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Reflections on Love

March 30, 2011

This picture is hard for me to contemplate, but not as hard as it used to be.  What follows below is the answer to a question I once posed to the Lord when doing the 8-day silent Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.  We were supposed to be meditating on the Passion, but I just couldn't stay with it.  I asked, "Lord, WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?"  This is what I heard in the depths of my heart.  I hope it speaks to your heart, as well.

August 23, 2003, 6:45 p.m.

"My little lamb, the purpose of you meditating on my Passion is not to instill guilt in you.  It is for you to understand what lengths I was willing to go for love of you.  You've heard this many times before, but you've never fully grasped it.  The cross should first of all instill joy in you, because that is how much I love you!  No sacrifice was too great for me to have the possibility of having you with me forever in heaven.
 
"Once you grasp that love, once you really know me and know what I'm all about, then you might be led to compunction of heart.  But you were trying to go from guilt to love, and the heart just doesn't work that way.  So doing your examination of conscience, going to confession -- it's always been a stumbling block for you because you were experiencing the shame of your sins without the foundation of my love to sustain you.

 
"You need to know that I would never do anything to hurt you.  I may allow you to experience the pain of the lance so that the deeper sickness and pain can be cured, and sometimes others may hurt you, but I always long to console you and to hold you close to my heart.  I never will the actual pain.  In allowing Lazarus to die I wasn't indifferent to his suffering and to the suffering of his family.  It broke my heart!  How much I wanted to heal him!  But I knew that his death was necessary for them to know the redemptive power I offer and for many, many souls to be saved.  Knowing what they know now, Lazarus would have died 1,000 deaths for the consolation he has in heaven over the fruit borne from that sacrifice.
 
"You will not always understand the suffering in your life, but know that I will never leave you, forsake you, or trick you.  You are my beloved.  The cross is simply a reminder of my love, which will follow you wherever you go, whatever you do.  My love is real, it's personal, it's passionate, and it's forever."

HOLY HOUR CONCERT

March 30, 2011

Thanks so all who came out for the Holy Hour Concert on April 18, 2011 at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Mandeville, LA.  Who would have imagined that we would have SRO on a Monday night?!  I look forward to doing more of these during Lent, as the music and meditations are having a powerful impact on people.

 

Thorn in the Flesh

March 29, 2011

FAITHWALK, JULY 2005, by Carl W. Cleveland
"An Ominous but Reassuring Scripture Passage"

Just before my federal court trial was set to begin in 1997, I attended my daughter’s graduation from Franciscan University with a master’s degree in theology. At a post-graduation lunch I was approached by an old and faith-filled friend to pray about my upcoming ordeal.  She said that a relatively obscure bible passage had come to mind, and she felt constrained to share it with me.  The passage was 2 Cor. 12, 1-10.

I was at first mystified about the relevance of this passage to my life.  It spoke passionately of St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” that tormented him and caused him to question how a loving and merciful God could let this suffering come to him.  The passage goes on to give Paul’s explanation that he learned through many difficult experiences:  It is in our suffering that God is glorified, and we experience God in palpably real ways.  If we persevere in faith, we eventually triumph, and during our struggles, God is always close at hand.  He showers us with the graces necessary to muddle through and sends his inexplicable peace to us as we struggle.

I have had a similar learning curve to St. Paul’s.  This passage was profoundly prophetic of my personal ordeal.  My thorn in the flesh was to be prosecuted and convicted wrongly of nonexistent federal crimes. My life was totally shattered in every way.  I didn’t know how my wife and children would survive on a day-to-day basis, and I was sentenced to over ten years in prison.

After the passage from Corinthians was first given to me I read and reread it many times searching for reassurance.  I had no clue to its meaning at first, but it kept reappearing.  It was the reading at Mass on the day my trial started. A long-time priest friend sent the passage to me in the first letter I received in prison, when I was in total despair.  Over time, I began to understand that I was called to surrender my life and ambitions totally to God and to accept in faith that my ordeal would serve a greater good.

