SINGING missionary and theology lecturer Sr Maeve Heaney has written a Lenten program designed to lead Catholics through forms of prayer “essential” to understanding the meaning of conversion in Lent.
Titled “light from within”, the new program includes prayerful reflections on the Sunday Gospels in Lent (Year A) and four new songs written by Sr Heaney, a consecrated missionary sister of Verbum Dei, which is Latin for “Word of God”.
It is the Irish-born sister’s first time writing a Lenten program in Australia, where she is director of the Xavier Centre for Theological Formation and senior lecturer at Australian Catholic University’s Banyo Campus.
Sr Heaney said Lent was a time of conversion, which was “not something you do” but rather “a journey of prayer” that led people to understand what they might need to seek from God.
And what God might seek could be surprising.
“Conversion could be, ‘Maybe that I feel more loved? Let go of the pain holding inside? Discover joy?’,” Sr Heaney said.
“And let God shed light on that.”
Sr Heaney shows glimpses of her own personal experiences of daily conversions through the accompanying music.
The second song on the accompanying CD, Every Moving Light, was written about the grace and peace Sr Heaney found after an exhausting period of mission.
“It’s about exhaustion and tiredness and Jesus crucified, and when ministry demands so much of you,” she said.
“I wrote if after a long year of mission.
“I sat in front of the crucifix and I felt so welcome and at peace, with the sense ‘You’re doing exactly what I want you to do, you can find me in that’.
“If we’re attentive to faith, Christ is in our everyday life.”
The first song, Nameless, which appears in the third week of Lent, also leaves readers with a piece of Sr Heaney’s own personal prayer life.
The song is based on John 4, the account of the Samaritan woman at the well and Sr Heaney’s favourite scripture.
“My first experience of prayer was through that reading,” Sr Heaney said.
“Scripture scholars have explored what the meaning of that woman at the well could mean.
“That conversation between her and Jesus is tremendously theological, highly symbolical.
“And we don’t know her name.
“This song was about giving access to John 4.”
The third song on the CD is Lament, an ode to Pope Francis’ prayer for the Year of Mercy, while the final song, Dancing in our Minds, gives an explanation to doubting Thomas’ lack of faith in the resurrection.
Sr Heaney said she hoped the Lenten program would be a space for people to find new ways of letting God speak into areas of lives that needed converting to Christ.
“I feel like a Lenten book is opening a space,” she said. “I hope it will help those who read it find their own space, their own thoughts, let the music fade into the distance, and help people connect with Christ and what this Lent is meant to be.
The “light from within” book and CD are available separately through Garratt Publishing.