Mother went from making and selling fishing lures, to roasting and bagging peanuts for sale. She was ready when the reforms of Vatican Council II were brought to the diocesan level. She had been a visionary ahead of her time, anticipating the need for reforms within her own religious vocation as the Church moved forward into the latter part of the 20th Century. In the decade of the 70's Mother Angelica was given a special grace by Almighty God. A priest had come to the Monastery and begged to pray over Mother Angelica. Wishing to have the young priest gone, Mother allowed him to pray over her. When he was finished, he left, and Mother smiled and went about her work. Then, struck down by a cold, Mother was in her room at the Monastery when, in reading the Gospel of St. John, she felt the overpowering presence of the Holy Spirit. She received the Holy Spirit, and was unable to share her experience for at least six months. Only then did she speak of it to her fellow sisters, and she took them, one by one, to pray over them. Each received the power of the Holy Spirit in their individual ways. From that point on, Mother began to realize that many people were leaving the church because of this overshadowing by the Holy Spirit. Unable to find an outlet for such empowerment within the Church, many drifted away seeking the experience rather than the Spirit. Mother then began to teach and preach to the people, starting with her own monastery.
The speaking and teaching aspect to which Mother Angelica was drawn by the Spirit were translated into booklets, which were printed outside the Monastery. Her more than 250 talks wre recorded on audio cassette, then transcribed into booklets which were disseminated throughout the country, and eventually throughout the world. When the costs of printing became a real burden, Mother Angelica took the initiative, and bought a printing press. Henceforth, the teaching and renewal from the Holy Spirit would become a large part of the Monastery's work. To be an instrument of Our Lord was and remains the central heart of all Mother Angelica's work. She wouldn't want it any other way.
The innumerable miracles worked at the monastery have been told and retold through books and the medium of television. Nonetheless, it is not so much that Mother is a miracle as she is an instrument whom Our Lord chooses to use to evangelize to all the world. The sisters who surround Mother are as much committed to their religious vocation of Perpetual Adoration within the cloistered life, as they are to the printing and distributing of teaching literature, and through the broadcast medium of EWTN and WEWN radio. Without the belief of each sister, and their unceasing prayers, without the belief in Mother Angelica's own heart that she is but an instrument, nothing would have been accomplished. Mother would be the first to agree that the desires God places in our hearts are not idle thoughts, but real visions that only He can accomplish. It takes our faith and trust in Him to see the miracle in everyday life come to pass.
Eleven years after founding the Monastery in Irondale, Mother initiated her book Apostolate, beginning with a small printing press that today produces all of the books available through EWTN. Since 1973 over 15 million books have been distributed to 38 countries. But it was in 1981 when Mother would venture into an even broader range reaching millions in seconds when she founded the Eternal Word Television Network, the first Roman Catholic satellite cable network in the world. It began slowly then steamrolled into something beyond her wildest imagination but well in the plans God had for this never-say-die stout-hearted and stubborn nun.
Mother Angelica was permitted to leave her cloister to share her teaching and lessons in spirituality within the framework of organizations sanctioned by the Church. Out of this would begin her crusade to evangelize through the medium of television and radio. After one televison program in Chicago, Mother Angelica knew she simply "had to have one of those", meaning a televison camera and the means to broadcast. Back in Irondale, she was invited to film a segment for CBN. It was a tortuous process, but in the end she got the job done. The segment aired, and Mother was asked to do more, to make another sixty programs for airing. She agreed at once, but didn't have a clue as to how it would be done, or even paid for. She simply knew God wanted it done. She left the rest up to Him. With her own Sister Raphael, and the help of a laywoman, Jean Morris, she quickly got sixty segments on tape, and it seemed that overnight all of America was aware of Mother Angelica.
Another series, "In His Sandals" was undertaken. All went well until the filming of the seventeenth segment. It was at this time that Mother learned of the station's intent to air the controversial movie "The Word." The station manager declined her invitation not to show the film. Mother's response was simple and direct. She would no longer film her segments in his studios, and would not allow her series to be broadcast over the airwaves he controlled. It took all of her faith, and the faith of her nuns to begin this new endeavor of television broadcasting. The garage of the monastery became the new television studio. Bills mounted, with no visible way to pay them, but always at the right moment Our Lord provided for them. What began as an inspiration to spread the Gospel through the medium of television brought with it some of the most crushing criticism and back-stabbing that Mother had ever known, and the really tough part was the fact that the most vociferous criticism came from other Catholic communicators.
