Why the Stations of the Cross Were a Daily Devotion for Mother Angelica
The Stations of the Cross were very meaningful to the foundress of EWTN.
It is tradition for Catholics around the world to participate in the Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent. However, for EWTN foundress Mother Angelica, it was a daily devotion.
EWTN chaplain Father Joseph Mary Wolfe collected Mother Angelica’s spiritual guidance that she shared with him into a book titled Mother Angelica’s The Way of the Cross, published by EWTN Publishing.
In an interview with EWTN News Nightly, Father Wolfe discussed the inspiration behind the book, which features actual pictures of the stations then-Rita Rizzo (Mother Angelica’s given name) prayed in front of in her hometown of Canton, Ohio, before entering the monastery.
It was during a visit to St. Anthony’s Church, the church where Rizzo prayed the Stations of the Cross as a teenager in Canton, that Father Wolfe thought it “would be wonderful if we could take these actual stations that she prayed before and make them available to people.”
The Stations of the Cross were very meaningful to Mother Angelica. Father Wolfe recalled the advice she gave him when she encouraged him to pray the Stations of the Cross daily, “because she knew that I would find strength in that.”
“Life has troubles. Life has sufferings. It has difficulties,” he said. “So when we go to the Stations of the Cross, we’re reflecting on Our Lord’s sufferings but also his love and something of his strength, and his love is imparted to us.”
Mother Angelica herself experienced a variety of sufferings from her family’s breakup, her mother’s depression, the poverty she grew up in, and her own physical problems. Due to this, Father Wolfe said, “Mother could relate to people because she understood their sufferings.”
“Mother said to me one time that suffering was her companion that kept her dependent on God,” he said.
Father Wolfe recalled an interaction with a woman who was left debilitated after surgery on a brain tumor. “She said, ‘You know, I think the most important lesson that Mother left me ... is how to suffer, how to suffer well,’” he said.
Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday in 2016. Father Wolfe was with her during her last moments. He remembered the suffering she was in on the Good Friday before she passed. Together with caregivers and fellow sisters, he and the friars prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet with her at 3pm, which seemed to give her peace.
“There’s a crucifix that was in her room. And so I took that crucifix, as I had done many other times on Good Friday, and held it up to Mother. and she kissed it for the last time,” he revealed.
“She always wanted to kiss not the feet on the corpus, but the open heart.”
This story was originally published on CNA on March 17, 2022.
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