Mother Angelica: a woman of great faith and wisdom.
According to the media, 2016 was awash with celebrity deaths, probably no more than usual. Celebrities die every year, possibly more died in other years than died in 2016, or maybe that year was out of the ordinary, I don’t know and have no desire to find out. One thing that frustrated me though is that throughout most of 2016, some of these celebrities were being paraded as heroes. I’ve no doubt that these were decent people, much like Alan Rickman, Prince, Carrie Fisher, to name but a few.
However, on Easter Sunday of 2016, a tiny little woman died who has been given absolutely no mention in our secular media, a true hero for all Catholics.
A woman who, of her time, had a very difficult living situation growing up.
A woman who lived in poverty and was raised by a single mother in the early 1920’s.
A woman who was told she would go nowhere and do nothing, grew up to be the founder of the only Catholic station on television, without a penny to her name. She had many obstacles thrown her way for doing this, but she kept going, relentless and persistent to glorify Almighty God. She did everything for His Glory and to bring people to Him. This tiny little nun changed the lives of more people than most of us could do in ten lifetimes. Some people literally owe their lives to this little nun, a woman who was so feisty and so full of attitude, a personality that we don’t always think is typical of your run-of-the-mill cloistered nun.
It saddened me that she got almost no mention, she has done more for this world than we will ever know and has converted hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to Catholicism with the Eternal Word Television Network, or better known as EWTN. Mother Angelica, originally Rita Rizzo, was a woman of great virtue, faith, wisdom, and was filled with intense passion for what she was doing for God, a passion that didn’t subside on her death bed.
For those of you who have yet to be introduced to Mother Angelica, here I would like to offer a brief introduction into her unwavering trust in God, a trust that got her mission off the ground. Mother was someone that offers great hope and reassurance in these troubling times when it comes to living and bearing witness to our Catholic faith. This article will not do her justice, but if it makes her known to even one person and encourages them to turn on EWTN out of sheer curiosity, then it’s an article well worth the time.
When I think of trusting God, the first example that comes to my mind is how Mother Angelica trusted Him in all things. She started EWTN with nothing; she had no money and started operating out of her garage. Many of us say that we would do great things for God, if only we had the money, the time, resources, people etc. Mother didn’t entertain these stumbling blocks. She lived in the present moment, praying to God for her new venture. She thoroughly believed that if God wanted this, then the money would come, and it did. So many times EWTN was on the brink of collapse and many of the sisters and Mother’s ‘team would worry. She would almost always remain calm and tell them that God will provide, that worry is useless and to pray instead of worrying. I can think of one time in particular when EWTN was faced with a bill they could not pay, and on the day before the money was due, she received a donation for the exact amount that was owed. There was no way that the individual donating could have known about the bill, once more proving to us through Mother Angelica’s trust that God will always provide, regardless of how bleak the situation may seem. If we trust Him completely, He will always provide.
Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled.
In a prayer book entitled The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica by Raymond Arroyo, there is a beautiful little meditation composed by the nun called Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled. In this little meditation, she says:
“In John chapter fourteen, the Lord says “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God and trust in Me.” That’s an awesome sentence that you can meditate on all day. You have to do something about all your worries and frustrations. He continues: “There are many rooms in my Father’s house.” In other words, you’re not aiming for the same place. You’re all different. “If it were not, I should have told you.” What a beautiful act of humility. You know, Our Lord is so, He’s a gentle man. He’s saying here, “There are all kinds of rooms in my Father’s house. There’s a place for you, don’t worry about it. There’s a place for your family, don’t worry about it. Trust in Me”.
Why don’t we think of that one sentence when we have doubts in faith, whether they’re put there by our own ignorance, our own stubbornness, or whether it’s the devil tempting us through lack of faith? The Lord clearly says, “I would have told you” if it was otherwise.
And then he promises: “I go to prepare a place for you. And after I’ve gone and prepared a place for you, I shall return to take you with me so that where I am, you may also be.” Do you really believe that? Do you? Oh, come on. Would you worry if you believed it? If you were going on a trip and didn’t know where you were going to stay, you’d have a legitimate reason to worry. But if the Lord God, Who is all light, all truth, said, “I have a place for you” then you would be stupid to worry between this point and the final point.
Look at your worries today. You don’t believe what He said. You don’t believe He’s prepared a place for you. You don’ believe that if it weren’t true He would have told you. You’ve got to worry, you’ve got to figure it out. Well, you can’t figure everything out. It’s stupid. Our Dear Lord stripped everything of complexities.
“If it were not so, I would have told you.” That one line should clarify every doubt in your mind from now until the day you die” (p. 182/3).
Do we really trust God?
This meditation is what I have called a trust exercise. Do we really trust God? Many of us say we do but how many of us really trust Him completely? We are supposed to trust in God the way a small child trusts in their parents. It’s like when I tell Hollie that I will look after her or assure her that everything will be okay when she is upset, she looks up at me so innocently and trusts in me completely. She takes my word and that is final for her, she totally one hundred percent trusts me and that I will do right by her.
Do we trust in God in this way, because that is how we are supposed to! After all, we are children of God. We may be people in the world (not of it), we may be a mother, father, brother, sister, etc but to God, to the Almighty, we are His children! Recently I was reading this Gospel passage and it really deals with the importance of praying and totally trusting God. Jesus tells His disciples:
“Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” (Mt 7:9-12).
If we, who are mortal and prone to sin, can do all things right and in total love for our children, then how much more will God give those who ask Him in complete confidence, trusting in His goodness? We say we trust in God, we say we trust in His plan, but as St Louis de Montfort pointed out, we are weak and unstable and our confidence is so easily shaken when trials and suffering arise. We must remember that God is good all the time, everyday, in every situation and in all things God is always good! In the book of Isaiah, we are told:
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (54:10).
He has a plan, He has a great plan for all of us but for that plan to take shape, we must trust everything into His loving care. We must live in the present moment, as Mother Angelica did. We must stop waiting for everything to be perfect and secure before beginning our work for God. Look around you, when is there a right time for anything? There never is. Mother Angelica trusted in God when she had nothing, she trusted to an extent that many of us may think extreme but look what came of it, a television network, not to mention the monastery she built, the orders of priests and nuns she founded and her radio network. Even as I write this, I am filled with goose bumps. She was just one woman from Canton, Ohio, and look what she accomplished because of her trust in God.
St Catherine of Siena said “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Mother Angelica was everything God meant her to be, and she lit the world ablaze. If we entrust ourselves completely to the Almighty and strive to do His Will at every hour of every day that He has given to us, we will do the same!