Meet Br. Ken Galisa, MIC: 'The Sound and the Silence'

by Br. Ken Galisa, MIC

I entered the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in 1979, the first Marian vocation to come from Stockbridge, Mass. There was never any question I would become a Marian. I took my first vows in 1982, spent three more years in the Washington DC area, then got "temporarily" transferred to Stockbridge in 1985. Temporarily! That assignment is going on 22 years under four Provincial administrations.

My devotion to Mary begins first thing in the morning. I start the day with silence, which anyone who knows me would probably not believe! But that first half hour of meditative silence before the day begins gets me going. I spend that time in the presence of Our Lady and her Son.

I say the Rosary daily, sometimes twice a day. It's my favorite prayer. I love saying it. It was also Pope John Paul II's favorite prayer and that should inspire us, since he was so devoted to the Blessed Mother.

For me, saying the Rosary isn't so much a matter of concentrating on each word in the prayers. It's like music. I try to get into a rhythm. The repetition gets me into a pattern, freeing me to delve deeply into the mysteries. That rhythm leads me into meditation. Sometimes, when I say the Rosary by myself, I'll use Scripture passages or a candle as an aid, but however I get into a meditation, I stay there before moving on. My Rosaries often last more than an hour.

I come away feeling so refreshed, so one with God. The few times over the years when I couldn't say a Rosary, I could tell the difference. The day didn't feel the same. I felt empty, disjointed, and disoriented. That's when I realized that for me, the Rosary is a centering prayer.

As for my musical gifts, I thank God. Music has such power. When I sing, I give it my all, just as Jesus and Mary gave their all to us. You have to give every inch of your being, every fiber. I've heard good singers who have brought me to another realm, into another awareness of God. That's what I try to do for people when I sing. You have to inject your whole being into it and offer it as a gift.

If you don't do that, it ceases to become a ministry, and my music is definitely one of my ministries. People sometimes ask me, "Don't you want to become a priest"? I say, "It's not what I want. It's what the Lord wants." I think music is the way He has called me to help people. Some minister through the spoken or written word; for me, it's the "song word."

Early on, I learned that there are two elements of music: the sound and the silence. You have to have both. Without silence, you cannot hear the notes. Similarly, without silence, you cannot hear Mary's direction. That's why my quiet time first thing in the morning is so necessary. I want everyone to know that wonderful silence.

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