Mother Angelica: ‘It’s Exciting to Watch God Work in the Present Moment’
BOOK PICK: ‘In His Sandals: A Journey With Jesus’
IN HIS SANDALS
A JOURNEY WITH JESUS
By Mother Angelica, edited by Daniel Hopkins
EWTN Publishing, Inc., 2021
104 pages, $12.95
To order: EWTNRC.com or (800) 854-6316
In His Sandals, a book comprising six chapters drawn from early television programs of Mother Angelica that pre-date EWTN, provides spiritual lessons while using different selections from the New Testament in each chapter as a basis for the teachings.
It may be of interest to note that Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, has created a free online study guide for this book. But whether one reads the book as part of an online study or on its own, spiritual lessons await, drawing the reader to a closer following of Jesus, to be transformed by him, and in turn to bring his healing presence to the world (p. 29).
Throughout the book, one can recognize themes that are central to Mother’s spirituality, such as living in the present moment, the providence of God, and God’s loving and healing presence. At one point, the reader even comes across an oft-cited quote of Mother’s about being “willing to do the ridiculous” so that God can “do the miraculous” (p. 81).
While some of the themes, and even Mother Angelica’s voice “heard” in the book, may be familiar, readers familiar with Mother’s later appearances on EWTN Live are still likely to encounter new material. Among other things, In His Sandals has Mother share about the time she “went deaf for a few days” (p. 80), offer lessons from having a glass of water spill at night (pp. 44-46) and even give humorous advice on guests who stay too long (p. 6).
The book’s challenge to live the Christian life more deeply (p. 5) comes with all the newness of Scripture, calling to conversion and the deepening of spiritual life here and now. “I’m going to go through some of the Scriptures with you,” writes Mother, “so that these Scriptures become something alive and vibrant, something you live” (p. 5).
The book presents the encouragement of Scripture while calling for a mature living of the Christian life. For instance, the third chapter calls the reader, drawing from St. James, to see trials as a happy opportunity. This is no easy task, but as the reader is reminded, trials provide “opportunities to be like Jesus” (p. 43). The teaching in the first chapter includes the challenge to bring a spiritual understanding even to difficulties of life (pp. 10-12). (Of course, Mother Angelica’s down-to-earth style and characteristic humor assist in receiving such messages, both in 1978, when the programs were produced, and today.) Other lessons include a discussion regarding what humility is (and isn’t) and how even the “scraps” of one’s life, given to God, can bear fruit.
While the book is not specifically addressed to those who are elderly, Mother’s words of wisdom for senior citizens are particularly present in Chapter 6, which takes John’s Gospel on the Wedding at Cana as an opportunity to speak of the blessing and mission of old age. This chapter addresses how “[a]ge is a blessing from God, a great blessing” (p. 96) and reminds senior citizens about their “beautiful mission from God … to radiate the joy of the coming of the Kingdom” (p. 97).
On the occasion of Mother Angelica’s 100th birthday, it might be interesting to note how Mother Angelica speaks of her desire to live to 100 in this same chapter:
“If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s hope in the future. You see, you’re an image of the future. I hope I live till I’m one hundred. I don’t know how many other people wish I lived to be one hundred, but I do. Because I realize that with every moment I have in time, I can love God more, I can love my neighbor more. You see, it’s not a matter of whether you’re sick or not sick or whether you can do something or you’re famous or unheralded by the world or unknown by the world. That doesn’t matter. Those are frills. The thing that matters is my capacity to know God and love God” (p. 98).
Mother Angelica lived to be 92, and In His Sandals is an example of how her life continues to bear fruit today, reminding us of the opportunity we have to love God and neighbor more in this life and to bear witness to the reality of heaven (pp. 98, 101-102).
Join Father Joseph Mary Wolfe for an EWTN Online Learning Series, based on Mother Angelica’s book In His Sandals. Sign up for free at EWTN.com/inhissandals.
Laura Dittus holds a master’s in theology from Ave Maria University and has contributed to study guides for Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. I and II (Ignatius Press). She writes from Irondale, Alabama.