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.

IMG_20150114_090855625     IMG_20150113_092859230   IMG_20150114_090859216

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...

The Smell of Green Grass

October 22, 2017
Maeve Heaney

Yesterday I learned a new skill: grass trimming! I not only got the lawn mowed and looking great, but felt accomplished and pleased with myself for this important new learning curve :)! It is the little things in life. I love the order. Whoever has seen my office and home in its more disarrayed state would never guess. But I have always liked order in the in-between moments of my sometimes way-too-busy schedule. Between each chapter of the book, after each important deadline reached, I rearrange my room, my kitchen, the wardrobe – whatever feels most in need or is most crowding my mind.

It allows me see things differently.

So the view out of my window is a deep green, neat lawn.


However, it is the smell of freshly cut grass that most holds me. I have always loved that smell! One more thing that has brought my mind homeward these past days…

It has been a while since my Irish melancholy raised its head. And I don’t mind. Actually I think it’s healthy, and allows me see the stuff, and people and work I do here from the conscious, real perspective of who I am, and where I’ve come from. It gives certain depth to my missionary existence, allowing past options and experiences shine their light on present concerns, even birthing new hopes.

The other catalyst for my Irish memory was a spirituality day I gave for two schools on the Gold Coast – St Kevin’s and St Brigid’s – on Celtic spirituality: a very blessed day, not least because of their openness and thirst for understanding but also because it allowed me re-explore the foundations of who I am and how I understand things: the world of meaning that gave birth to me!




           (Letters M and H of the Book of Kells)      

Why I wear a celtic cross… Why I love running water and stone

            And strong, gentle women (St Brigid at the Irish college in Rome)                                     

And men St Kevin


                      And why The Deer's Cry is still one of my favourite prayers and songs. It is the groundedness of all things that stays with me… the beauty of every small, particular thing. And that God’s touching us is always in and through matter, the world, each other – through which we are called ever deeper into the One in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Achainím ort tríd an uisce Is tríd an aer glan anfach. Achainím ort tríd an tine, Achainím ort tríd an talamh. From Seán Ó Duinn, “Some dimensions of Early Irish Piety”, Anáil Dé, 90.   I beseech you [O God] through water And through the pure stormy air, I beseech you through fire I beseech you through earth…   Breathing in again the unique smell of freshly cut grass!

The Little Things in life

July 30, 2017
Maeve Heaney

The little things I had the foot massage of a lifetime this week – life saving between flights, when for some reason I got off a 4 ½ hour flight with unbelievably swollen ankles and legs, with only 2 hours before another flight, this time of 8 hours. So I did what I have never done before and went to one of those airport massage zones, and asked for a 20 or 30 minute foot massage, of some sort… This gentle Malaysian woman called May took one look at my legs and with her broken English advised that I should let her work for an hour, rather than the half hour I had booked. So with a “no pain, no gain” comment I made and she repeated with a smile when I flinched, she systematically worked out some of the knots and fluid I had accumulated, until with a sigh of relief I left that space more human than I had felt for a while, and ready for a flight I was dreading. My sense of gratitude lasted for hours. It made me think about, and pray, for this woman’s life and expertise… her awareness of how the human body works; her quiet, attentive dedication to the well being of another woman, whom she will most likely never meet again. One life, normal or inconspicuous, for the most part, as are all our lives, which touched mine. And invited me to more humanity, I think. IMG_20170722_085341_resized_20170729_113038503 Other women that blessed me this week were the amazing women at the  International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology [INSeCT] at Bangalore. In truth, the whole group was really lovely... another day's post! ....................................................................... INSeCT Network Council Meeting_Bangalore 22 July 2017         I am praying for heightened awareness, for the capacity to live in the present moment with those who are around me in the now happenings and mishaps I race through or try to jump over. So often my drive has me looking forward – for good reasons – but I lose the simple beauty of shared humanity, in this wonderful but wonky world we live in. I think I miss so much by not having time for and listening to what God gives us generously and freely through those around us… “Indeed you love truth in the heart…in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom” Ps 51.

Si Dios quiere…

June 28, 2017
Maeve Heaney

IMG_6404 (1)

Today, in Spain, the funeral of the most influential person in my spirituality and vocation took place: Jaime Bonet Bonet, the founder of the Verbum Dei Community; which I belong to since 1984

He had been unwell, on and off, for a while, so in one way it was no surprise. And There are a lot of tributes for his life, such as this one: Video on the occasion of the death of Jaime Bonet  And I find myself reflecting on just how much this one person, with his gifts and shadows, like each and every one of us, has affected the lives of so many.     Along with the founding generation of strong “Mallorquina” women, this man received, accepted and transmitted a particular way of accessing the experience of God’s love; and a particular way of opening  space, enabling, teaching, he would say, others how to know God, how to pray. It has touched so many, including me. For that I am deeply grateful. My memory is working overtime – to all the encounters and exhortations; the conversations and confessions, the moments of inspiration and envisioning, when I agreed, or disagreed, or threw myself into something, eyes wide closed, because I trusted him so implicitly. Trinity Right now I find myself catching echoes of his voice, his way of seeing things, in how I teach and work: lights I thought “my special own”. I had forgotten that most of how I experience God was mediated through his own life and faith:

a loving Triune God who dwells within

a suffering crucified God in whom we dwell

Tengo Sed Christ

the unparalleled intimacy of a God-made-bread, and that Woman of God who lets us in the back door.  Again. To the grace of God's mercy.

JEsus neets his mother

      memorare_0000_01   As I reflect, I have found myself talking to you, Jaime, so I guess we needed to talk. And I shall say three things (which I know you hear with the same certitude you taught us to have as we converse with God simply and truthfully).     Thank you. I am deeply grateful. For the way you dialogued with God, for the vision you had about women, and men, in the church; for the passion I caught from you, and the way we both knew that I “got” this charism, which always was your most treasured child. I'm sorry...for not being closer -  as fiercely independent as you were, perhaps - and for judging you harshly, at times, in my relentless quest to move forward. But I hope you know I learnt the lesson well: “todo para la mayor eficacia en la misión” (everything towards the greater efficacy in the mission). And pray for us and with us, now that you are closer to the Source, that we may become what we were meant to be. That this small, amazingly rich charism and community may bear the fruit you felt it should, and could.

Si Dios quiere…

English Community meet Jaime in Siete Aguas

English Community meet Jaime in Siete Aguas

Song Unfinished

February 7, 2016
Maeve Heaney

IMG_20140901_140657 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

IMG_20151108_085918328             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.
IMG_20150627_085845262 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. IMG_20150706_143038283       And I thankful also of those of you who have recognised this and shared in it, in some way. IMG_0020 photo (2)       IMG_20150705_135039774           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

IMG_20150407_191805101   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, IMG_20150407_191857214_HDR   IMG_20150408_125800822         IMG_20150412_173615006_HDR     and by the collaboration of colleagues one meets “again for the first time”... IMG_20150410_174649649 This morning, as I walked and prayed under a glorious sun and without Queensland humidity 🙂 IMG_20150411_105026402   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). IMG_20150412_113516465

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: 1658340_10152784941792675_1283548429343921253_o   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               10978518_10152491462710876_6698422708177293766_n     Kim   10394463_879198165475581_2721905058885830912_n     Jay Anne                           Including those who stole the show...10982838_10152784916512675_8700974980887365811_o Some seriously organised organizers: Cheers!   Bong   Organisers                 and fellow music-makers, reflecting on what it means to be Christian composers and musicians (as opposed to musicians who are also Christians): conference   IMG_20150206_155943113                   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...