(The following article is a copy of Fr. Joseph’s homily for Mother M. Angelica’s Mass of Christian Burial on April 1, 2016.)

You know that we had many plans at EWTN for when this day would come, but God was always full of surprises when it came to Mother Angelica. And so, for example, we had spent hours preparing booklets for the Solemn Vespers of the Dead, but during the Easter Octave, you are not permitted to pray the Office of the Dead, (the Lord wanted us to sing Alleluias instead) and so we had to quickly prepare different texts for our beautiful Easter Octave Vespers last evening. We also had to change the first Reading for the Mass today, because of the Easter Season. And our First Reading was taken from the Book of Revelation, a vision of John, where he sees something new – a new heaven – a new earth – a new Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

You cannot understand Mother Angelica without reference to the One she loved with the passion of the Bride: Jesus, the Eternal Word, who became man and dwelt among us.

Mother, speaking of her healing as a teenager 1-IMG_0447-768x512said: When the Lord came in and healed me through the
Little Flower, I had a whole different attitude. I knew there was a God; I knew that God knew me and loved me and was interested in me. I didn’t know that before. All I wanted to do after my healing was give myself to Jesus.

In one of her letters from that time she wrote: … before I was cured I was a lukewarm Catholic … now I love our Lord so that there are times when I think I will die. When I think of all that He has done for me and how little I have done for Him, I could cry.

I remember the love with which she would kiss the Cross on Good Friday. On the Last Good Friday of her life, I held that cross (Crucifix on coffin placed at Mother’s head) up to her lips to kiss for the last time.

You cannot understand Mother Angelica without reference to the One she loved with the 1-IMG_0462-768x512passion of the Bride: Jesus, the Eternal Word, who became man and dwelt among us.

What was it that prompted the transformation of a garage into a television studio? It was that the Divinity of Jesus must be upheld. He IS the Eternal Word, the Divine Son of God. He is the Bridegroom of the Church and thus hers – since contemplative women religious especially manifest the bridal nature of the Church. And as a faithful bride, she would defend the One she was wed to.

She sometimes joked about the fact that on the day of her Solemn Profession, the ceremony wasn’t very edifying. The bishop, I think was late, and when he put the ring on her finger espousing her to Christ, he only put it on half way. But there was something deeper going on inside of her. She knew Whom she loved and to Whom she was giving herself. And that was all that mattered. (We’re making up for that lack of ceremony then – today, dear Mother).

When I was in seminary, some people thought Mother went 1-IMG_0470-768x512overboard in speaking out against a movie
portraying Jesus being tempted on the Cross. I remember the comments made in one of my theology classes in Rome. But it was love for Jesus that impelled her and I think a larger question for each of us is, do we love Jesus enough to defend Him, even if we may be ridiculed for doing so?

When she was on Larry King Live show, to talk about the movie debating the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, who was Catholic, at one point she said, “Look sweetheart …” (and if you ever heard those words, you knew you were in trouble) … “Look sweetheart, you are first of all a Child of God.”

You cannot understand Mother Angelica without reference to the One she loved with the passion of the Bride: Jesus, the Eternal Word, who became man and dwelt among us.

1-IMG_3031-768x512She wanted each one of us to love Jesus more. And she has helped us all and so many throughout the years and throughout the world to do that. Often, I will ask people who tell me they watch EWTN, what are their favorite programs. Usually Mother’s programs are on top of the list.

Jesus, in the Gospel today, said that He is the living bread – that came down – from heaven – and that just as He has life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Him will have life because of Him. That is the secret of Mother Angelica’s legacy, it is HIS legacy – yes, the One she loved, but the One who loved her even more – with the passion of a Bridegroom. She had life and was able to give life, because He gave life to her. She was fed, not with dead wheat, but with a living bread from Heaven. EVERY DAY! She was united to Him in a Holy Communion EVERY DAY! Her legacy is a legacy of HIS work in her. To Him be praised forever! For He has reached out with His mercy to the world through her and the works He brought about through her.

A second point I would like to make today is the 1-IMG_0964-768x512Scripture passage which is engraved on Mother’s tomb. It is also the passage to which the bible on Mother’s coffin is opened (Placed at Mother’s heart). It is one of her favorite passages that she often quoted in speaking about the call to holiness being attainable for everyone, not just for a select few. No one was born a Saint – but working daily on it, the grace of God will bring them there: The Scripture passage is taken from 2 Cor 3:18:

And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; This is the work of the Lord Who is Spirit.

Yes, We are all called to be Saints. Don’t miss the opportunity.

1-IMG_0743-768x512You know, I think everyone here today wants to be a saint – and that many of those with us through the media want to be saints, too. Mother helped us to believe that it is attainable. That even if we were impetuous like St. Peter, or gruff like St. Jerome, with a past like St. Mary Magdalene or tempted like St. Francis, we could advance and grow with our particular temperament, weaknesses, strengths and circumstances. Yes, Mother said, the biographers of the Saints should spend 40 years in Purgatory because they made holiness seem impossible to attain. Hers was a practical spirituality for the man in the pew.

