Keep reading — giveaway info for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist’s new CD Mater Eucharistiae follows!
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Last Tuesday morning I was scheduled to interview Sister Maria Suso with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist via Skype and add another interview to our growing “Take 5“ video series. You may recognize the sisters from their multiple interviews on The Oprah Winfrey show or maybe even from The American Bible Challenge hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. Locally, our Des Moines readers might make the connection that Miss Laura Downey, now Sister Mary Esther, recently made her solemn profession of vows with the Dominican Sisters of Mary.
At any rate, the Sisters released their debut music album, Mater Eucharistiae, last Tuesday, and my hope was to publish the interview with Sister Maria Suso the same day as the album’s release.
Well, I did interview Sister Maria Suso via Skype, and she was quite delightful. Yes, delightful, I say! I asked her five questions and her response for each was concise, informative, engaging, and entertaining — truly the makings of a terrific Take 5. However, the Internet connection was not robust enough to handle the video call so the picture and at times the sound quality were very distorted. In good conscience, I simply cannot upload the video or the audio here.
Onward Christian Soldiers! Rather than a video interview, I’ll simply leave you with five quick takeaways about the album.
Takeaway 1: The album’s title, Mater Eucharistiae, means Mother of the Eucharist. This is a reflection not only of the religious community’s name but gets to the heart of the Dominican spirituality. They give themselves entirely to Mary so she can shape them to become perfect disciples of Jesus Christ — to give their “total yes” to the Lord just like Mary did. There are fifteen songs on the album; all are reflective of this Dominican spirituality and can be tied back to Mary and the Eucharist. Three of the songs are original compositions written by two of the order’s sisters.
Takeaway 2: The Dominican Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) ends the CD. Quite fitting because every night after Compline (evening prayer), the sisters end with a Marian procession, including singing the Salve Regina. This is one of the oldest traditions in the Dominican Order, dating back to the first generations of Dominican friars in 1221. In fact, the Church’s practice of singing the Salve (or some other Marian antiphon) after Compline grew out of this early Dominican practice.
Takeaway 3: The unity of the sisters’ voices on this album is breathtakingly beautiful. The album’s conductor and director provided technical vocal assistance, of course, but there’s also something bigger at play here. The sisters’ oneness of sound is very reflective and analogous to life as a Dominican. They live an intense life of community and charity and do everything together — pray, eat, recreate, work — and their life really becomes a school of charity. The unity of voice flows from the unity established by living in community. (I’m thinking there’s a message there for us living in our domestic churches, too, huh?)
Takeaway 4: The music leads with beauty. Listeners will be drawn upward, toward God, and the album becomes an evangelistic tool because of this element. As you ”walk” through the album with the Sisters, you will feel like you’ve walked with them in prayer in their chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan where the album was recorded.
Takeaway 5: With their numbers growing — 110 sisters currently, 20 women entering the convent at the end of August, and more than three times as many invitations to send sisters to schools and dioceses worldwide as there are sisters — the Dominicans are raising funds to build a priory in Austin, Texas, to house 100 women. CD royalties go toward this building campaign.
So, what do you say? Let’s help get that priory built! For purchasing info, head over here.