The life of EWTN foundress Mother Angelica was a testament to St. Paul’s teaching that “God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,” preached the celebrant of vespers at a prayer vigil offered for her repose.
“How we do need to interpret” Mother Angelica’s life, Fr. Anthony Mary, MFVA, preached, “is if we’re going to boast in anything, the boast of Mother Angelica was not herself. The boast of Mother Angelica was always Jesus Christ.”
Fr. Anthony Mary preached at Thursday evening’s solemn vespers for Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN and abbess emerita of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, as she lay in repose in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. Mother Angelica passed away Easter Sunday, March 27.
The vespers were followed by a prayer vigil for Mother Angelica celebrated by Bishop Robert Joseph Baker of Birmingham.
The reading for the vespers was 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, where St. Paul writes that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no man might boast before God.”
Mother Angelica lived this reading, Fr. Anthony Mary said, because she, like the Apostles, was “weak” and “lowly” yet served God faithfully when chosen by Him. “Our Lord didn’t call the perfect” to spread the Gospel, he noted, but men who were “old” and “weak.”
“How deeply she loved them,” he said of Mother Angelica and the Apostles, because “she rejoiced in the weakness of those men” because they were like us, and not perfect.
She came from a “humble” and “challenging background,” Fr. Anthony Mary said, and then chose a “life of humility” by responding to her vocation as a cloistered nun. Mother Angelica also dealt with back pain and used crutches for years and had severe asthma. She suffered a stroke in 2001 that forced her off the air. After that she lived a “hidden life” where she was “frail” and “weak,” he said.
“Pain is my constant companion,” Fr. Anthony Mary quoted Mother Angelica, saying it was her “constant reminder” of her “union with Our Suffering Lord.” This helped her to be in tune with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, he said.
Her operation, EWTN, had a humble nature, he added. It started in a garage and the main campus in Irondale is still “not really anything much to look at,” he said. It’s “not CNN” and “certainly not ESPN,” he added to chuckles in the audience. Yet it “carries out the mission that Mother founded” and has done great work, he noted.
Like the Apostles who were instructed by Christ in the Gospel to cast their nets over the side of the boat, the nets were tearing at the size of the catch, Fr. Anthony Mary said. It was Jesus and the Father Who did this, not the Apostles, he emphasized. They simply “followed the command of the Lord.”
Mother Angelica taught that when we preach the Gospel, “we have to cast the nets” and respond to God’s call, he explained. She lived this by obedience to God and trusting in His call, he said, and God produced the fruits.
Preaching at the prayer vigil later on Thursday, Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA, admonished those in attendance to heed the words of Mother Angelica on death and judgment.
“Death indeed is the reality that everyone will face,” he said, noting that Mother called it “the beautiful moment of our life.”
“We will be judged on love,” he said, on the choices we made “for God or for ourselves.”
“Make your choice now,” he quoted Mother Angelica. “Wherever you land, wherever you go, it’s forever. So make it a good destination.”