I believe that deep down we all want holiness, because it is the only thing that is really satisfying in life. The Saints are those who reached their potential, and even beyond, because of the grace of God at work in them, transforming them as they grow brighter and brighter through the work of the Spirit.

Finally, the last item on Mother’s coffin are the roses at her feet, representative of her spiritual daughters loving devotion.

I especially want to offer thanks to Sr. Gabriel, 1-IMG_1197-768x512Sr. Regina and Sr. Michael for showing us the value of life in your sacrificial love in caring for Mother over the years she required so much care. St. Francis spoke of the primacy of our example. And you have all taught me and so many others by your example that to love is to serve. I also want to thank especially Mother’s many care-givers over the years for the same loving example.

You know, I have thought and worked for some time on what I would say when this day came, and I have shared some of that with you today. But last night, when I read what someone who truly knew Mother wrote, I felt like St. Bonaventure who, after reading St. Thomas’ texts for the new Feast of Corpus Christi, quietly tore up his own. After all, how could my reflections compare with those of one who spent nearly 65 years of Religious Life with her? With one who entered the monastery 7 years after Mother did in Ohio, became part of the new adventure to Alabama, learned from her and cared for her in the last years of Mother’s life.

1-IMG_1220-768x512Sr. Mary Michael, the Mother Vicar of the Community here in Hanceville wrote this about Mother Angelica:

Being a spiritual daughter of Mother Angelica was a unique, privileged experience. Mother had a wealth of spiritual knowledge, experience and commonsense, plus an exceptional gift for seeing the root of a problem and being able to give sound, practical advice on what to do. She could correct and sometimes had to use what she called her “yelling theology” if we were in a bad state of mind and were not listening. She used it on me once and later explained to me that she had to do it to get me to listen, sort of like throwing cold water at someone to get them to wake up. She never crushed you and often after such corrections you might feel the warmth of a hand on your shoulder and knew she was standing behind you – her way of letting you know you were loved and, so to speak, still in her “good graces” because I think there were a lot of people both lay and religious who felt Mother Angelica was not upset with you that you were also in God’s good graces.

Yes, Mother Angelica’s life has blessed us all and 1-IMG_1301-768x512your presence here is a testimony to that. On a Live Show one time, she said to someone who felt motherless, that she would be their mother. Those of us who were privileged to know her, truly felt that to her, we were a beloved son or a beloved daughter.

Sr. Michael continued, “Instilling a family spirit in the Community was very important in making us all feel united and loved and caring for each other. Mother cared deeply about the ordinary person and wanted to make the gospels appealing to them and reach to the masses with the Word of God, hence the TV Network, another story in itself.

On a personal, individual level Mother counseled many people, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Many of these were professional people and the problems woulc be quite varied, from family problems to spiritual, and she obviously gave great advice as these people remained friends for life.”

1-IMG_1322-768x512Of how Mother overcame problems, Sr. Michael wrote:

Problems and challenges did not discourage Mother. They were opportunities to look for a solution. No pity parties allowed. If one door closes go through another, follow the leading of Our Lord and be on with it. What seemed to be setbacks often turned out to be an opening to something bigger and better. When we could no longer roast peanuts because buyers wanted kickbacks (Mother said she was not going to lose her soul over a peanut) we closed that phase of our life and went on to copying spiritual tapes, a far better work. When Mother was no longer able to tape her TV programs at a local TV Station she went on to found her own Television Network. Mother was not afraid to do what seemed ridiculous and God certainly performed miracles for her. Her only fear was not to do God’s will.

Life without Mother will never be the same – there 1-IMG_1337-768x512will always be a hole in our hearts.

Sister M. Michael

But for all of us, let us be consoled by listening to some of the words of Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz, Pope St. John Paul’s personal secretary for 40 years, who sent a letter of condolence to the nuns and those who collaborated with her. He wrote:

I received the sad information regarding Mother Angelica the Foundress of EWTN, whom the Lord called to the heaven on Easter Sunday March 27, 2016. It is only fitting that the Lord chose this day to call home one of his humble servants.

1-IMG_0633-768x512I met her personally, when she was visiting the Holy Father John Paul II in Vatican and I have to give witness, that she was a wonderful women dedicated to Jesus and to the Church. She devoted her life to ministry, converting untold numbers of people to the Church. She left an indelible mark on the Catholic Church and the world as a whole. She will be always remembered for her personal sermons and she will live on forever in the hearts of all those that her sermons have touched through her gift to the world, the Eternal Word Television Network.

Mother Angelica was a great Apostle of Jesus and gave a wonderful witness to the Love of God in The Eternal Word Television Network. I am convinced She is enjoying eternal life with our Lord in Heaven.

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz

Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *