National Catholic Register

Books

You’ve Read Her Story, Now Pray Her Prayers

BY Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

November 21-December 4, 2010 Issue | Posted 11/11/10 at 2:17 PM

 

THE PRAYERS AND

PERSONAL DEVOTIONS OF MOTHER ANGELICA

Introduced and edited by Raymond Arroyo

Doubleday, 2010

193 pages, $17

To order: randomhouse.com


Mother Angelica is known to millions worldwide for her spunk, indomitable spirit and orthodox presentation of the faith, often made highly palatable by humor.

The Prayers & Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica is the fourth book in Raymond Arroyo’s canon about the Poor Clare nun who founded the Eternal Word Television Network.

“She’s such an incredible witness to the faith and a lighthouse for so many people,” Arroyo said recently in an interview.

Arroyo, who is a friend of Mother Angelica, is news director and anchorman of EWTNews.

“People marvel at what she was able to accomplish,” he said. “Here’s a woman abandoned by her father, her mother was emotionally distressed and challenged — who overcame all of that and poverty, and a terrible academic history, to raise what is today the largest religious media empire on the planet.”

“I think she was a simple discarded girl, with her illnesses and human flaws, and yet in the end, this is who God trusts — and he trusted her because she trusted him,” he added.

After working directly with Mother Angelica to write the first book, Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles, Arroyo dedicated the next five years to collaborating with the nuns to craft three more books about the feisty, award-winning nun. He considers the subsequent books, including the latest, an extension of the biography. Reading these books “is like having Mother Angelica as your spiritual guide,” he said.

“This last piece of the puzzle is her personal prayers and devotions,” he explained. “How did she pray to God?” To enlighten us, Arroyo painstakingly delved through tremendous volumes of notes and prayers he discovered in archives and compiled much of it into this book. “There was this mountain of material that no one had ever looked at,” he said.

This is the final book Arroyo will write about Mother Angelica, he said, but admits that one truly never knows.

Filling the pages are Mother Angelica’s devotions prayed over a period of 70 years. Additionally, Arroyo, with Mother’s permission, included her entire diary written during a dark period in 1984 to aid others who struggle or experience feelings of abandonment or despair. Mother was “struggling for life, pleading for love” during that time, Arroyo explained. “Not [for] a consolation, but pleading to understand her own lack of love.”

On July 26, 1984, Mother wrote: “My soul is in such turmoil. My imperfections and weaknesses seem to be bursting within me and exploding on every side. I fight for the least good thought. I struggle to pray. Every prayer is separated by tons of aggravating thoughts, turmoil, and distress. It is like picking roses amidst a garbage heap.

“My world seems to have fallen apart — I am devastated — I am alone in the midst of many. I am desolate in the midst of those who love me. I am abandoned in the midst of loving friends. So many say they love me, and yet my soul stands by and feels only cold wind that dissipates all the warmth that comes from the words ‘I love you.’”

Mother Angelica continued to perform her shows and offer spiritual consolation to many as she suffered silently.

“Mother Angelica was acutely tied to God’s will and seeking his will always in prayer. Few of us do that well,” Arroyo said. He believes that “this book is really a very personal guide that leads you through that process.”

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, host of EWTN’s “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms,” is at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.