Maeve Louise Heaney

Merging Music and Theology

God’s Justice is called Mercy…

January 19, 2015
Maeve Heaney

One of my new year resolutions… or desires, rather (as I don’t really believe in resolutions), is to hold, taste and be grateful for the life-giving moments. And I had one such extended moment this past week: the possibility of participating in the Clergy Summer School of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane, on the theme of Sing a New Song: Experiencing Music as Theology.

Clergy Summer School 2015

In the beautiful setting of Southport School, with its beautiful buildings, views (and organ!)

IMG_20150112_185716444I had my first real immersion in the ecumenical heritage of this part of the world.

And it was great. It is very beautiful to speak of something that is new and yet recognised – and when theology is ‘chewed over’ by and with people coming from the harvest fields and going back into them, the flavour is rich, because the spice has had time to take hold.

Of the many blessings was the interweaving of themes and experiences with composer and author Geoff Bullock.

Clergy Summer School 2

Strange (or is it?) how people can come from such different paths and find themselves in perfect harmony on the transforming grace and mercy of God. So it made complete sense to finish off in song together.

Thank you Geoff, for accompanying me singing Lead Kindly Light, and inviting me in to sing The Power of your Love – new lyrics and all – with you. That song marked a whole groups of us journeying in music ministry in England quite a while ago. It was an honour to make music with you, as well as to listen to the sound of God’s presence in your journey and find resonances in the room and in my own. God is faithful.







So as we live out what the Church calls  ordinary time, although it never really is, I’m thanking Jesus for the way He leads our lives, and for the mercy upon which we walk…

Song Unfinished

February 7, 2016
Maeve Heaney


This is long overdue. I usually send a new year’s message to those of you who are part of my world but just a bit out of reach. Well new year has passed, and we’re approaching the start of semester here. It is now or never before the madness of another academic year takes over.

And again, this time I decided not to write but rather to offer my latest song. Not easy for me: it is not polished. Maybe even not finished. And only a handmade recording –  hence the procrastination!! But it feels like I am meant to send it. So I will.

I won’t say a lot.

Except that I am well.

And that God’s call to be his, and to bridge his presence to others is as strong as it ever was. Or stronger.

And I miss you :). Australia is great and treats me well. I am where God wants me to be. But you do not have family and friends without sometimes feeling the need to turn around and find them there :). It is a big small world.

And I would be interested, this time, to know your thoughts and suggestions about the song. It emerged, in part, from the loss of people close to me this year, but not only. I am not sure who it is for. The last time I wrote a song on life being short, I was 15!

But it is what it is …. And we shall see what it means, as time goes on. The lyrics are below

Strange Life

It’s a strange life… Are we alright?/ Sorry may be hard to say… til you try goodbye..

Take your time! You gotta slow right down to get things right/ Be yourself! You’re the only one who can work that out!

No one in a hundred thousand years has ever looked like you/ Nowhere in this big wide world can someone do what you might do/ One life… Can’t buy…extra time; Heartbeat, hold me near!

Close your eyes: At times you see the truth best when it’s dark/ you can see what’s true best in the dark – when it’s dark./ Trust yourself…the hardest voice to hear comes from inside… 

Life is too real to not imagine all we’re meant to be…/Life is way too short to waste on anything except your dreams/ Strange life… we try… to walk in style; Beauty, help me see!

Take your time! You gotta slow things down to get them right/ Become yourself! There ain’t no one but you can work that out!

It’s a strange life… Have you found out?/ Sorry may be hard to say… til you try goodbye..




In the Lord, Michael Paul Gallagher

November 8, 2015
Maeve Heaney








It is a grey day – the sometimes-fickle Irish weather knows its place. With a mixture of sadness and deep gratitude, I say goodbye to one of the people who has most influenced my life and thought: Irish Jesuit Michael Paul Gallagher.

MPG in the Lord

This is the person who taught me to trust my own thought, to find my own questions and to bring music and creativity into the heart of my theological thinking. Always supportive, never invasive, quiet, discerning, passionate about that which matters; suitably dismissive of that which does not.

I feel blessed, even while navigating an impoverished landscape without his wise presence somewhere in the background, or on the other side of the world… voicing thoughts on vocation, and women in the Church, and how essential it is we stop living on the surface of ourselves and re-imagine ourselves with more depth and possibility.

When asked in an interview, how he would finish, if on his deathbed, the following sentence  “I’m glad I joined the Jesuits because…” his words, with a smile were: “In the words of psalm 4, (night prayer on Saturday nights…): ‘you have put into my heart a greater joy than abundance of corn and new wine’. There is nothing wrong with abundance of corn and new wine, but there is a greater joy. And I have known it in various places of this strange life. It is a very strange life.”

Rest in peace, MPG.


In the Lord, MLH.


