Yesterday evening I turned on the television to EWTN to see what was being said about Mother Angelica's death. One of Mother's shows from 1996 was being aired at the time. It was a blessing for me to hear her discuss the challenges of her own suffering.
Earlier in the day my wife had asked how I was feeling. (I recently had another bout with atrial fibrillation and was placed on an additional medication.) I told her that I could tell my heart was beating in rhythm but that I was extremely fatigued. I flippantly added that the last time I felt good was almost 30 years ago prior to being diagnosed with cancer the first time.
Obviously, my body has never been the same since chemotherapy treatments, but I have been able to lead a productive and full life. It hasn't always been easy, but it has been blessed. Mother Angelica reminded me of the power of suffering when we unite ourselves to the cross of Christ. I have done a lot of reflecting through the years on the role of suffering in our lives. The attitude with which we approach these challenges and struggles can make a huge difference. Mother Angelica's words from 1996 were pertinent to my mindset yesterday, and I am grateful that I turned her program on at the right time. I needed a reminder of the value that can be present in the midst of our sufferings. Less grumbling and more uniting would be wise.
Mother Angelica was not viewed in a favorable manner from the "liberal" wing of the Church. In many circles she was seen as someone who was blocking progress. It was interesting to watch as she directly addressed her critics in the episode that I saw last night from 1996. She was covering some of the sins listed in Paul's letter to the Galatians. As she covered them one by one she mentioned that some people would think she is being harsh. She said, "I love you too much not to tell you the truth."
The Church is divided; there is no doubt about that. The number of Protestant denominations shows just how divided Christianity is overall, but the division within the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church are just as prevalent and notable. We see the "politics" of the Church being analyzed and discussed each time there is an appointment of a bishop to a particular diocese or office. Mother Angelica may not have had a position of authority at the Vatican or even at the USCCB, but she wielded a great deal of influence anyway. Her detractors were not happy about that fact.
I had the opportunity to visit Alabama in the fall of 2014 with my mom. We were able to see the EWTN campus as well s the monastery. My mom had been an avid fan of EWTN for years and benefited immensely from the programming which included daily Mass and the rosary. During her 90th year I was able to make this "bucket list" item come to fruition. I am so grateful that we made the trip.
I don't know what your views are on Mother Angelica and the EWTN enterprise, but I am grateful for the positive influence that the network has had in my life. Mother Angelica's endeavors have demonstrated the limitless possibilities of proclaiming the Gospel through modern media. Even the detractors would have to admit that there is something to be learned from methodologies employed by Mother Angelica through the years.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.