Here are two wonderful pieces about Mother Angelic by two very dear friends – Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles and Fr. Jeffery Keyes of Santa Rosa (Pater Jeffrey Keyes on his FB page). Enjoy! May the Lord continue to bless us in this Easter season!
THE SPIRITUAL LEGACY OF MOTHER ANGELICA
(By Bishop Robert Barron – from The Pilot online):
Mother Angelica, one of the most significant figures in the post-conciliar Catholic Church in America, has died after a fourteen-year struggle with the after effects of a stroke. I can attest that, in “fashionable” Catholic circles during the eighties and nineties of the last century, it was almost de rigueur to make fun of Mother Angelica. She was a crude popularizer, an opponent of Vatican II, an arch-conservative, a culture-warrior, etc., etc. And yet while her critics have largely faded away, her impact and influence are uncontestable.
Against all odds and expectations, she created an evangelical vehicle without equal in the history of the Catholic Church. Starting from, quite literally, a garage in Alabama, EWTN now reaches 230 million homes in over 140 countries around the world. With the possible exception of John Paul II himself, she was the most watched and most effective Catholic evangelizer of the last fifty years.
Read Raymond Arroyo’s splendid biography in order to get the full story of how Rita Rizzo, born and raised in a tough neighborhood in Canton, Ohio, came in time to be a nun, a foundress, and a television personality. For the purposes of this brief article, I would like simply to draw attention to three areas of particular spiritual importance in the life of Mother Angelica: her trust in God’s providence, her keen sense of the supernatural quality of religion, and her conviction that suffering is of salvific value.
The accounts of the beginning of EWTN read like the stories of some of the great saintly founders of movements and orders within the Church. Mother had a blithe confidence that if God called her to do something, he would provide what was needed. Her right hand man, Deacon Bill Steltemeier, a lawyer and businessman who would prove indispensable in getting the operation of EWTN off the ground, came to her in the most remarkable way.
While in Chicago for a convention, he saw a flyer advertising a speech at a local parish by a nun whom he did not know. For some reason, he felt compelled to attend. Despite typically horrific Chicago winter weather and though he had no real idea where he was going, he made it to the parish and caught the second half of the nun’s presentation. Just as she was finishing up, he heard a voice saying quietly but insistently, “until the day you die.”
The nun, of course, was Mother Angelica. Deacon Bill interrupted his prosperous legal career, drove to Alabama, and presented himself to Mother, who calmly said, “I’ve been expecting you!” The voice, by the way, proved prophetic, for Deacon Bill died just a few years ago, having indeed served EWTN literally until his last day.
Some years later, Mother ordered a giant satellite dish in order dramatically to increase the reach of her network. When the device arrived, the driver of the truck demanded the money on the spot. Mother asked to be excused for a few minutes and went to her chapel to pray: “Lord, I thought you wanted this satellite thing; now give me the money I need!” As she went out to speak to the driver, one of her sisters ran up announcing, “There is a man on the phone who says he wants to give you a donation.” It was a gentlemen calling from a yacht in the Bahamas who said he suddenly had the inspiration to send Mother Angelica $600,000!
The second theme upon which I’d like to focus is her instinct for the supernatural dimension of Christianity. Now I realize that such an instinct might seem rather obvious, but in the immediately post-conciliar years there was indeed a tendency to naturalize the supernatural, to reduce Christianity to the works of social justice and the cultivation of psychological well-being.
Mother knew that a de-supernaturalized Christianity would in short order lose its soul and, paradoxically, its relevance to the world. Accordingly, she brought to the fore prayer, liturgy, the sacraments, sacramentals, the saints, adoration of the Eucharist, spiritual warfare, etc. And as someone who worked in the seminary world for twenty years, I can testify that this is precisely what made her talks and programs attractive to a younger generation of Catholics, who found much of liberal Catholicism indistinguishable from secular political and self-help programs.
The third and final motif I would stress is Mother Angelica’s penetrating understanding of the value of suffering. As Arroyo’s biography makes eminently clear, Mother endured tremendous suffering, both physical and psychological, most of her life, and she appreciated these trials as opportunities for spiritual growth. Nowhere was this clearer for her than in the last fourteen years of her life, as this once very vocal and active and woman accepted silence and immobility.
She told one of her sisters some years ago that if she got much sicker, she wanted every possible means employed to keep her alive, not because she was clinging to life, but “because I will have suffered one more day for the love of God.”
I often thought of Mother, during the last years of her life, as a kind of Mother Drexel for our time. That great foundress, after suffering a heart attack at 75, spent the last twenty years of her life praying for the order that she had established. Mother Angelica wasn’t perfect–and she would be the first to admit it. Due to her lack of polish and advanced theological education, she sometimes said things that were insufficiently nuanced and balanced. And her hot temper, which gave fire to her evangelization, also at times led her to indulge in ad hominem attacks and unfair characterizations of her opponents’ positions. But these are quibbles. When Church historians write their accounts of the years immediately following Vatican II, Rita Rizzo of Canton, Ohio, Mother Angelica, will find a very honored place.