Today’s blog is a personal one. Forgive me if you will. But there is value in sharing that which moves us most. Many years ago I understood that when something touched and gave me life, it was precisely that which would give others life, if I was generous enough to share it. It is not always appropriate, but today it’s where I am, so I will write a bit of my inner world, my sacred place, the ground I grew from, the space in which I am myself and that knows me as such.

This month I have been graced by the presence in Australia of my mother and one of my sisters…


IMG_20150627_102003480_HDRmum for a six weeks


Gráinne for two.

Yesterday morning they both hugged me tight and said: “now go!” as I left them at the airport to take their 23 hour flight to the other side of this tiny and huge planet we inhabit.


And once again, with no regret and grateful for God blessing us at every step of the way, I wept as I walked away from the amazing family who sustain, from a distance, who I am. And it reminded me of the first departure, many years ago, when I was seventeen. My missionary calling is mine and theirs – no doubt about it.

Jesus by TrungWe know God through those who love us unconditionally. Prayer life is important, of course. It is vital. I could not take a step without it. And it takes us deeper. But there is a sixth sense to recognise what’s worthwhile, and a strength that comes from having a family that knows and loves you for who you are no matter what that is so powerful I stand in awe of what I have received and share in. It is moving, sacramental, graced, profound, strong as rock, solid as stone, healthy and cleansing as natural running water. And I thank God for it. It is no wonder that a Synod on marriage and on family is so important. And it is complex – so let’s stop being so polarised  about things. What is at stake is too high.

My mother was more vulnerable than normal in this time. IMG_20150605_140438581She fell and broke her wrist… while in my care! I still blame myself a little for a fall I perhaps could not have predicted 🙁 . But caring for a month for the person who gave me life, tolerated my introverted infancy, my snotty-nosed childhood, my precocious teen years and the heart-wrenching decision to follow the call of a missionary Christ at the age of sixteen, was a privilege. Simply. So thanks Kathleen! The butter in my fridge will never have the same meaning.





And I thankful also of those of you who have recognised this and shared in it, in some way.


photo (2)










This time has allowed my family access where I am and what I do. They have been able to see where I work and live, meet those whom I trust – those who ‘fill in’, in some way, for their absence – and in some way ‘verify’ that I’m doing what I say I do 🙂 .  They have sensed what makes me get up early in the morning and keeps me awake at night, where I invest my energy, what makes me laugh and what robs me of joy. In some cases they have begun to taste the friendships that are becoming important to me. Christian faith is as divine as it is human.

I am so profoundly grateful, even as I miss them. But that’s ok – one of the reasons I chose to follow Jesus was because he offered me a life to the full; a life in which I would “laugh with all my laughter and cry all my tears” (cf., Kahlil Gibran “Speak to me of love”). Anything less is fast food, cardboard tasting life.

BibleSymposium2015_Poster_(ForOnline)I write this as I fly to Singapore to participate in a Symposium organised by the Archdiocese and in collaboration with my ‘second’ family: the community that taught me how to pray: Verbum Dei. A workshop on music in evangelisation and a concert on praying through music. It will be  fantastic…and tremendously hard work :).  But that’s ok. Because I have amazing roots that ground and sustain me, through which God has blessed and continues to bless me abundantly.

This amazing song Conor wrote that says this more eloquently than I could with words: beautiful lives living beautifully.

July 7, 2015
Maeve Heaney

On a personal note…

Random or planned? Reflections…

April 13, 2015
Maeve Heaney



Being a missionary can feel a bit random, at times… as if Someone else rather than you holds the thread of who you are and where you land. And that’s ok – the way it is meant to be, no doubt – a tiny taste of the life of the One who did not have a place to lay his head (Lk 9:58). And you have a freedom that few can ask for, because the world is somehow your oyster … but there is a flip side: the kind of belonging that comes with owning and being owned by a place (a country, a Diocese…) is not given to you; it’s simply not part of the missionary calling. [The exception is, of course, your family – pace Heaney clan:)  – I know I belong to you.]

But I have decided in the Easter-time that I am going to seek the thread amidst the movement… the signs of grace and continuity that show how God knew all along, and allow me taste and savour more just how amazing the life Jesus called me to is. And I know it is. I feel so very blessed at times. But naming is a good thing… so that will be the colour and tone, I hope of the next few blogs… until further notice 🙂 …

Today, as I once find myself on one of the other sides of the world, I am graced by the beauty of another sunshine state,











and by the collaboration of colleagues one meets “again for the first time”…


This morning, as I walked and prayed under a glorious sun and without Queensland humidity 🙂



I found myself observing another way of people living… houses with lights in their windows, families with kids who like football, or basketball, or cricket (although I seem to find running wherever I land, these days)… and I am brought back to when I was 16.

