, according to a recent report on Yahoo. What has drawn these young women to your monastery, and when was it founded?
A. Our monastery was founded in 1995 in the Diocese of Scranton, Pa. I think I speak for most of the Sisters here by relating my own desires when searching for a community about 11 years ago. As I will mention later, I had at that time discovered the ancient form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and knew that this liturgy must be an integral part of my religious life.
That, coupled with the chanting of the Divine Office in Latin, the faithful adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, the wearing of the traditional habit, a strict horarium and the charity and the joy manifested by the Sisters were all primary factors in drawing me to this particular community, as I know they have been for the others in the community.
We had over 50 young ladies visit us last year to discern! There is such a hunger out there for authentic religious life, and God has not stopped calling souls.
Q. What inspired the monastery’s move to northwest Missouri?
A. There were various factors that brought us to this little plot of ground a few years ago, beginning with [Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.] Bishop [Robert] Finn’s invitation in 2006 to come to this diocese. We lived in a convent that had not been used for several years next door to a high school, and it was not long before a couple from the city of St. Joseph offered to donate to us a large parcel of farmland, an offer we couldn’t refuse! We borrowed money to build on the property in order to live the more agricultural monastic life that we desired.
Q. What is a typical day like for your Benedictine nuns?
A. We rise every morning at 4:30 to begin chanting the first of our eight designated periods for the Divine Office, which serve as stepping stones throughout the day, and taking up between three to four hours. The rest of the time is filled in with Mass, mental prayer, rosary, meals, recreation, and manual labor, which includes such work as sewing vestments, farming, gardening, cooking, and office work.
We keep silence throughout the day, except for recreation of course, and only necessary questions or instructions during work time. This pattern varies little from day to day, with slight adjustments for Sundays and feasts.
Q. Do all the nuns participate in the singing and the recording of the music?
A. Our dear Sr. Wilhelmina does not participate in the recordings, but after over 70 years of fidelity to the religious life, she has earned a seat on the side to cheer the rest of us on! There is also a Sister delegated to take care of her during the time of the recordings — we term her Sr. Wilhelmina’s “angel.”
Q. Mother Cecilia, can you tell our readers something about how you realized your own vocation to religious life?
A. I understood at a very young age that God was asking something very special of me, something that would involve the complete and unreserved gift of my entire being. I cannot explain exactly how I knew, though it originated from nothing external, only a deep awareness within my own heart. It was always there with me throughout my teenage years, though in a dormant state.
I can directly point to two things that served to awaken this latent call in my soul, though there were many other lesser factors as well. The first was my introduction to early sacred music (at a secular university)! The music of Palestrina, Allegri, Victoria, and other Renaissance composers had a profound and captivating effect on me. The transcendental beauty of the harmonies reaffirmed in my soul that there was more to this life than can be seen with the eyes.
I began to search for a church that made use of this kind of music within the context of the sacred liturgy. That was not to happen until I attended my first Tridentine Mass in 2000. Without hesitation, I can say it was precisely on that day in December that my life changed entirely. I wept for nearly an hour as I witnessed for the first time the beauty of this Mass. I was swept away by the angelic sounds of chant and polyphony, the incense, bells, and ultimately the overriding sense of mystery and sacredness wrought by a profound reverence.
Without knowing Latin, I understood better than I ever had in my previous 22 years, that the Mass was truly the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary. I left the church resolved to learn more not only about this ancient and perennial Mass, but to learn more about my Catholic faith as well.
The continuing and steady encounters with this new-found beauty fed my soul, and awakened the call that had been hidden in my heart for so long. While in the midst of my professional career in an orchestra, I finally and unreservedly followed after this most patient Lord.

Joyful Charity

Q. How do you relate the release of your recordings to Pope Francis’ call for a year devoted to consecrated life in 2015?
A. It seems that perhaps these recordings are most Providential for the upcoming year for consecrated life, as they are a means of showing to many people who may not otherwise have realized, that young and thriving religious communities do still indeed exist within the Church!
Q. Describe your most recent release, the collection of lenten hymns.
A. It is a compilation of the most beautiful chants the Church reserves for the Passion of the Lord, intricate yet simple harmonies and rousing hymns of glory and redemption such as those from Palm Sunday. O Sacred Head Surrounded, made famous by Bach’s oratorios, All Glory Laud and Honor, the well-known Adoramus Te Christe, and the entrancing Improperia from the liturgy of Good Friday, and three original pieces are also featured among the 23 tracks.
Q. As Lent is approaching and your latest release is about Lent, what do you think people need to focus on most for worthy lenten devotions?
A. Traditionally, we are exhorted not only to corporal penance, but to the “tripod” of prayer, penance, and good works. There must always intensified penance, but it is most important to keep a spirit of joyful charity, as joy is the mark of acceptance of God’s will in every circumstance in a soul that truly loves Him. It is what the Lord Himself tells us in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, “not to fast as the hypocrites do,” but out of love.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

How did heterodox prelates try to change doctrine at synod?

