How a Nun Turned a Monastery Garage into a Global Catholic News Network

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In March of 1978, a 55-year-old cloistered nun named Mother Angelica went to Chicago. She was there to give workshops to supporters who would distribute her Catholic books and tapes. She had started making spiritual recordings in 1962, after one of the nuns in her community suggested she “record a ‘little heart to heart talk.’” The sisters sold the records to help pay the bills at their Franciscan monastery in Irondale, Alabama. While in Chicago, Mother Angelica visited a Baptist-run television station, and reportedly said, “Lord, I gotta have one of those.”

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Mother Angelica vs. Barack Obama: an epic struggle!


The latest American secularist onslaught against the Church, of course, is Obama’s recent edict that under his administration’s healthcare reform any provider of health care (including Catholic institutions) must be prepared to supply artificial contraception (including drugs which, though labelled contraceptive, are in fact abortifacient). I have recently written about this more than once. I now do so again to bring up to date anyone who has missed it, with one particular skirmish in the US Catholic fightback, that led by the redoubtable (and entirely admirable) Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, who is now taking the fight against Obama to the courts.

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Editor’s note: As “Joliet Jake” would say, “The smart money’s on the Penguin!”

Mother Angelica vs. the liberal Catholic bishops: A story for our times.


In 1978, her life was forever altered when she was introduced to a TV studio in Chicago. Instantly, she got the bug: she had to have one of her own. Then came the first of many disappointments dealing with the bishops. When she contacted them about a Catholic TV show, none replied. Undeterred, she secured funding from New York philanthropist Peter Grace, and in 1981 got a young lawyer and Catholic deacon, Bill Steltemeier, to craft a civil corporation called the Eternal Word Television Network. Bill would remain a loyal and talented ally throughout the tumultuous times to come.

When word reached Rome that a cloistered abbess was traveling the country in pursuit of her broadcasting dream, she ran into trouble with both American bishops and Vatican officials. But thanks to Cardinal Silvio Oddi, head of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, she prevailed.

It was never easy. Every time Mother Angelica thought she was in the clear, another bishop would raise objections to her venture. Indeed, the bishops tried to outdo her by launching their own effort, the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America (CTNA). It was clear from the beginning that Mother Angelica was seen as a threat: EWTN had a traditional orientation and CTNA took a modernist stance. EWTN won. CTNA collapsed.

It was not easy for the bishops to watch their own creation flounder while EWTN won the admiration of Pope John Paul II. Adding to their chagrin was their inability to get Mother Angelica to switch to a new interfaith satellite network. As to her own operations, Mother Angelica did not take kindly to those clerics who questioned her authority to showcase some bishops, but not others. “I happen to own the network,” she instructed. When told that this would not be forever, she let loose: “I’ll blow the damn thing up before you get your hands on it.”

In 1989, a report by the bishops complained that EWTN rejected “one out of every three programs submitted by the bishops conference.” The bishops and Mother Angelica were clearly on a collision course: she had no tolerance for the theological dissidence that was tolerated by many bishops and their staff. The last straw came when the bishops conference sent a show to be aired featuring a cleric promising female ordination under the next pope.

The dissent, whether voiced by the Catholic Theological Society of America, or by feminist nuns who favored gender-neutral language in the Catholic Catechism, distressed Mother badly. She even had to endure being lobbied to push for “inclusive” language in the Catechism by the likes of “conservatives” such as Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. That he failed should surprise no one.

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Canton celebrates Mother Angelica’s legacy

On Saturday, speakers, such as Raymond Arroyo, EWTN news director and host of the “The World Over,” recalled stories, often humorous, about Mother Angelica, while Deacon Bill Steltemeier, EWTN CEO and President Michael Warsaw and the Franciscan Friars answered questions from the audience on topics that included how they got their religious names, future network programming, proper dress for Catholics and words of comfort to those whose parishes are consolidating.

EWTN Spokeswoman Michelle Johnson estimated that roughly 2,000 people had attended the celebration as of Saturday afternoon. Parking lots surrounding the Civic Center were full of vehicles with out-of-town license plates, such as New York, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin. At least four hotels were sold out due to the event.

Mother Angelica, now 87 and in poor health, did not attend the celebration, but Warsaw told the audience that she was listening on her radio in Alabama and assured her that she was in the prayers of everyone who gathered just blocks away from the Liberty Avenue SE home she knew as a child.

Warsaw recounted a quote by Mother Angelica, saying “That unless we are willing to do the ridiculous, God cannot accomplish the miraculous.”

Link

Hopeful prayer Mother Angelica wrote for parents of miscarried/stillborn children

mother_angelicaMy Lord, the baby is dead!

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or a flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’?” Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”

I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.

Mother M. Angelica, courtesy of EWTN.com

Editor’s note:

The Church explains that (except for the Blessed Virgin Mary) all babies are conceived lacking grace and separated from God, in a state of spiritual deprivation, due to the inherited remains of the sin of Adam and Eve … Original Sin.

The whole matter is (typically) remedied shortly after birth, by the holy Sacrament of Baptism.