Bishop Robert Barron is the founder of the global ministry, Word on Fire, and is an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
12 SAYINGS OF MOTHER ANGELICA THAT MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD
Posted on March 28, 2016 on his FB page by Pater Jeffrey Keyes
As many of you probably know by now, Mother Mary Angelica, the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) passed into eternal life yesterday afternoon around 5:00pm. It is fitting that Mother Angelica entered eternal life on the day Our Jesus Christ rose from the dead – Easter Sunday! I found out about her passing as I was sitting on the couch watching the New York Rangers hockey game and looking at Facebook on my iPhone. I knew she had been sick for many years, and although the news is sad, we can also rejoice knowing that she is in the presence of Jesus Christ.
In the book, Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, which I will draw from more shortly, Mother Angelica, says about “Your Place in Heaven” –
When we get to heaven, there will be many empty seats and many empty mansions, and they’ll stay that way forever because God has destined each of us for our specific degree of glory. My place in heaven is mine. No one else will ever use it or possess it or live in it. If I don’t get there, it will remain empty.”
Last night, after I arrived home from Easter brunch at my Mom’s with family and some new friends that my sister graciously asked to join us, I started thinking if I had any of Mother’s books in my personal library. After searching for only a minute, I came upon the aforementioned book that I referenced above. As I started to thumb through the pages thinking what I could write about, it came to me as I was laughing out loud (you know, LOL) that I could write on some of her funny, yet very truthful sayings.
Why did they make me laugh out loud? Well being in the position I am in as an evangelist (in a parish), sometimes these type of sayings come to mind, but often the filter in my head and mouth does the job a filter is suppose to do. It’s great to see that Mother Angelica not only thought about them, but also said or wrote them “out loud.”
The “little book” was published in 2007 and was edited and has some additional material in it by Raymond Arroyo. The link above will take you to the EWTN catalogue website where you can purchase the book if you so desire.
As I said above, these 12 sayings that I am about to list for you made me laugh out loud. One of them made me laugh so hard, I had to get up and get a drink of water. Although they might make you laugh, as they did me, there is a truth in these sayings that really should make one think. I hope you enjoy them as I did.
- “The apostles were dodos, dummies. But all the smart people in the world at the time wouldn’t take chances. That is the same problem we have today. The world is looking for intellectuals and the Lord is looking for dummies. That’s why I’m here.”
- “If you’re not a thorn in somebody’s side, you’re not doing Christianity right.”
- “If you’re breathing and you’ve got two legs, you’re called to holiness.”
- “Don’t be afraid to get frustrated. Look at me, I take a lot of Maalox. Somebody said to me not long ago, ‘I’m surprised that a woman of such great faith would have to take Maalox.’ I said, ‘My friend, my stomach doesn’t know about my great faith.’”
- “I’m not here to win friends and influence people. I’m here to do God’s Will. Now, if the accomplishment of that will bugs a lot of people, well, that’s their problem. I can’t help that.”
- “The apostles wouldn’t pass the seminary today. Heck, I doubt if they’d make it past the psychological screening.”
- “The sisters say I have the eighth gift of the Holy Spirit: guts!”
- “When I was a young novice I used to pray in the early morning, ‘Dear Lord, today I am going to be patient come hell or high water.’ And by nine o’clock came hell and high water! I blew it!”
- “St. Jerome had a terrible temper. He would hit himself with a rock every time he lost his temper. I’d be dead as a doornail, with no ribs, if I did that.”
- “I went to Confession one time and I told the priest, ‘I lost my temper.’ He said, ‘Keep it, nobody wants it.’ Well, I never said “lost” again because I was afraid I’d get another smart-aleck comment.”
- “After Mass one day a woman came to me complaining about a priest’s homily. His preaching ability left something to be desired, but then it’s not the Word you listen to, not the way it’s presented. So this woman was complaining and I asked her, ‘How much did you put in the collection?’ She said, ‘A quarter.’ I said, ‘What do you want for a quarter, Bishop Sheen?’”
Lastly, this is the one that forced me to get a drink of water and made me laugh for 3 minutes straight –
- “If you’re experiencing stress or tension give it to Jesus. Tell Him, ‘I feel like crawling the wall, but I love You and I want to give this to You.’ Do you think our Lord wasn’t tense living with those twelve screwball apostles?”
Mother Angelica’s wit and humor led many people to look at Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. I imagine she has her mansion in Heaven and it is suited just for her.
Mother Mary Angelica…Pray For Us.