In this address delivered at the Catholic Voice conference Faith of Our Fathers, Matthew McCusker of Voice of the Family discusses three key elements of the “progressive” strategy deployed at the Ordinary Synod: arguing for changes in the Church’s language,…Continue Reading

Bishop Defends Against ‘Vicious’ Bill Donohue Attack

by Church Militant • • November 24, 2015 65 Comments Bishop Rene Henry Gracida is criticizing the Catholic League The bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas is defending against what he calls the “vicious attack” by Catholic League’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis to German Bishops: Your Church is a mess! Fix it and … GO TO CONFESSION!

The German bishops are making their ad limina visit. Every few years diocesan bishops have to go to Rome to meet with offices of the Roman Curia and, usually, the Pope. Pope Francis gave an address to the German bishops…Continue Reading

Germany’s bishops discuss decentralizing the Church in meeting with Pope Francis

ROME, November 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The German bishops, sixty-seven of them, recently visited Rome together for their obligatory Ad Limina visit with the pope from November 16-20. This Ad Limina visit, which is obligatory for all bishops of the…Continue Reading

In Australia, Catholic Bishops Face Court Action, Huge Fines Over Traditional Views on Marriage

Australians have always viewed America’s litigious culture with suspicion. Our “no worries mate” approach to life means we tend not to rush off to court at the drop of a hat. So last week when a state government commissioner ruled…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl’s Embassy Row Penthouse

Walking through the posh neighborhood of Embassy Row in October, I stumbled across a scoop: that Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl lives in a penthouse atop a mansion priced north of $40 million. That Embassy Row mansion is the Our…Continue Reading

Australia investigating archbishop for distributing pamphlet defending true marriage

TASMANIA, Australia, November 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — An Australian Catholic archbishop is facing legal action after recently distributing a pamphlet to local Catholic school children that supported Catholic teaching on marriage being between a man and woman. “Dear Friends, I…Continue Reading

A ‘most powerful woman’ – National Geographic’s major hat tip to the Virgin Mary

Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2015 / 03:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Our Lady. Blessed Mother. Virgin Mary. Queen of Peace. Theotokos. Handmaid of the Lord. Mother Mary. These are just some of the titles used to describe the young woman to…Continue Reading

At Al Smith Dinner, Former Mayor Bloomberg Honors Vets

Speaking at the Al Smith Dinner on the eve of Veterans Day, former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took time from his humorous political remarks to remind guests “there are a lot of places around the world where…Continue Reading

Bishop Rebukes Catholic College for Allowing Massive Planned Parenthood Display on Campus

A Catholic bishop in Indiana is calling out a Catholic college for promoting Planned Parenthood and abortion this week. As LifeNews previously reported, Saint Mary’s College, a Catholic school in Notre Dame, Indiana, hosted the large pro-Planned Parenthood display in…Continue Reading

Former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic reopens as pro-life pregnancy center

BRYAN, TX, November 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The former Planned Parenthood abortion facility where Abby Johnson once worked as director is now a pro-life haven for women in crisis pregnancy. The facility is now aptly named, “Hope.” It celebrated its…Continue Reading

Supreme Court agrees to rule on birth control insurance mandate

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to settle a widespread dispute between the Obama administration and religious non-profits over insurance coverage for birth control, which is sure to elevate issues of religious freedom and reproductive rights in next year’s…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis en route to Kenya


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has departed from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport amid tight security and is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on Wednesday afternoon at the beginning of his six-day Apostolic Visit to three African Nations. Linda Bordoni is in Nairobi awaiting the Pope and sent us this report: Day one of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Kenya begins at five pm Nairobi time on Wednesday when he touches down at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport…Continue Reading