Instantly upon my surrender, an overwhelming sense of peace enwrapped me and never left during two and a half years of daily hell in prison. Paul’s experience led me to understand that our greatest power as human beings comes during our times of greatest suffering and powerlessness to control our own lives.  But that’s not all.  Eventually, great joy returns to the lives of the faithful.

As you may know, the United States Supreme Court unanimously reversed my conviction in the record short time of 28 days after the hearing, and they ordered my assets restored.  My first public appearance after my release was at a huge Baptist church in Atlanta that had prayed for my release and wrote to me weekly in prison. As I waited to give my witness to a huge crowd, I went to Mass nearby, and the sermon was on the meaning of 2 Cor. 12: 1-10.  Surely, this was no coincidence.  This special passage promises eventual triumph to those who suffer and abundant graces while the ordeal is ongoing.

I have written at length about these extraordinary experiences many times in the past.  Last week my daughter called to say that on Saturday the scripture readings included the now familiar 2 Cor. 12, 1-10.  This news sent a chill up my spine because I had just learned that morning that my bone cancer, which had been in remission for quite some time, has apparently reappeared in lesions in my ribs and spine.  Based on past experience, I am in for a difficult time.

As I brace myself for more rounds of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, I am confident of several things:  Our loving God will be very close to me in the days ahead.  The consolation of his Holy Spirit will bring me inexplicable peace if I can cheerfully surrender to His will without whining or complaint.  No matter what comes, if I can faithfully do my part, this chapter of my life will end in triumph in one way or another.

I have to admit that at first I was disturbed by the bad news. I feel vibrantly healthy, and my life has been so blessed since my return home from prison and unprecedented survival of my original cancer two years ago.  One thought that ran through my consciousness was that it might be time to give up writing this column.  Then I reconsidered because I may be living lessons that can be of help to others who face death and difficulty, if I can candidly share my journey with you as events unfold.  I will give it my best shot, hoping that my experience can be of help to others.

As St. Paul observed, it is in our powerlessness and suffering that our greatest power is achieved.

Note from Kitty:  On Monday, June 20, 2005 we learned that the cancer has also spread to his hip.  The radiologist has given him 18-36 months to live, assuming aggressive radiation and chemotherapy.  Also, if you are interested in the story of his whole ordeal, it is in the book Amazing Grace for Those Who Suffer, edited by Jeff Cavins and Matt Pinto.  My dad's experience also inspired the song "Surrender" on my first CD.

Follow-up from Kitty: On July 8th, 2006, my dad came home from the hospital to die in Hospice care.  A friend who had just come from the vigil Mass said that the reading made her think of him: 2 Cor. 12: 1-10.  He died 13 days later, July 21, 2006, but only after a couple of amazing miracles.  For the full story, you can order my new CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media, God Will Provide, which includes my 2008 testimony and nine songs. God is so amazing!

Splash

June 25, 2010

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About Kitty

June 25, 2010

Mission Statement

Jazz CD back cover, low res photoMy primary mission as a daughter of God is to faithfully provide for the care and feeding of my husband, Mel, and my daughter, Cecilia. They are my life and my joy!

Second to that is my mission as a lay Catholic evangelist—a calling that has often surprised and delighted me. I give thanks to God for waking me up to his call, and I look forward to the continuing unfolding of this great adventure with Him.

If I had to boil down the essence of what I feel called to do, it is to encourage people—whether through music, storytelling, or teaching from the great Catholic spiritual writers and my own life experience. Tears and laughter from the audience--and me--are not uncommon, and I consider them to be a true gift of the Holy Spirit. These audiences have ranged from women’s prayer breakfasts to leadership groups to family conferences.

My heart burns with a desire to share the riches of our Catholic faith, especially to lapsed or lukewarm Catholics. I submit myself to the teaching authority of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals, and I delight in her guidance.