The obstacles Mother faced, those which she has spoken about, are well-known from her own live program. However, there are undoubtedly many other hardships and crisis that she has never spoken about, but which have nevertheless served to help her spiritual growth, the spiritual growth of her sisters in the Monastery, and the spiritual growth of the millions of viewers who support her broadcasts daily. Mother, herself, does not know why God has chosen her. She truly believs in her nothingness, and professes it honestly, as her honest soul commands of her. Still, she recognized the work of God through her, and leaves all the justification up to Him. As long as the Lord provides for the network, then that is the work to which she is called. There is no debate with Mother about anything else.
The EWTN network was blessed through the high office of Cardinal, in the person of Cardinal Silvio Oddi, then head of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy in Rome. He visited the Monastery, toured the buildings, saw first-hand the work of Mother Angelica and her nuns in having the only satellite broadcasting network in the Catholic Church. Cardinal Oddi blessed their work, and was their advocate when he returned to Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II. This was May 21, 1981. On August 15, 1981, Mother truly became a world figure in the broadcasting medium. Her name made headlines as she broke new territory for the Catholic Church in the 20th Century.
That same afternoon, led by Bishop Joseph Vath of the Diocese of Birmingham, the EWTN network was ready for dedication. Mother addressed all the visitors and dignitaries with a prayer she composed: "Oh God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, You alone have accomplished all we have done. May this first Catholic satellite television network be a tribute to the beauty of Your Church. May Your Son, the Eternal Word, be glorified through this work of your Hands. Bless all the programs that will issue forth from its facilities. Just as Your Word issued forth from You, Lord Father, may that same Word touch each heart that listens to this network. Let Thy Spirit work with freedom through every teacher who proclaims Thy truth and Thy Church. Bestow upon this network the power to inspire men to seek holiness of heart, zeal for the extension of Thy Church, courage to seek after Justice and human rights and patience to endure persecution."
A little over a year later, Mother Angelica's own mother, Sister Mary David, died on August 22, 1982 - the feast of the Queenship of Mary - after twenty years in the Monastery. Mother Angelica had her interred within the Monastery grounds, and to this day often goes there in prayer. Sister David is now the mother helping her daughter on earth to be a true mother to not only her nuns, but to all whom she reaches through EWTN.
New studios were needed and built, again with that same rock-solid faith in 1985. This has allowed EWTN to grow in excellence in proclaiming the Truth of Our Lord Jesus Christ's teachings through the Holy Roman Catholic Church. As Mother Angelica says: "Our goal is to serve the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church. By doing so we know we are doing God's will. Our network is built on faith and sustained by prayer." And she goes on: "I must be God's donkey pulling this load for a while," she often repeats. "When God shows us what to do next, well, we will just move on to whatever that is. Imagine! God using me!"
Yes, God is using Mother Angelica in wonderful, often mysterious ways. Those who are regular viewers draw comfort and strength not only from the informative programming, but also from the daily Mass televised from the Monastery Chapel. There, through the television, we are permitted to see the Mass, the Novus Ordo, said and participated in as the Vatican Council II really mandated, and not the watered-down liturgy that is more than likely, the weekly offering in most parishes through the United States. Truly a cloistered, contemplative nun, Mother Angelica remains ever obedient to the Will of God, and loses nothing of her contemplative nature as she faces the camera lens that all the world might know the glory of the Kingdom of God.
In 1987 there was a need to add Brothers and Priests to the mix, both in the preaching and carrying out of the ministry of EWTN and serving the spiritual and temporal needs of the monastery and EWTN. Thus Mother, with all the necessary permissions, founded an active religious institute of Brothers and Priests as the Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Three years later in 1990 she added to that circle by founding the Lay Missionaries of the Eternal Word. That same year she began developing WEWN, the world's largest, privately owned international short-wave radio station whose signal expanded far and wide. It was launched in 1992 and in 1995, on the Solemnity of the Assumption, EWTN went bilingual sending its microwaves out to 42 countries in Central and South America as well as most of Europe and Africa. The network had truly become international.
But there was another horizon to turn to and that was to the web where she authorized going on-line in 1995 with www.ewtn.com which since has become the "Cartier of Catholic sites" under the astute, reverent and creative expertise of knowledgable computer professionals. In January 1996, she was able to purchase the vast library of Catholic documents, the largest online collection at the time, from Trinity Communications on the East Coast. In March of the same year Mother spearheaded the expansion of broadcast radio service for AM/FM radio stations that were also added to the internet site for all to listen to. Finally, in December 1995, EWTN expanded its coverage to the Pacific Rim and Australia in an effort to reach all four corners of the earth.