This presents a theological problem for the miscarried or the stillborn, since Baptism is available only to those who have been born alive, and since one who has not been baptized is (normally) considered unsuitable for Heaven.

Since we have no definitive, divinely revealed information as to exactly how God deals with this particular type of occurrence, all we can do is rely on God to do what is best … and in faith … consecrate the spirit of our infant child to God’s infinite mercy and tender love.

The routine practice of our Catholic faith seems to hold out even more genuine hope for us, in these cases.

Parents (particularly the mother) who remain in a state of grace, who regularly attend Mass, and who worthily and regularly partake of Holy Communion and other appropriate sacraments, have every reason to trust that God will take special charge of any child who might (for whatever reason) fail to survive the entire process of conception, gestation and live birth … since through our sacramental life of grace, the child in the womb is no stranger to God, who not only indwells our soul, but also nourishes and sanctifies our physical body (including the baby in the womb).

There is “precedent” for God acting in this way, since that is essentially what happened to John the Baptist (while still in-utero) the moment the Virgin Mary (already carrying Jesus in her blessed womb) first approached her cousin Elizabeth (John’s mother).

Here’s the biblical account:

Luke 1:39-44  And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.  And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.  And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.  And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

The Church has always considered this to be the moment that John the Baptist, still inside his mother, was himself first baptized.

What Jesus did for his cousin John he will more than likely also do for his faithful Catholic brothers and sisters.

So … even absent the Sacrament of Baptism, under extraordinary circumstances, we have great reason to believe that the same Christ who we receive bodily in Holy Communion … who knows us and loves us … is not likely to ignore or reject the little child dwelling inside the womb of a faithful, grace-filled, Catholic mother.

Our faith informs us, in light of all this, that God, because he is good,  just, and merciful, will accomplish whatever might be necessary, through his abundant grace … to grant the baby eternal salvation and peace … lovingly taking the infant to himself.

Matthew 19:13-14  Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of Heaven is for such.

Mother Angelica obviously knows and loves God, and in her prayer for these special babies, she faithfully takes Jesus at his word. For a number of very good reasons, faced with the profound tragedy of a miscarriage or still birth, we should too. 

More on this very sensitive matter here

Killed in Darkness, Remembered in Light

Killed in Darkness, Remembered in Light

by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

On the afternoon of Sunday, July, 27, 2008, close to five hundred of the faithful filled the tremendous Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament that Mother Angelica built in Hanceville, Alabama. They were gathered for the funeral of three children – Karen Esther, Enoch, and Rebekah.

The three children were all in the same small white casket. All had been killed just weeks earlier by abortion, and discarded in the trash outside of an abortion mill in Livonia, Michigan. Dr. Monica Miller, Director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, transported the children to Alabama.

I conducted the funeral ceremony. Mother Angelica’s community of sisters sang. The People of Life prayed, worshipped, mourned, and rejoiced in the hope of resurrection. As they honored the dead, they recommitted themselves to protect the living.

I have done funerals like this in various parts of the country. It was especially important, however, that this funeral took place at Mother Angelica’s Shrine. I remember when she first told me, years ago, that at the heart of her vision for that Shrine was the unborn child. This was to be a place dedicated to the Divine Child, and a place where children in the womb – so easily forgotten and discarded in this culture of death – would be remembered and celebrated.

That’s what we did on July 27.

I reminded the congregation of the funeral that Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago conducted back in 1988, when he buried two thousand aborted babies. When asked about the legal implications of the burial, he responded that such concerns paled to insignificance in comparison to the evil of taking innocent human life. He said he was doing a corporal work of mercy – to bury the dead.

That’s what the People of Life do. They protect the living, and they bury the dead. They are not ashamed or afraid to honor in public those who are dishonored in secret by the hidden violence of abortion. By gathering in large numbers to bury aborted children, and by letting as many people as possible know about it, they make up in some small way for the callous disregard in which these children are held by many in our society.

That’s why the 16,500 babies found in a large container in the Los Angeles area in the mid-1980’s had to wait for three years before they were buried, as abortion supporters launched a legal battle to block the burial. They did not want society to acknowledge in any way that there was any humanity there to be honored. Just throw them away – and the more secret, swift, and private the better. So the abortion advocates believe.

But the Church believes different, and as we believe, so we worship. The congregation – including children holding their parents’ hands – filed by the casket, which was open, and viewed the remains of these babies. There were tears of sorrow, but full of hope.

Each person left that church more committed than ever to bring the killing to an end.

This column can be found online at http://www.priestsforlife.org/columns/columns2008/08-07-27-hanceville-funeral.htm

Fr. Frank’s columns can be heard via podcast. See www.priestsforlife.org/podcast for more details.

Fr.. Frank’s columns can be listened to in MP3 format at www.priestsforlife.org/columns/columns2008/index.htm
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Praise for our Work!

Dear Janet and Fr. Frank, just wanted to let you know since our [Gospel of Life] program was on the “Angel network” we have been receiving around 30+ phone calls per week! In addition, we have had 3 International calls. One from France and two from England. Thank you so much for helping us reach out to more people in need. We look forward to working with you soon. Always for Life, Shawn and Kambra Malone (Back in His Arms Ministry)