Arts & Entertainment
The Saskatchewanian and the Successor
BY Joseph Pronechen
July 20-26, 2008 Issue | Posted 7/15/08 at 1:02 PM
Canadian singer-songwriter and Catholic evangelist Mark Mallett wrote his first song when he was 9 years old. Much has transpired between then and his recent invitation to sing for Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican for the 25th Anniversary of the John Paul II Foundation.
In May, TopCatholicSongs.com ranked two of Mallett’s works in the top 10 Marian songs: “Ode to Mary” and, at No. 1, “Queen of Heaven.” In the last seven years, Mallett has toured extensively throughout North America, giving missions and concerts at parishes and schools.
At home in Saskatchewan with his wife, Lea, and their seven children (they’re expecting their eighth), Mallett spoke about his music and ministry with Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen.
How did you come to write “Song for Karol,” your tribute to John Paul II that you sang at the Vatican?
The day John Paul II died, I went before the Blessed Sacrament, weeping and thanking God for the gift of his life. When I got up to leave, this melody was suddenly on my tongue. It had a European flavor to it. Then his birth name, Karol Wojtyla, popped into my head. It perfectly fit the melody. I asked, “Lord, are you prompting me to write a song?” I went back to the church that night and, sitting on the floor between the Blessed Sacrament and Mary’s statue, I wrote “Song For Karol.”
The invitation to sing it at the Vatican was a surprise. Were there others?
I had been praying to St. Pio for the grace to lay my ministry at the feet of the Holy Father. I felt deep within my soul that I needed to do this. But the chances of meeting the Holy Father were next to none, according to Vatican staff I spoke with.
The day after the concert, I was with 300 others in a papal hall for a “private” audience. I wound up sitting at the very back. However, the priest who had organized the concert approached me and said, “Come with me!” And suddenly, there I was sitting three rows away from the Holy Father. At the end of his speech, to our surprise, Pope Benedict began personally receiving each person seated in the first three rows. When it was my turn, I kissed his ring, held out my CDs to him with “Song for Karol” on top, and said, “I am an evangelist from Canada, and I am happy to serve you.”
With that, St. Pio answered my prayers, and I laid my ministry at St. Peter’s feet.
John Paul II surely influenced your Eucharistic worship CD “Let the Lord Know” for the Year of the Eucharist, and your CD “Through Her Eyes: A Journey to Jesus” for the Year of the Rosary. Are you doing anything more for the New Evangelization?
Early in my ministry I heard in my heart, “Music is a doorway to evangelize.” A large part of my ministry is restating what has been said by the Holy Fathers, particularly John Paul II and Benedict. I will do this, in my own way, in between songs at my concerts. They are the chief prophets in the Church today and have been powerfully preparing us for the dramatic times that we are now facing. I feel a tremendous closeness to John Paul II still, and continue to preach his central message, “Do not be afraid!”
Why the emphasis on evangelization?
You don’t have to be a prophet or a mystic to see that there’s an extraordinary battle between the culture of life and the culture of death, between the Church and the world. I’m helping Catholics understand the “signs of the times” in the light and wisdom of the early Church Fathers, the modern popes, the Catechism, and prophetic words of many mystics, saints and approved apparitions of Our Lady. The central message is “Prepare!” According to St. Faustina, we are presently living in a “time of mercy” before a coming time of justice. So we must be vigilant, our “lamps full.”
If my preaching message is about preparing for our times, the music message is living that preparation. My music is to help souls “open wide their hearts to Jesus,” to enter more and more into a personal relationship with Jesus. Trusting in his mercy and love is the core of my songwriting.
What inspires you?
Creation, the Holy Father, and my wife and my children. They’re all visible signs of God’s presence. I marvel at the beauty of my family, the gift of life that surrounds me each day, from my baby’s face to the evening sunset.
I find inspiration in prayer, particularly before the holy Eucharist in daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration. I am often amazed at the great graces and teachings that come to me during the meditation of the Rosary. Truly, it is “the school of Mary.”
Tell me about your ‘family-centered’ songs.
One called “Family Beads” is based on a true story about the passage of the Rosary devotion through the generations. Other songs speak of forgiveness and commitment.
We pray the Rosary as a family. There is often a tangible peace that fills our home after these times of prayer. In the Rosary, we are contemplating the Gospel, contemplating the face of Christ. And when we do this, St. Paul says “we are transformed from glory to glory.”
The graces of the holy Eucharist and Rosary are essential for persevering through our times. The woman of Genesis crushes the head of the serpent, and Mary is the “new Eve.” It only makes sense, then, that we draw close to this woman, who is our mother. She, in turn, brings us more deeply into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She’s all about Jesus.
Why have you added a blog to your ministry?
I felt a burning in my heart to speak the Word like the prophet Jeremiah once felt. The Holy Father has encouraged us to use the media and other new technologies in the New Evangelization. Writing on the Internet has been very effective. There have been over a million hits to my blog in just a couple of years.
I’ll keep writing as long as I have a word to say (or sing).
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen
writes from Trumbull, Connecticut.
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