May 1, 2013: My Voice is God’s

~ by Mary Galvano

Often, after the passing of my father, I had nightmares of him being upset at me. I would wake up very distressed because something I was doing, or not doing, was causing him to be this way. These dreams were very real to me and they disturbed me.

A year later after Dad’s passing, a special priest from St. Francis Xavier, Father Stan Periog, asked me to go on a trip to Poland and Prague for the Eucharistic Congress where the late Pope John Paul II would be visiting. He thought it would be great if I came along and sang. “No thank you.” I told him. There was no way I was going to Poland with a bunch of church people to sing on a tour bus. I was only 23 years old! Life was too busy and I had my own agenda to attend. Mom wanted me to go with her as well. I was fighting this trip from all ends. I didn’t know how to get out of it and not feel guilty.

One morning while getting ready for work, I was yearning to myself how much I wanted to sing more. Nothing was really happening with my career of music. I looked in the mirror and abruptly said, “Fine God! I’ll go on this trip to Poland, just get me singing. There I did it. You can take over!” My “yes” to God as any “yes” to God would be no regret.

Soon I would learn that when I was asked to sing on this trip, it wouldn’t be for the bus. I mean, I knew I would help out with some singing at Masses, but I wasn’t prepared to what height and what miracles were about to happen in my life. Nor was I prepared at how God would use me. It was blind faith. He was about to show me how magnificent His ways are, better than anything I could produce. He would once again in an awesome way tell me to put Him first. Nothing else could come my way until I did just that. The high of Holy Spirit was irreplaceable to anything else. Put Him first and all things will be added unto you. Before I could have any success as a singer or any work for that matter, He must come first. I needed to know the true purpose of my voice, why I was given a voice to begin with. It was God given and I should always keep that in mind.

Our pilgrimage group arrived in Warszawa, Poland where we had our first Mass at St. John’s Cathedral. It was a beautiful church as all churches in Poland are unbelievable. In Poland, the devotion that is there for our Catholic Church is amazing. The suffering that the people of Poland went through was horrific, yet they still have great spirituality and great faith.

Father Stan came over and said are you ready to sing the Mass? “What?” I thought. I didn’t know I would be leading in singing the Mass from the pulpit, and a cappella! All the Masses would be sung a cappella throughout our trip. I thought I would be with the people in the pews singing from the missalette I brought along. This was the plan. My nerves shot right through me. Somehow, I quickly put something together and I sang right next to the altar with the priests. There weren’t a whole lot of people so it turned out not to be a big deal. That evening, though, I hurried to prepare for the next day’s Mass. I didn’t want to be thrown another curve ball.

We soon traveled to Czestochowa to have Mass at the Jasna Gora Monastery and Shrine of the Black Madonna. John Paul II said, “Jasna Gora is the shrine of the nation. One has to come to this Holy Place to feel the heartbeat of the nation within the heart of its Mother.” There were thousands of people there. In fact, four to five million pilgrims visit the site every year. The lector and I were in the sanctuary of the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa ready to begin Mass when all of a sudden the trumpet starts blasting and everyone fell to their knees. Then as we looked up the diamond robe that covered the miraculous icon of the Madonna and Child of Jasna Gora started to go up and unveil the painting of the Black Madonna. Both the lector and I grabbed hands and started to tear up. My heart was pounding and I was trembling. A miracle took place right then within me. I said to myself, “Now I understand, God. I understand.” Nothing could replace this. Nothing is more important than singing for Him. How can I sing for anything else? Nothing can compare. My voice became truly His, it was transformed and so was I. And boy, the things He can make happen in your life when you surrender to Him.

As I got up to sing I looked out to a sea of people, wondering, “Why me? Why did you pick me? I am just a simple girl with so much error.” It was the month of May and the month of Mary so at I sang the “Ave Maria” and how fitting to sing it in Our Lady’s shrine.