One of my party pieces, and one my father always loved, despite himself, was this one:

I Wonder: Lyrics:

This park and these houses, old streets I have walked/ Everything dear, will it be here
One day when I am returning? My friends will get married, have children and homes
It sounds so nice, well-planned and wise/Never expecting surprises
I wonder, it’s frightening…Leaving now, is that the right thing?
I wonder, it scares me/ But who the the hell am I if I don’t leave it
I’m not a coward…/ Oh no, I’ll be strong
One chance in a lifetime/ Yes I will take it, it can’t go wrong
My friends and my family, this dull little town /Buses I’ve missed, boys that I’ve kissed
Everything old and familiar/…I wonder, it’s frightening…

And this was before I felt called to leave home and seek Jesus and perhaps think about a missionary calling. But when that call did emerge, I remember that one aspect of it was this: an intuition that my destiny was not going to fit in one place, one school, one semi-detached (or detached – for that matter) with 4 kids (or 5 or 10)… That my fate was more fluid and shifting and open and ample than that. It felt too small for me.

So today I thank God for the moving, the changes, the new faces and places and experiences.. the lives I have had access to, the families who have invited me in, the people I would never have met and that mean so much, even when worlds away… the ones who have enriched me beyond measure, and those I have enriched…especially those I have taught to pray.

I thank God for this amazing life in which he is the centre and the root: the hidden life that through him is in God… that that lets me make sense of it all… and it’s a sense my whole being tastes… :

“Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3).


Colour My World Beautiful

February 13, 2015
Maeve Heaney

Taking photos

This post will have a lot of photos and some music – if only because I don’t think I have ever been so photographed as during these past two weeks  – and each and every person with whom those photos were taken  has in one way or another left a mark. For those who were not with me on this adventure I will repeat two things I said there,  which remain as background music to my prayer as I settle back into Australia:

  1. God promises 100/1 to those who leave everything and everyone to follow him, and I am way  past that number, but I think these two weeks take the biscuit at least in intensity:  so very full of re-encountering past friends, colleagues and missionaries, and finding others whose lives have so quickly entered right to the core of mine. For all of this, I am grateful.
  2. When I came to Australia – which felt and feels still now very led by God – one thought I had was that it would bring me closer to Asia, and as a missionary and a lecturer in theology, that felt important: we need to open our minds and reflective processes to know, understand better and integrate this continent’s cultures and ways of thinking into how our faith seeks understanding. So far I have been to Singapore and the Philippines, and I feel that particular aspect of God’s bringing me here has at least begun :).

So after two intense weeks of meeting new people:



Fina and lordie



TV5 radio interview


Bong and I 2



IMG_20150201_205305586Radio 2 with JP











Re-encountering old acquaintances:

Rita and Ireceived_784100044959538

Manila missionaries



Rachel and Luisa












And especially making great music with terrific musicians:

Alan in action 2

IMG_20150206_181529615 (1)IMG_20150206_181522779 (1)IMG_20150206_180609044
















Jay Anne














Including those who stole the show10982838_10152784916512675_8700974980887365811_o

Some seriously organised organizers:














and fellow music-makers, reflecting on what it means to be Christian composers and musicians (as opposed to musicians who are also Christians):













I just wanna say ‘thank you’.

I am confirmed afresh in one profound truth: our God is incarnated, and it is in relationships and friendships – the real, authentic, honest, vulnerable, fragile, intense and beautiful spaces and relationships we share with others that God’s Spirit becomes most powerfully present – and DOES things. Today’s reading: Jesus He takes the blind man off by himself away from the crowd, he puts his finger into the man’s ears, spits, touches his tongue; looks up to heaven and groans a prayer: “Be opened! Ephphatha!” And through all this, the miracle happens – God enters, interrupts, changes, makes his presence felt and our life is coloured beautiful – even in the midst of the need and poverty, the images of which are still before my eyes…God is present and works through our humanity as well, and our music-making.I do not have words to say how deeply I sense, taste, feel, know God in these two things: when I make music

Woman of God

and in honest conversations  in and of our need for God with the people Jesus allows cross my path or places in my hands. These two weeks have had so much of both. Lordie and I


I do not even need to name those of you who have thus enriched my life – you know who you are – but I do need to say I am grateful. So thank you. (We will upload the live video and music when it is mastered.)


Coming up: my first visit to the Philippines

January 23, 2015
Maeve Heaney

Very much looking forward to two concerts:

For You, for Them, in Manila

Manila concert poster final








and Break the Crystal Frame, in Cebu, as well as a conference on The Word Made Song: Music in Evangelization

mlh poster










Prayer welcomed as I seek to know and learn from cultures that are totally new to me…

The Incarnation: God’s “I trust you”

December 25, 2014
Maeve Heaney

Painting called Mary and Child, by friend and artist, Trung Pham SJ

Painting called Mary and Child, by friend and artist, Trung Pham SJ

I don’t like Christmas carols.

