Christmas gifts…

Last post before Christmas came through my letterbox this morning and with it two wonderful gifts which I would like to share.

• The first was a copy of the Christmas edition of the Good News, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal magazine. As usual, it is packed with uplifting features and testimonies. Thank you, Gabriele.

If you would like to receive a copy of the Good News magazine then go to the website of the CCR.

• The second gift came from America, (thank you, Denis) a most beautiful music cd by Mike Nolan, and every track inspired by Our Lady and the Holy Spirit. It really is an outstanding piece of work produced with much love, and I would recommend it to everyone.

It’s titled Clothed with the Sun – a Tribute to Our Lady of Medjugorje, by Michael Baru Nolan. Copies and sample tracks are available via Michael’s website: www.michaelbaru.com

Listed tracks are: Our Lady’s Herald, Gloria, Gospa Majka Moja 1, Psalm 8, Gospa Majka Moja 2, Alleluia, Ave Maria, Gospa Majka Moja 3. Litany of Our Lady, Sanctus/Memorial Acclamation/Great Amen. Tantum Ergo, Our Lady and the Eucharist.

Here’s an article about Michael and his music ministry published in Today’s Catholic a few days ago:

Blessed Mother leads guitarist to music ministry
by Diane Freeby

What began a a mother’s prayer that her son just make it through his senior year of high school blossomed into both a musical and spiritual adventure for South Bend native Mike Nolan.

Inspired by his older brother, Mike started playing guitar 20 years ago at the age of 11. With no formal training, he picked the instrument up quickly and was hooked. But as Mike looks back, he says his self-image became reliant on what he could do musically.

“I love making music,” recalls Mike. “But I didn’t necessarily share it to bring joy to others, or to give glory to God.” Meanwhile, Cathy Nolan was worried about her son’s educational future.

“One day, his mother was praying for him,” explained Mike’s dad, Denis. “He was going to begin his seniior year and didn’t have much of an educational direction, and she was worried about his future. She asked the Lord what she could do to help, and felt the Holy Spirit say, ‘Get him music lessons.’”

So, the Nolans called Mendoza’s Guitar and asked if anyone there could take him on, and if they could possibly get him ready for music school in one year. The answer was “yes” and Mike began lessons at age 18. He sped through the class curriculum and was actually recommended by Mendoza’s to teach other students by the end of that year.

“Mike is the only local guitar teacher that my studio will recommend,” said Mendoza’s owner Richard Wisner. “He’s an excellent musician and an excellent teacher.”

With some hard work and a lot pf prayers, Mike graduated from St Joseph’s High Scool in 1994. That fall, he was off to Indiana University, South Bend (IUSB) where he studied classical guitar. Mike went on to graduate as Musician of the Year, a dream he had when he began college.

Meanwhile, Mike continued to grow spiritually. As a young teen Mike recalls meeting guitarist John Miller Whitney, who pulled Mike aside to talk about musiic during a Medjugorje conference. “He stressed that the most important thing for me to do,” remembers Mike, “even more important than how I was progressing musically, was to beg the Holy Spirit to come to lead me, and to keep my eyes and heart on Him always. Well, I took this seriously and consecrated my music to God over and over again.”

“I still had a split musical personality,” explains Mike. “I was consecrating it to God and still using my music to draw attention to myself. Finally, God stripped me of music completely. Lest the seed fall to the ground and die, it remains only a seed. Well, he allowed me to ‘die’ musically and for two years I didn’t even look at my guitar. I didn’t listen to music. I didn’t sing in the shower, or hum while I was driving. I literally loathed music.”

Mike says he was completely devoid of any music when he received the idea of his guitar rendition of Litany of Our Lady – now featured on his most recent CD, Clothed with the Sun. “I actually dreaded picking up my guitar to start recording, but I came down to the studio having spent some time in Adoration, and I just decided to go through it for Our Lady.”

As Mike emerged from his musical dry spell, he took more joy in playing his music, consecrating it all to Jesus through Mary, Queen of Peace. Mike’s devotion to the Blessed Mother is essential to both him and his wife, Annie, as they raise their four young children in the Catholic faith.

“I have found that Our Lady is like a warp zone to the heart of Jesus,” explains Mike. “You can go to Jesus your own way, or you can use one of the greatest gifts God has given us, Mary. Especially in this time, she is able to accomplish things unheard of. I am definitely not attentive enough to her, but the daily Rosary especially is the lifeblood of myself and my family. I don’t think we would survive without it.”

Mike and Annie make a practise of saying the Rosary together each morning, and again in the evening with their children. Annie leads the children herself just two nights out of the week while Mike teaches guitar in the basement of their home.

Families are so busy these days that stopping to say the Rosary together might seem like a tall order. But the Nolans are firm believers in the graces received with such a devotion to Our Lady. Mike and Annie agree that one key to invloving children in the Rosary is to make it part of the daily routine. “I heard some great advice once,” said Mike. “If your children are agitated during lunch, you don’t eliminate lunch altogether, do you? You find a way to get through and slowly they grow into responsible lunch-eaters who will probably continue to eat lunch for the rest of their lives. Well, the same goes for the family Rosary. Many people start with good intentions, but give up because the kids can’t handle it.”

Mike suggest keeping the family Rosary in the spirit of invitation, and utilize your children’s amazing imaginations with descriptive meditations. And most of all, the parents must pray with their whole hearts. even if the child is distracted, he or she is absorbing the spirit of prayer. “I remember pouting and hating it when my dad called us to the family Rosary at home,” said Mike. “But also being filled with the wisdom and the presence of God as the Rosary progressed. God is patient and kind, and he worked with me where I was. He needed my parents to be faithful to daily family prayer and to actually pray with their hearts.”

Mike’s Catholic faith and family life remains intertwined with his music. His first cd, Maijka, is what Mike calls “me having fun with the guitar, lots of improvisation with a few acoustic pop songs thrown in.” His second cd is a different story. Mike has received much more response from Clothed with the Sun, which he attributes to Our Lady.

“Basically, each piece was written and recorded without knowing a cd was the finished product,” explained Mike. “I was writing each piece because it was burning in my heart at the time. A friend urged me to make a cd, but it has definitely not been my project from the start. God sort of designed the whole thing and let me in on it at the end, which is why I think He is able to use it much more. Artists have a moral responsibility to be vehicles for true beauty. I desperately want my children to be filed with life. And I would never want darkness for someone else’s child. I earnestly hope to be morally responsible as an artist.”

But perhaps the best success Mike Nolan, the family man and musician, has achieved is stated very simply by his own parents. When asked what makes them most proud of their son, they simply say, “How he’s responded to God.”

Litany of Our Lady – with slideshow… It’s beautiful!

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