I'm A Mother Angelica Catholic

Mother Angelica

By Roger D'Aquin


I wouldn’t be who I am if it were not for my Catholic faith. It informs everything that I do. Somebody asked me once what type of Catholic I am. This was a person familiar with the diversity and even divisions within the Catholic faith. They wanted to know if I was a traditionalist, or a reformer, or a charismatic, a liberal or a conservative, or whatever. My answer surprised them. I said, “I’m a Mother Angelica Catholic”.

Mother Angelica died Easter Sunday 2016. I have been praying to her as a siant ever since. I am convinced she reached a state of holiness on earth and that her years of suffering beofre her death, were her purgatory.

The Catholic Network, EWTN, has been a vehicle God has used to reach me throughout my life, starting when I was in a teenager. It was extremely important to me during my years in college and there are many lessons I simply would not if learned, if not for EWTN, which she founded. Rita Antoinette Rizzo was born into difficult circumstances in 1923. Her mother struggled with severe depression and her father abandoned the family when she was very young. She did not have a good relationship with either parent. At 21 she entered cloistered life becoming a Poor Clare novice. She was received into the community on November 8, 1945 and given the name Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, and she professed her lifelong vows on January 3, 1953. She had a serious accident in the monastery later that year that left her partially crippled and with lifelong back and leg pain, but she never let that slow her down.

She was inspired by the civil rights movement and believed God was leading her to create a cloistered community for black women. While she had no money to do so, she showed her fund raising talents. She and her sisters raised in excess of $10,000 from fishing lures that they made themselves and sold. In 1962 Mother Angelica and four sisters established Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale Alabama.

Her sisters were impressed with her teaching and knowledge of scripture and encouraged her to do something cloistered nuns generally don’t, teach those outside the monastery. In 1971 she received special permission to do just that. She began hosting two hour “Parlor Talks” to discuss scripture with women from the outside world. The talks were mainly for Catholics but others showed up as well.

Mother Angelica reported being amazed at how little these women knew and how they were struggling. The non Catholics knew the scriptures, but they didn’t know how to live an interior spiritual life and live like Jesus did. The Catholics knew the sacraments, but they didn’t know the scriptures and they hadn’t internalized the sacraments into their hearts. “Giving this class, I realized how little people knew,” she said, according to an account in Raymond Arroyo’s 2005 biography of her. This is discussed in detail in Raymond Arroyo’s biography of her. He quotes her as saying she felt called “to help the laity ‘live the Gospel’ and develop an interior life.”

Out of her “Parlor Talks” grew the making and distributing of books and tapes. In 1978 she was in Chicago giving workshops to Catholics who distributed her books and tapes. She visited a Baptist television station when she was there and felt inspired to start her own TV station. She never concerned herself with problems about not having the money to start a project. If she believed God wanted her to start something, she would start it. If God wanted her to continue he would show her how to get the money. Her first television pilot was aired by Pat Robertson on CBN, in 1978. 2 years later Mother Angelica not only had a studio, but had founded EWTN. In the beginning they would share a channel and broadcast 4 hours a day and were available to about 300,000 homes. Things took off from there and the rest is history.

Mother Angelica was never one to bow to political correctness, inside or outside the Church. I will never forget her outrage over a Youth Day event in Colorado, in which a woman portrayed Christ in the way of the cross.

“I’m tired. I’m tired of being pushed in corners. I’m tired of your inclusive language that refuses to admit that the Son of God is a man! I’m tired of your tricks. I’m tired of your deceit. I’m tired of you making a crack, and the first thing you know there’s a hole, and all of us fall in…. I’m so tired of you, liberal Church of America.” As she continued, she recited a litany of outrages, including disrespect for the Eucharist, centering prayer, and mandatory sex education in the schools, Mother Angelica finally came to an explosive rage, “You’re sick… You have nothing to offer. You do nothing but destroy. You don’t have any vocations and you don’t even care – your whole purpose is to destroy.”

Now that is a woman I can relate to! Mother Angelica always remained obedient to Christ, her vows, and Church authority, but that didn’t keep her from speaking her mind and even calling out a Bishop, if he she felt he had done the wrong thing.

If Christ’s apostles made mistakes and had failings while He was with them, how much harder is it now when we walk by faith and not sight? Remember that even in the time of Christ, 1/12 of the Apostles were completely corrupt, another 1/12 denied Him 3 times, another 1/12 wouldn’t believe the resurrection until he saw and touched, and only 1/12 had the guts to be at the foot of the cross with His mother. Mother Angelica would have given the Apostles what for.

I hope that I have half the courage to speak truth to power as Mother Angelica. I hope that my faith and love will grow and that I will develop an ever deeper relationship with Jesus. I hope that I will have the faith and courage to run the my home based animal rescue the way Mother Angelica ran EWTN. She took help from anyone and always believed the money would be there to do what she was called to do. I hope that I will always listen to the voice of God, and ask Him if I am doing the right thing.  In the spirit of Mother Angelica, I have no qualms about asking for money to keep us going.  Please keep us between your gas and electric bill.