Sorry! I never have. Or at least they do not move me as other music does.

However, this morning I found myself in tears as I sang Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the members of a packed church in Singapore.

Why? Probably many reasons, not least of which being the sense of a universal Church all believing the same: the man-God who split history in two whose life IS the ground we walk on. Forever.

But I also find myself thinking these days about the way as much as the fact of how God entered history. This morning’s readings held me at this point:

Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.

Something had taken place. They go to find out. And what they see is a child. And a poor one, at that.

So what does poverty, weakness, vulnerability, defencelessness say to us, about humanity? Or even about God?

I think it says “I trust you”. When parents give you their children to mind, that’s what it means – the ultimate trust, I feel.

So God not only wants to save us, but also trusts us.

Those I have taught will remember my favourite interpretation of original sin (thank you, Sequeri!) is that of distrust. The first ‘sin’ of our race was not pride – pride’s a mechanism of defence – it was distrust: “What was God hiding? What did God not want us to know? What do we need to steal that we have not been given?” Any pride or deceit that follows is merely a consequence…

And so the way God saves us is not only taking the risk of sending his Son, but trusting us with that life. I think that’s why I hate it when we forget that Jesus came, not only to die for us, but also to show us how to live! He trusted that we would get it. And if God trusts us, then we are trustworthy. Despite everything. Or rather through everything (Rm 8:28-29). The last word over our lives is that we can hear and discern the voice of God. The ultimate rule of discernment and accompaniment, for those of us to whom God entrusts that path, is that people are trustworthy. And if they can get to hear their own voice, which is, at depth, not that different from God’s own, they will know what is right, and true, and holy. They will recognise. “My sheep know my voice”, because “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.”

So on this day, I am grateful to all those who have trusted in me, and therefore been a presence of God’s voice for me – those who have accompanied me, and those who have wanted me to walk alongside their own quests.

My deepest prayer today is that we would learn to walk with care, that God’s silence in a child would “quieten the noise in our mind…” and allow us listen for the only truth that truly “discovers” and saves us. That’s what my one and only “Christmas Carol” tries to say – and I will do an Australian version anon – from North Star to Southern Cross, but for the mo’: Worship Unplugged, played and recorded with my ‘little’ brother in Dublin.


The Power of Gentleness

December 19, 2014
Maeve Heaney

blank pages

the morgueLately I feel drawn to blank pages and dark empty spaces…places where I can breathe, and hear, and sense, without much noise. And I know God indwells all things, and I have often sensed Jesus presence in the midst of ministry and service with little sleep, but right now it is the whisper that echoes with more strength within me (1 Kings 19:12), and I thirst for it.

What is it about gentleness? What is it about a quiet word, or presence that does not impose and yet opens doors, simple everyday ones, or others which have been under lock and key for years? Because that’s often how I experience God in prayer – truthful, but in a way that seems to reveal what I never realized I knew… or could have known as it simply makes sense.

I have spent a week meandering in and around these thoughts… and two things have emerged with quite a lot of strength:

  • Firstly, that there is an ocean of powerful attentiveness in God’s love for us, with all the depth, width, height and power of that immensity. God is more attentive than any human person could be to every small desire of our hearts. I prayed with strength last week for a situation that worried me. And yesterday I sensed Him say: “You asked. I heard you”, as if surprised that I was relieved it had been resolved. Did I doubt it? Did I think it was too small, or insignificant for God to notice? But there is no ‘too small’, when you love. Every detail, everything that someone you care for wants becomes nearly like a demand, if at all possible to make happen. Is God going to love any less attentively? No movement of our hearts goes unnoticed.
  • The second’s an intuition: could we  be ‘gatekeepers’ of God’s voice for others? When I see a person who can pray, who can taste God’s presence, I find it thrilling. Is this why? Is that what the prophet part of our Baptismal identity means? People have a need for that inner door to God’s presence to be opened, unlocked. And perhaps part of the gift of prayer is to be called to mediate, to echo, to be a human ‘voice that cries’ or speaks, or at least evokes the whisper of God’s passionate love for us waits, patiently, to say. Scary but wonderful, if true…  blessed are the gentle.

Pray Theologically

December 5, 2014
Maeve Heaney

Photo arranged and edited by Carmine di Stefano

Photo arranged and edited by Carmine di Stefano

This is  a short one, and I don’t usually simply re-post, but this is simply worth it. It is the message of the Pope to the International Theological Commission on December 5th. I guess it is good to simply note that what is said in such a short message is important by its very mention.

Key words/ themes I would identify?  Listen; signs of the times; a greater presence of women theologians; unity- healthy pluralism, sensus fidei, and maybe the best one at the end, (and take note, theology students!): pray theologically.

One way of doing it: Woman of God.