All of this was not accomplished, however, without trial and error. While there have been many trials, the errors have been few for Mother has always learned by her mistakes. One thing is for sure, she seldom ever makes the same one twice. If Mother says it, you can be readily assured it's fact, not fiction. That is another reason she has been such a thorn in the side of the liberal Catholic establishment in America and elsewhere. While many of the modernist bishops endeavored to put Mother "out of business" by authorizing, funding and trying to get their own Catholic network off the ground, it fizzled badly. Yet Mother's continues to flourish. What does that tell you? If it is from God nothing can stop it, though the bishops, even a few cardinals have tried. Most everyone is familiar by now of the well-publicized tryst between Mother and Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Archbishop of Los Angeles over his Pastoral Letter on the liturgy which in tone diminished the Blessed Sacrament and the role of the priest. Not only did his document lean toward the Protestant side in execution, but it went against many of the documents that have come out of Rome. Mother was quick to read between the lines and denounce it as bunk, just as she joined Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and other conservative prelates in dismissing the nebulous document by a few bishops on homosexuality entitled All our children. Despite threats from Cardinal Mahoney, Milwaukee's Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB, probably one of the most outspoken liberal bishops, and others of his leaning, they are powerless to curb or control Mother...not only because it was God's Will and Providence that has made EWTN what it is today, but also because His Holiness John Paul II heartily endorses all that Mother is doing as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Eternal Word Television Network and its radio division WEWN. The bottom line comes down to the fact that no matter what slings and arrows liberals have thrown at Mother, she always ends up on her feet because she is right!
Speaking of landing on your feet, Mother can once again walk without her leg braces and crutches, having again been miraculously healed last year in which she shared with viewers the experience, humbly saying that it was done to manifest the glory of God, not for her for she was unworthy of healing. But it was not lost on loyal Catholics that God chose to visit this miracle while Mother was embroiled with Cardinal Mahoney. While He also healed Cardinal Mahoney of prostrate cancer through surgery, the healing Mother experienced, in which a warmth came over her and a sense of total peace, had a greater impact in alerting to the world that God is not done with Mother yet. Time and again the Almighty has hammered the message through to those who would hinder Mother's progress in spreading Christ's Gospel and the true teachings of His Holy Church. That message, just as He protected Abraham and his seed by running interference, so also today on the brink of the new millennium: Her never back-down, persistent and determined character from her deep love of and gratitude to God to her fiery Italian roots sends out a clear message from above to all: Don't not mess with Mother!
For this frail Italian girl who struggled through school, she has exhibited the wisdom of Solomon, receiving six Honorary Doctorate Degrees and numerous awards from the prestigious Pro Fidelitate et Virtue Award presented by the Institute on Religious Life to the "Catholic of the Year" to the Franciscan Communicators Award to Communicator of the Year and Woman of the Year to name just a few of the nearly twenty she has received. But awards are temporal and Mother has always set her sights higher than temporal things, yet she has a grasp of society today and the declining moral values and anyone who has had the opportunity to watch her regularly on her immensely popular twice-weekly show "Mother Angelica Live" will attest to the impact she carries. In fact, nearly half of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY chosen by the voters have appeared on Mother's show. That's clout! While it has become practically a mantra of Mother's to remind all to keep EWTN in their prayers and remember Mother's network in their hearts by slipping a few bucks in between the Electric and Phone Bills to help keep Catholic Television alive and flourishing. From the fruits of Mother's efforts we can also surmise that God is keeping a special place in His heart for this obedient servant who dared to barter with God...and, because of her love for Him and determination to fulfill His Will, this deal-making nun has turned into one of His greatest disciples today!
Death of Pope Innocent IV, 180th successor of Peter. This celebrated canonist's papacy lasted ten and a half years. His election took place at Anagni after a two year vacancy. He called the 13th Ecumenical Council and instituted the feast of the Visitation as well as undertaking the 5th Crusade with Saint Louis IX, king of France.
Birth of Giovanni Bernini, the celebrated Italian sculptor of the baroque era, famous for monuments in St. Peter's Square and the statue of Saint Teresa in Ecstasy.
Pope Paul VI and the Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lift the mutual excommunication interdicts they had placed on each other in 1054, the year of the Great Schism of East and West.