BY PETER BAKLINSKI
Wed Dec 12, 2012 16:41 EST
Tags: Advent At Ephesus
The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles record their advent album in the chapel at their convent.
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.
Kevin and Monica Fitzgibbons
“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.
The cover of the smash-hit Advent at Ephesus
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.
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.
Music from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles was brought to Kevin and Monica’s attention by their son while they were riding in the car one day. They were so impressed by what they heard that they 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.