Favorite topics include:

  • God's Grace Is Enough (similar to my Lighthouse CD, God Will Provide)
  • Mirror, Mirror: Seeing Myself As God Sees Me (for women)
  • Deus Providebit: Trusting in God's Divine Providence
  • Mary at My Door: How to take Mary into your heart and into your home
  • The Habit of Prayer: Making time for God
  • Peace I Leave with You: Receiving the gift that only Christ can give
  • Divine Mercy: A message for our times
  • Life in the Holy Spirit: Fire Within

I also enjoy being given particular topics to research and prepare, as well as being commissioned to write songs from particular quotes or themes.

By virtue of my baptism, I have been called to become an evangelist in a world where despair, godlessness, and violence cry out for a remedy. My job is to rally the troops and encourage them to do join me in this mission to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth, starting in our own hearts, homes, and parishes.

In Christ, our Hope,

Kitty Cleveland

Biography

Kitty Cleveland, a singer/songwriter and inspirational speaker from New Orleans, began her professional career as a lawyer and then as a college professor.  But in an adoration chapel one day in 1998, as she searched for God during a devastating family crisis, she clearly heard the Lord Jesus call her to become a "music missionary."

Kitty heeded the call and has since released 12 CDs of music and prayer, including two CDs with Lighthouse Catholic Media.  Her latest CD, Hail, Holy Queen, was the first of her CD's to climb the secular Billboard chart.  She has appeared numerous times on television, on the radio, in concert, and as a keynote speaker both at home and abroad.

Kitty lives in the New Orleans area with her musician husband and teen daughter, whom they adopted from China in 2005.  In addition to praying with people for healing and encouragement, she enjoys cooking, gardening, oil painting, and is currently working on her first book about her father's unjust imprisonment and dramatic release by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What Others Are Saying

"Kitty's love for the Lord and for her Catholic faith was palpable, and she left us all uplifted and encouraged with her message and music.  I wholeheartedly recommend Kitty Cleveland for your future event."  Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.I, Archbishop of Denver

"Kitty shared her inspiring story and beautiful singing with endearing personality and delightful humor.  Many of the 500 women said afterward that she was their favorite Magnificat speaker of all time--out of 40 speakers! I heartily recommend her for any group."   Kay Burkot, Magnificat of Pittsburgh, PA

"I have the privilege of counting Kitty Cleveland as one of my close friends, and for that I am most grateful. When I listen to her CDs I’m touched by her wellspring of talent, but even more, I’m moved knowing that her music is the result of God interacting with her in the valleys and the mountaintops of her life. She is real, she is deeply spiritual, and she has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard."  Jeff Cavins, Bible scholar and Catholic evangelist

"We are all still floating since your appearance at our Endow Gala! This week I have had more positive calls and emails than I can possibly handle. The humor, warmth, and love that came through in your talk had all 500 people in the room riveted.Terry Polakovic, Endow Co-Founder and Executive Director

Television and Radio Credits

Kitty is well-known to EWTN audiences, having appeared several times as a guest on Life on the Rock with Jeff Cavins, on Backstage, and more recently as a guest of Johnnette Benkovic on Women of Grace during Christmas week.  She also appeared on EWTN live from the National Shrine of Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday, where she shared her family's miracle story.

Kitty has appeared multiple times on Catholic TV of Boston and continues to receive both national and international radio airplay.

