It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Holy Week, Easter, the passing of Mother Angelica. Each of these are extremely powerful in and of themselves. Today though, I want to focus on Mother Angelica who, in her life, reflected both Holy Week and Easter until her final earthly breath.
I’m pretty sure Mother would not want a long eulogy about how much she has inspired me. Instead, it would only please her to praise the Lord who worked through her to reach me. If it was not for a series of events that led me to purchase Mother’s biography it is undeniable that this blog and my writing career would not exist. Reading about her faith in Jesus fanned my faith.
“A soul that trusts God is invincible.” and
“Faith is one foot up in the air and a queasy feeling in the stomach.” (How true that is!)
“Boldness should be the 11th Commandment.”
That is one thing she did not lack. That is why she herself was so endearing. We are naturally inclined to those who immolate it. That is one of the many reasons Jesus and the saints are so attractive. They have a surety and confidence that is mystifying to those of us who don’t have it. If you ever watch reruns of Mother Angelica Live Mother always had an answer. She wasn’t wishy-washy. She was bold, straight and to the point. She didn’t let her past get in the way of her communion with Jesus or her mission of bringing Him to others. They worked side by side to carry out the mission He had for her life. Jesus was not a distant figure to her, He was her spouse and she knew Him well. Isn’t that part of being a saint? Knowing Jesus well.
The apostles had jaded pasts. Heck they had jaded presents at times. “No, I’m greater.” “No, I’m greater.” “Lord, sit me at your right hand.” “Then I get your left!” “Jesus, who? Nope, don’t know him.” There were tax collectors and fishermen among them. They were considered the lowest and not the prettiest nor smartest people in society. Yet, they were the ones who answered His call to “Follow me”. The ‘smart’ people were no where to be seen in the inner twelve. Just some rough men who had great faith and boldness in spades.
Yet, even with these pasts we never hear the apostles say to Jesus (like Moses did) “Lord, I’m not fit for this mission.” or “Lord, I’m not eloquent enough to preach your Gospel.” “I don’t have the education needed.” “I’m just a fisherman/tax collector/etc.”
They went out preaching knowing that many would be aware of their backgrounds, their imperfections and if they weren’t they would after a few minutes of talking to them. But I think it is critical to note that their worries are no where recorded in Scripture. They trusted that God would provide. They went forth with boldness to proclaim Christ. And you know what? They were invincible.
Not in the sense that they couldn’t be touched physically–goodness knows those guys took beatings and were persecuted out the wazoo–but you know what? Their faith gave them something I wish I had: The faith to not care about anyone’s opinion except God’s! They didn’t care what happened to their earthly bodies, they cared only about spreading the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth, they cared about saving souls. They were willing to offer every inch of their being and breaths in their body to minister to the people of God.
That, my friends, is the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit.
To have such zeal to know that the people of this world may slander you, beat you and even kill you but your reward is in heaven and then the joke is on them.
That is part of the great legacy of Mother Angelica. She was praised by popes but persecuted by bishops, she suffered greatly in this world with many health problems yet she always saw her illnesses as a chance for saving souls. Even towards the end it is said that she told her sisters to “shove as many pills down me as you can.” When asked why, she replied (paraphrased), “Because one more day I get to suffer is one more day I get to offer up for souls.” It doesn’t take being drug out into the streets to be persecuted or to offer suffering (Just bring up you are Catholic in a public space). Anyone can be a saint right where they are. That is the great message of Jesus through Mother Angelica: anyone can be a saint. ANYONE!
Reflection: Mother Angelica was often quoted as saying that the biographers of saints should be sent to purgatory for forty years. Why? Because they made saints seem unreal. They made holiness seem unattainable. In her book “Answers not Promises”, she asks where are all the saints with long noses, warts, and unflattering figures? We need to make saints real again, not just by speaking/reading about their lives but by becoming ones ourselves. We need saints who are moms, dads, accountants, lawyers, doctors, priests, nuns, teachers, etc. We need people living in this culture who have managed to find, love and serve God. We just first have to get it through our heads that we can in fact be saints too!
Challenge: If you were to write your saint biography right now what would it say? Think about it in your spare and wandering thoughts. Would it talk about how much you loved and served your family or spouse? Or would it talk about how much time you spent at work and money you saved up during your lifetime? Would it speak of your struggles to find holiness and communion with God in your vocation? Or would it list the great car you just bought and the amazing deal you got on your house?