Editor's note: This has been updated from the print version.
The prayer to end abortion, as specific as that is, is going to be answered by each person’s Yes to the dignity of the human person, and that happens by how we treat each person from the moment of their conception to the moment of their death," says singer/songwriter Danielle Rose, whose new album, Culture of Life, is a collection of musical meditations on pro-life and other interconnected issues of human dignity.
Like her first four albums, the new CD represents another marker on the 33-year-old Duluth, Minn., native’s spiritual and vocational journey through Mother Teresa’s India, a Franciscan convent, a Chinese orphanage for abandoned babies with special needs and now her recent marriage.
Born into a musical family, Rose grew up playing violin and later played in an alternative-rock band. Her love for the Lord deepened when she was 16, during prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at a youth conference.
"The grace overwhelmed the doubts, and I just knew he was real, and I couldn’t deny it," she recalls. She remembers thinking, "That means that it has to define everything else in my life in a very real way."
A year later, Rose convinced her parents to let her go to India, where she volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. She was struck by Mother Teresa’s statement that the United States is poorer than India because it doesn’t know God. It was then that Rose heard a call to be a missionary through her gift of music.
"I knew in my heart I wanted to be a missionary to help serve the poorest of the poor like she did, but I felt like God wanted me to do that with music — to be able to reach and minister to souls here with spiritual poverty."
Each of her albums, including one on the Rosary mysteries and another on Mother Teresa’s teachings, reflect her deep love for Christ.
Her fourth album, Pursue Me, was recorded before she spent two years with the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, a contemplative charismatic Franciscan order in Prayer Town, Texas, before ultimately discerning she was not called to religious life.
While in the convent, Rose heard Chinese missionaries tell about their lives and the country’s one-child policy. "When I began to hear these things, it moved me very deeply," Rose says. "I thought that perhaps I was just going to be interceding for China for the rest of my life in the convent, but then God’s will became clear that he wasn’t calling me to make vows — he was calling me back into the laity."
She was especially drawn to the work of a Beijing organization that helps abandoned children.
Bringing these and other experiences about the reality of the "culture of death" to Eucharistic adoration, she let the Lord give her the words for her songs. "When there’s a truth that I know God wants to be communicated in a song, it’s always much too big, and I have no idea how it’s going to happen — because it’s just these truths and these topics that are so vast and so deep," she said. "Only God can make it possible to summarize in a few minutes."
When the lyrics and music came together, Rose recorded much of the album in adoration chapels in Los Angeles, where she now lives.
The result is a set of powerful and mostly positive songs about motherhood, chastity, contraception, adoption, post-abortive healing, the redemptive value of suffering, the universal call to holiness, the unrepeatable nature of each soul and euthanasia.
She knows she is paving new ground: "It’s not the norm to talk about these kinds of things for a whole album. They are so related to each other that there has to be a catechesis for all those things to bring about an end to abortion."
"Our hearts are changed by the good and by something better," she adds.
"My prayer for these songs and for the album is that it will particularly minister to the people who don’t necessarily know that they’re part of a pro-life movement — and that the music will end up in the hearts and lives of people who wouldn’t otherwise just go out and get a pro-life album."
Rose sells the album on her website (DanielleRose.com) and gives away a copy to a pro-life organization for each one she sells.
Since getting married last April, Rose hopes her ministry will flow from her marriage and ultimately bring more people to God. "I would pray that the more deeply that I’m learning to love and be loved in marriage it will be able to draw other people to encounter the love of God for them."
For Rose, the Roe v. Wade anniversary marks the horror of abortion, as well as a time of hope, because young people are recognizing that God’s love is stronger than death.
"The truth that there’s a better way — that abortion is not the answer — is becoming more self-evident, I think, from many, many angles in our culture, not only for people evangelizing the Gospel and the gospel of life and the culture of life, but even just the very cries of the wounded people who are speaking their own testimonies even on a secular level."
As she matures as an artist, Rose hopes she sees the significance of every small and hidden thing that’s done for God.
And she is encouraged by how Christ is working through souls in all those actions to build the culture of life.
"I think there’s a tidal wave of grace, really, and it’s just flooding over people’s lives," she said. "The Truth, who is Jesus, cannot be defeated. It’s powerful, and I think the Church is so alive, and there’s so much at work, so many souls responding to the Holy Spirit and the New Evangelization. They are each in their own way using their gifts to the glory of God in this regard. And I know it’s making a difference — not only saving lives, but also healing and changing lives and, ultimately, bringing people to Jesus, the source of all life."
Susan Klemond writes from
St. Paul, Minnesota.