Past Engagements

  • Catholic Women's Conferences (CA, GA, IA, LA, MN, MO, MT, PA, SC, TN)
  • Auckland Eucharistic Conference (Auckland, NZ)
  • Fullness of Truth Conference (Tyler, TX)
  • Midwest Family Conference (Wichita, KS)
  • San Francisco Catholic Charismatic Conference (San Francisco, CA)
  • Lighthouse Catholic Media Conference (Mundelein, IL)
  • Legatus dinners (FL, LA, WI)
  • Prayer breakfasts and retreats (CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MO, MS, NC, NJ, OH, PA, SC, TX)
  • Marian conferences (AZ, CA, LA)
  • Keynotes at gala fundraisers (CO, DC, GA, LA, NY)
  • Over 50 prayer concerts in Catholic parishes (throughout North America and in Europe)

Recordings

  • Hail, Holy Queen: Billboard-charting CD devoted to Our Lady of Fatima for the 100th anniversary (2017)
  • Blue Skies: A collection of jazz standards with some of New Orleans' greatest musicians, including Summertime, My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch over Me, and many other well-loved classics (2014).
  • Lighthouse--The Miracle of Divine Mercy: 2013 release by Lighthouse Catholic Media of Kitty's Divine Mercy chaplet with a sample of her Divine Mercy testimony.
  • The Miracle of Life Rosary for Children: Upbeat, life-affirming music and meditations written by Kitty specifically for a young audience, with all of the prayers led by kids.  Kitty’s daughter, Cecilia (age 7), also sings with her to music arranged by Joe Hand (2-CD, 2011).
  • Lighthouse--God Will Provide: 2010 release by Lighthouse Catholic Media includes Kitty’s testimony plus nine songs from her previous collections.
  • Sublime Chant: The Scotland Project: An ambitious recording of 17 Gregorian chants recorded in a 12th-century Scottish cathedral (2008).
  • Be Not Afraid: Best-selling CD with 12 songs of hope and consolation. Winner of Unity Award for “Devotional Album of the Year” (2006)
  • The Miracle of Divine Mercy: Original sung Divine Mercy chaplet with a children’s choir, plus two inspiring songs and Kitty’s Divine Mercy miracle testimony (2004).
  • O Holy Night: Well-loved Christmas songs with a Celtic flair (2003).
  • The Miracle of Love Rosary: International best-seller featuring music and meditations on the sanctity of life, including the Luminous Mysteries. Recorded with Fr. Robert Cavalier (2002).
  • Sacred Arias: Twelve classics with a chamber orchestra.  Final Unity Award® nominee for “Devotional Album of the Year” (2001).
  • Surrender: Collection of popular liturgical songs, plus two originals.  Winner of Unity Award® for “Sacramental Album of the Year” (2000, 2007 remix).

To read what others have had to say about Kitty, please check out the Guestbook. For bookings, please call Connie at (504) 202-6029 or send us an email. (Updated January 2018)

A WORD ABOUT EMBRYO ADOPTION

November 23, 2009

For several years there was debate among orthodox Catholic moral theologians about the morality of embryo adoption.  After much time and prayerful consideration, the Church spoke definitively on the matter in the document Dignitatis Personae, written in 2008 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  It gives moral guidance on the many new medical procedures available to people today, including embryo adoption (which was determined to be illicit).  The full text of the document can be read at the link above.

Many years ago, when it appeared that the Church was going to approve of embryo adoption for married couples, I was advised that it was licit, even heroic, for my husband and me to do so.  We then adopted three frozen embryos from a friend of mine, a young mother of five, who was dying of pancreatic cancer.   Shortly after she died, all three embryos perished in the thaw--on March 30, 2002.  It was a day of great sadness, I can tell you.  That sadness was turned into great joy when on March 30, 2003 (one year to the day!), our daughter Cecilia was born, and we adopted her from China the following year.

So as not to confuse anyone, I have removed from my website the series of articles I wrote about our embryo adoption while it was taking place.There is great freedom to be found in the teaching authority of the Church.  And as one friend put it, "A river without levees is a flood."  As a Katrina survivor, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the levees.

It's not easy to be obedient in the matter of faith and morals when it costs you a great deal, but how beautiful is the gift of our freedom when it is given to God in trusting love.  He will never be outdone in generosity!  Just look at that smile...

