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Mother Angelica: An Appreciation

03/28/2016 Comments (2)

Better writers than me have been penning encomiums and praises for Mother Angelica (beautifully blessed by our Lord to be called home to heaven on Easter Sunday, no less).  For example, here is a nice appreciation of Mother Angelica by Bp. Robert Barron, himself the second most important evangelist in the world today (in my estimation) calling her the second most important evangelist of the late 20th century (also pretty accurate, I reckon):

I was honored with the chance to do her show once and she made an immediate conquest of me. She could whipsaw from being a sweet old lady (she took my hands in her soft grandma hands and graciously welcomed me, "Oh hello dear! It's so nice to meet you. How *are* you?") to being that tough nun who scared the daylights out of every third grader. Only she didn't take it out on callers. She took it out on priests and bishops who needed a little Catherine of Siena treatment from a tough nun with soft grandma hands. On the show I was on, a caller called in to talk to her (nobody wanted to talk to me, thank God). She told Mother that there had been a lay-led communion service at her parish, even though a priest and bishop were there.

Mother stared at the ground and clutched the arms of her chair as her face blackened. "I promised... I'd be... good!" she said quietly through gritted teeth. "BUT I'M GOING TO SPEAK MY MIND!" she exploded. "AND WITH YOU HERE!", she said, looking at me.

I was starled (knowing nothing of the woman but her soft grandma hands) and thought. "It's your show, Mother. Knock yourself out", but said nothing.

Then she ripped into the priest and bishop to the effect that they should be working themselves to death saying Masses and not allowing any of this lame communion service stuff. It was epic. I loved her. A character straight out of Dickens.

I remember another time a friend of mine (a puckish Lutheran who thought Mother was a delightful kick in the pants) wrote about watching her read through a list of New Agey titles for God from some kind of feminist liturgy thingie that somebody had reported to her. All she did was just read down the list and when she got to "Evening Warmth" she just looked into the camera and raised one eyebrow. I still giggle uncontrollably at the thought of it. She was a tonic in a time of liturgical silliness.

Somewhere I use to have picture of us taken after the show (sometime in 1994, I think). She was a pistol, a full-throttle disciple of Jesus, and as fearless as they come.  Not a bad epitaph for any person. Thanks, Mother A, for your guts. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.