Pope’s Q-and-A on the Challenges of Education

“To rethink the works of mercy, the 14 works of mercy; to rethink how to do them, but in education” Rome, November 23, 2015 ( Staff Reporter On Saturday, the Holy Father received in audience participants in the World Congress “Education Today and Tomorrow: A Passion that Is Renewed” (Rome, November 18-21, 2015), organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education (of the Institutes of Studies) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration of…Continue Reading

“One who looks at the cross cannot help but see the surprising gratuitousness of love”

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, on this solemnity of Christ the King and also the feast of St. Cecilia. * * * Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. And the Gospel of today brings us to contemplate Jesus as…Continue Reading

U.S. Bishops clash as Pope Francis appointees push to downplay battle for life and family

LifeSiteNews/ Lisa Bourne and Patrick B. Craine  Nov 20, 2015 – BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of Pope Francis’ episcopal appointees and other like-minded prelates provoked an open clash at the American Catholic bishops’ fall meeting in Baltimore this week as they pressed the conference to rewrite its election guide for 2016 to downplay the importance of the battle for life and family. Ahead of a vote on a revision to…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: the Church must not worship “holy bribery


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said that the Church must not be obsessed by money or power, nor worship “holy bribes”. Instead her strength and joy should come from the words of Christ. He was speaking at the morning mass at Casa Santa Marta on Friday. The Holy Father reflected on the reading from Maccabees, which tells of the people’s joy following the reconsecration of the Holy Temple, which had been destroyed by pagans and those…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke . . . Marriage Catechesis Should Be Priority For Catholic Schools

By ADAM CASSANDRA (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from the November 16 Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. All rights reserved.) + + + Sound catechesis on marriage is “a great, great responsibility” for Catholic schools and colleges, Raymond Cardinal Burke told a representative of The Cardinal Newman Society…Continue Reading

Drug Smugglers Flow Across Our Border, Syrian Christians Don’t

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + Whom should Americans see as worthier candidates for entering our country? Syrian Christians fleeing persecution — and possible beheading by the Islamic State — or smugglers moving drugs across our…Continue Reading

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: A Forgotten Beatitude

By JAMES MONTI When reflecting upon the sacredness of all human life, a cemetery is probably not the first thing that comes to our mind. And yet a Catholic cemetery is actually one of the Church’s most profound expressions of this truth by affirming in practice that every human life is so sacred that even…Continue Reading

Escape From Cynicism

By DONALD DeMARCO Cynicism results when a person believes that he has conquered hope. Since it is a conquest of sorts, though surely a negative and counterproductive one, it can endow the cynic with a certain amount of pride. In a similar way, a younger brother can take pride in knocking over the tower of…Continue Reading

Paris And Freedom

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The tragedy in Paris on November 13 has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in Western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty. They…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Irish Priest In Kenya . . . Describes What The Pope Will Find

By KATHLEEN NAAB (Editor’s Note: Fr. Conor Donnelly is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei, a medical graduate from University College Dublin, and has a doctorate in theology from the University of Navarre. He has lived for 10 years in Manila, 12 in Singapore, and has been in Nairobi for ten years. (In the November 17 interview below…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Defenseless Europe A Lesson For Defending Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK While recently on retreat in New York, you might say I celebrated the Church’s year of consecrated life as I prayed daily Mass for the sisters who kindly hosted me. I invited them to kneel at the Communion rail to receive our Lord as I do at every Mass at my home parish. They all…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… “Sola Scriptura” — The End

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Here is a simple question for those people who believe in sola Scriptura: If every Christian had the ability — a God-given ability, of course — to interpret Scripture on his own, why is it that there are so many contradictory doctrines held by those who espouse it? Bible interpretation is not an easy thing…Continue Reading

Forms Of Consecrated Life Within The Church

By DON FIER Part 3 The majority of last week’s column dealt with the third form of consecrated life outlined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), that of religious life. Generally recognized as the most familiar and visible form of consecrated life in the Church, religious life encompasses many different expressions: from nuns or monks who devote their…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Regarding a recent reply about the steps to be taken by a man who wanted to return to the Catholic Church after having been a Mormon, I have a similar question, and I wonder if your answer would be the same. Someone close to me, who was a practicing Catholic, now denies the existence of God. If this person…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raphael Kalinowski

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many terms we use in our language which are clichés. We hear people say that somebody “kicked the bucket,” meaning that he has died, or “I’ll send you to outer Mongolia,” meaning that they will ship you so far away no one will find you. Fr. Kalinowski not only went to a place just north…Continue Reading