RWANDA: IN THE HEART OF AFRICA WITH IMMACULEE

September 7, 2009

In the summer of 2009 I had the great privilege of traveling to Rwanda, where I spent 10 days with Immaculee Ilibagiza (Left to Tell) and a handful of others from around the world.  It was an emotional journey, and I cried every day, to the point that it became a running joke.  "Let's see...it's 10 a.m. and Kitty hasn't cried yet--should be coming soon!" Rwanda is where over one million people were slaughtered in a genocide that lasted for three months in 1994.  It is also the site of the only Vatican-approved Marian appparition on the continent of Africa.

Our time was split between the capital city of Kigali and the small village of Kibeho where Mary appeared to a number of young people in the 1980's.  To tell you about all of our adventures will take hours of typing and editing pictures, so I promise to do that for you when I get a little free time.

For now the easiest way for me to share it is in person with my laptop and a projector.  If you would like to me to share my experiences with your parish or group, as well as provide information about the apparitions in Kibeho, please just give Joe Condit at CMG Booking a call.  I love show and tell, especially about this trip!

UNITY AWARD WINNER

September 12, 2008

On October 25, 2008, I was blessed to sing my homage to Katrina, "Eye of the Storm," at the 9th Annual Unity Awards ceremony, which is the Catholic equivalent of the Grammy Awards.  The Xavier University Gospel Choir provided soulful back-up singing, which was a thrill for me, and the 2007 remix of Surrender was a finalist in a number of categories, winning Album Packaging of the Year.  My husband has been calling me "Miss Shrinkwrap 2008." 🙂

The Unity Awards, being held for the first time in New Orleans, also featured performances by Tony Melendez, John Michael Talbot, Matt Maher, Sara Hart, Kara Klein, Trish Foti Genco, Matthew Baute, Sharmane Adams, local choirs and much more.  Please see www.UnityAwards.com for more information about the winners.  It was a great night of music with some of Christian music's finest talent

NEW CHANT CD ON SALE NOW

March 12, 2008

This CD presented unique challenges (e.g. traveling to Scotland with a toddler in tow; trying to stay on pitch without any accompaniment or anyone to listen to me; learning 17 ancient Gregorian chants, all of which were new to me), as well as great joys (e.g. all of the above challenges, plus working with Joe Hand and David Smith; singing in a medieval cathedral in Scotland; and getting to attend an old friend's wedding in a Scottish castle on my "day off"--so fun!).  I am humbled by the final product, which could only have been accomplished with the help of some very special friends and a great deal of divine assistance.

(Report after returning from Scotland in October, 2007):

I am happy to report that our October trip to Scotland was everything I had hoped it would be!  I began by singing for the wedding of a dear friend in the great hall of the Doune Castle (we were greeted with the father/son bagpipers above); was able to record most of the Gregorian chant CD (which is scheduled for an Easter release--see The Scotland Project for more information) in the 13th century Dunblane Cathedral; and gave two "Be Not Afraid" concerts in Glasgow (site of the June terrorist airport bombing).

At the end of our trip--and just after filming my exhausted 3-year-old Ceci bobbing to sleep in one of those wonderful British taxis--I left my camera on the seat.  ARGGHHHH!  Alas, the camera and all of my wonderful pictures for the CD are gone with it.  I found some links online to similar pictures, and others sent me pictures of the wedding, so this is something like what I had to show you:

  • A rainbow over a scenic river and bridge, with Doune Castle in the background (you can imagine!)
  •  Doune Castle (Doune Castle)
  • About a dozen men standing in the Doune Castle courtyard drinking champagne in their colorful tartan kilts.
  • Ceci, my mother and I arrive at Doune Castle:
  • This is Ceci and me as she "helps me" right before I have to sing for the wedding:
  • Note said daughter hiding under my wrap while I sing--it was a bit chilly in there!
  • This is the champagne reception in the King's Hall of the castle.
  • This was the first of several phases of the reception, which lasted 10 hours!
  • The beautiful Dunblane Cathedral
  •  (Dunblane Cathedral)
  •  (The Dunblane Cathedral choir, where I recorded the chant CD)
  • The lovely smiling faces of the audiences at my concerts and at the parties afterwards (while the group was small, five continents were represented at the University of Glasgow concert).  This part I just have to remember and you have to imagine. *sigh*
  • The view of Stirling Castle at night from our bedroom window in Bridge of Allan
  • The charming little village of Deanston on the River Teith (we stayed with the bride's parents after the wedding in one of those flats on the left--and the sky really was blue!)
  • The magnificent 12th c. Glasgow Cathedral
  •  (Glasgow Cathedral)