Everyday was another amazing cathedral, shrine or church with each one having a special place in our journey to Poland and Prague. Each day we as a group had many miracles happen such as conversions, healings, and phenomena. On the day of Corpus Christi, during a huge procession, a miracle happened. Right when the Eucharist was exposed, which was huge, a bright and colorful rainbow formed perfectly around the sun. Other people saw different things, but the same over all description. It was beautiful! Back in 1985 at another Corpus Christi procession at the same place the same thing happened.

Towards the end of our pilgrimage to Poland we had more groups join our group. At Mass at Trzebnica Basilica in Wroclaw one of the American bishops, Bishop Reilly, co-celebrated the Mass. Afterwards at the convent there, our group along with others and the Bishop, had a dinner celebration served by nuns for Bishop Reilly’s anniversary. He requested I sing ‘Danny Boy’. I had never sung ‘Danny Boy’ before! Luckily, there was a lady that knew it and she taught me the words out in the hall and within five minutes I walked in and sang it. Oh boy, talk about nerves! After singing, I was asked by the bishop to sing for the American Delegation Mass in Wroclaw the next day when Pope John Paul II would visit town. One of the requests was the ‘Ave Maria’. I had no idea what was in store, but I knew this was a big deal.

That night I had a dream of my father. I was in this very bright, illuminated white room with a long hallway. It was a peaceful place. From the other end of the hall I saw walking towards me my father. I started towards him as well. He had his burgundy cardigan on and with a big smile he stretched out his arms and with a chuckle in his voice said, “Mary, I am so proud of you!” We then hugged. Immediately, I woke up and woke up my mother to tell her what just happened and that Dad was happy. He was very happy indeed! This is a message telling me that I am doing what I need to be doing. I had peace and joy. I was doing God’s work.

It was a very cold and rainy morning for the American Delegation Mass and our group was running late. We were a ways away from St. John the Baptist Cathedral where Mass would be. We finally made it and Mass was beginning. At first, because there were so many people, the security was reluctant to let my mother and I through to get to where I needed to be. I thought I was going to be off to the side or in a choir loft but no, not at all. Instead, I would be smack dab in the middle of the cathedral in the sanctuary behind the altar surrounded by over hundreds of cardinals, bishops, monsignors, and priests. There were people from all over and I am sure there were other singers who could have been up there instead, but there was little me singing away. I was in awe and humbled for the magnitude of this journey in my life. I felt Jesus closer to me than ever, using me for His glory.

After Mass a few of us including Mom had the honor of having lunch with the celebrants in an enclosed area while waiting for the Pope’s arrival in his Pope-mobile. I had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful clergy. One Monsignor came up to me out of the blue and asked me, “You are very spiritual aren’t you?” “Yes.” I answered. “I try to be.” “I want to warn you,” he said. “Expect to be hurt because of this. With great spirituality comes great vulnerability. Your heart is open and can be hurt more than others.” I will never forget these words.

When I got back from the trip, my singing was transformed. It was an intimate love affair with God every time. I felt His presence within my voice as though we were speaking a secret conversation. My thoughts were not on singing to sound good for people anymore, I really didn’t care. I wasn’t worried if I made mistakes. There was a bigger opinion in which I was concerned, God’s. My voice is His and His alone. In my eyes I wasn’t a great singer but God can make things great. I didn’t feel as though I had the most magnificent set of pipes on the planet but the messages that came out of my mouth came out in a different way. Dad always said, “You have to sell the song. It doesn’t matter how good you sing, if you don’t sell the song.” Well, God is a master at selling a song. I had no control over my voice anymore. God continues to surprise me in my life. He must always come first no matter what.

I remember looking up at the sky while at my place of work and having this feeling that nothing on this earth seemed to matter so much anymore. I could close my eyes and go back to Poland and the little glimpse of heaven I had there. When things go wrong I remember how heaven is real because I felt a part of it within me and I wouldn’t worry. All else would pass. There is a greater place, a place much bigger than anything we have here on this planet. There is a bigger picture! God is all there is.

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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