“He who sings prays twice,” St. Augustine said and I’ve often found that music draws me closer to God. In times of spiritual dryness, faith-filled music pulled me back to God. In times of fear and worry, music has helped me put my trust and hope in God. When I’ve stood in awe of God and His mighty works, music has given me a way to express my praise for him. And Father Maximilian Mary Dean’s CD Forgive has a great selection of faith-inspired music for every occasion.
I received this CD for review from Father Maximilian; all opinions expressed remain my own.
About the Album
I first discovered Father Maximilian’s music on Instagram. I enjoyed his short clips there so much that I was delighted to get a copy of his CD, Forgive. Father Maximilian wrote the music and lyrics for nine of the songs on this album and collaborated with various musicians to produce them. Forgive also includes the “Salve Regina,” a classic Latin hymn about Mary.
Each of the songs has a depth of music that amazed me. Instruments like the hammered dulcimer, saxophone, banjo, fiddle and keyboard back up the lyrics. “Serve the Lord” has an almost country feel, with a very bouncy beat that makes you want to get up and do something (it’s probably my favourite song). “In that Bible of Mercy” is slightly slower, with more of a story to the lyrics. “His Love Endures Forever” is based upon Psalm 135.
I’ve listened to this album quite a bit in my truck while driving the kids to their activities, or in the house while I’m doing dishes or cleaning. I like the upbeat music and the variety of instruments in each song. Father Maximilian’s wide experience with music really comes out in the variety of songs on this CD. And my kids (who are pretty harsh music critics!) really liked the CD too. On his website, Father Maximilian describes this album as “More great vintage vibe music to keep you encouraged and focused in your spiritual journey.”
The title song “Forgive” opens with a trill of keyboard notes, a solid drum beat, and then a saxophone solo. The lyrics are a reflection on Gospel teachings on forgiveness: “Lord, how many times must I forgive my neighbor?” A sax solo in the middle of the song gives time for reflection and prayer. The chorus reminds us, “Unless you forgive your brother from your heart, how can my father forgive you? You do your part.”
About Father Maximilian Mary Dean
Father Maximilian Mary Dean came from a very musical family. He began learning piano at age 9 and guitar at age 10. In high school, he began giving live performances and also experimenting with studio recording. While he mostly played guitar, he also learned various other instruments by playing in different bands. He went to college with a scholarship as a classical guitar performance major at DePaul University in Chicago. He’d often be at a local pub playing blues music on their open mic nights.
During this time, Father Maximilian had a major conversion. He transferred to the Franciscan University of Steubenville where he received a degree in Philosophy in 1991. He says, “With the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal from 1992-1995 and throughout my time with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from 1995-2017 I was always leading music—primarily as a singer, but also accompanying with guitar or organ depending on the context.”
During his time as a Fransiscan of the Immaculate, he recorded his first album, Christmas Vigil with St. Francis of Assisi. EWTN aired this album on Christmas Eve for many years. Father Maximilian recorded several more albums and gave over a hundred concerts, then released one last album and became a diocesan hermit in Pennsylvania. He thought his music and recording days were over, but God had other plans.
As a hermit, he began receiving new songs. He often woke up with a complete song in his head. He says, “With time and through prayer I realized that I was being called to record again – but this time from the silence and solitude of the Hermitage and using more contemporary instrumentation.” And so he began using gifts that he had developed before his conversion and then put aside for a time to focus on his preparation for the religious life.
..clearly there is sacred music—suitable for the Liturgy—and that is one of the primary reasons I have always been attracted to the traditional Latin Mass… But there is also a place, even a need, for non-liturgical music. For example, at a summer camp gathered around an evening fire there is certainly a place for a guitar, tambourine and some festive hand-clapping—songs of praise. In the car when mom is driving her son or daughter to a distant soccer tournament, 2 hours of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony might not be the most suitable music for the occasion—there is, even among the hermits and desert Fathers, a need for holy eutrapalia.
Father Maximilian is inspired by the work of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori (a great moral theologian, Bishop, Founder, preacher, author and Doctor of the Church who was also a gifted musician) and Father Antonio Vivaldi (now a well-known classical composer who was also a Catholic priest). He adds, “My humble prayer: that my music will lead souls to glorify God with heart and mind and assist them in their spiritual journey.”
Listen to Father Maximilian’s Music
Father Maximilian’s music is available on his website as well as on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Music.