When time allows, I'll share more details of this anointed trip, especially the singing experiences in the Deanston Cathedral and the concerts.  In the meantime, I'm gearing up for my December concerts and working on the Gregorian chant CD.  Please keep this new project in your prayers!

UNITY AWARD WINNER

November 19, 2007

Be Bot Afraid won the 2007 "Album of the Year (Devotional)" award.  I received the award right before I sang "Now You Come to Me," the song I wrote for Pope JP II the night that he died.  I dedicated the award and the song to my dad, my special intercessor in heaven, which explains the tears.

Pictured here with fellow New Orleanians Raymond Arroyo (pithy host of the awards ceremony), and artist Kara Klein:

Pictured below with Kara and Alejandro Monteverde, writer and director of the movie Bella.

The Scotland Project

June 1, 2007

 WHY SCOTLAND?
A friend of mine from my Junior Year Abroad at the University of Edinburgh has invited me to her wedding in October, and I was thinking how magical the acoustics would be in one of those 13th century cathedrals.  Since the latest terrorist attacks, this trip is also shaping up to be a "Be Not Afraid" concert tour. We are still in the very early planning stages, but I ask you to keep this in your prayers.
The songs will be primarily the sacred Latin treasures that so many of you have asked for, including the English translations in the liner notes.  It will also include parts of the Latin Mass with translations in keeping with Pope Benedict XVI's desire that this treasure not be lost.
No matter what you may think about using Latin versus the local vernacular (I have no strong opinion either way), it sure would be neat to be able to pray the Mass in the same language as the natives no matter where you are in the world!
SONG LIST
Here is what we're considering so far:
  • A few different Latin Masses
  • Veni Creator Spiritus
  • O Sanctissima
  • Salve Regina
  • Tantum Ergo
  • Panis Angelicus
  • Ave Maria
  • Pater Nostra
  • Adoro Te Devote
  • Regina Coeli
  • Ave Verum Corpus
  • Pange Lingua Gloriosi
  • Parce Domine
  • Ubi Caritas
  • Attende Domine
  • Jesu Dulcis Memoria
  • Ave Maria
If there are any other songs you'd like to hear, I'd love to hear your ideas!  Also, these songs will be available for your personal dedications (as we did with the last CD in the liner notes).  Not only does this provide an essential part of the funding necessary to record these projects, it makes a beautiful and lasting memorial or gift to someone you love.  Please email me if you'd like more information about sponsoring a song on this new CD.
UPDATE:  I'm happy to report that this CD is now available for sale!  Please check out the music store for sound clips and purchasing.

Kitty on American Idol?

March 11, 2007

In addition to having phenomenal talent and sincere humility, she says on the AI website bio that her personal goals are "to represent Christ well and to do everything 150%."  What a gal!  And what a special addition she makes to the new CD.  She is also joined by some other wonderfully talented gospel singers, who truly took the songs ("Eye of the Storm", "Now You Come to Me", and "God Will Provide") to a whole new level.  "Bravo!" to Jason Eskridge and Missi Hale.

I saw an interview with Melinda in which she says that she had no discernable talents as a child, and that she was completely tone deaf.  She tried gymnastics, but that was a disaster (one thing she and I have in common).  And then in the seventh grade she decided to ask God to give her the gift of singing (that was the same year that it all started for me, as well).  He certainly answered her prayer!


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