CATHOLIC PewPOINT:

Expectant Faith means to expect anything from the "Lord of the Unexpected."

     Probably few editorials have been more joyous to write than this one. It regards the wondrous, miraculous and glorious news of Mother Angelica's healing experience last Wednesday night in her tiny office at EWTN headquarters in Irondale, Alabama. It is truly beautiful that we can detail this, present the account to our readers on the special feast of the PRESENTATION OF THE LORD for He was presented in the temple by Saint Joseph and the Blessed Mother of God. The latter special lady played a significant role in this miraculous healing experience as Mother affirms through the power of the Rosary and the fact Our Lady visited the "healing conduit" - an Italian woman - during this miraculous process. "Incredulous," are what so many are saying regarding this miracle. But when one considers the Source of this miracle, it reminds us of Father John Hampsch, C.M.F.'s explanation of "expectant faith" in his column in the Daily CATHOLIC - "KEYS TO LIVING GOD'S WILL." For it truly is God's Will that Mother Angelica continue her courageous campaign to uphold the True Light of Faith in a country and world where materialism, modernism, schism and the culture of death have taken a choke hold on civilization. With the venerable Mother Teresa having left us last year, there remain only two truly visionary and highly visible luminaries left in the Church today - they are, of course, Pope John Paul II and Mother Angelica. Oh, there are many great cardinals such as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Cardinal John O'Connor,, etc. and many good bishops such as Cardinal-to-be Francis George,OMI, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop John Myers, and many, many more to name just a few, and countless good priests too innumerable to mention along with thousands of lay apostles who have done so much to perpetuate the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, but the comander-in-chief remains our Holy Father and his chief general - platoon leader if you will, remains Mother Angelica who takes all the supreme pontiff decrees and does all in her power to disseminate the information globally, enforcing it with the "weapon of love" - the Rosary of Mary, our Mother and patroness of the United States of America.

      Therefore, is it any surprise that God wants his special emissary Mother Angelica to be anything less than at full strength? He wants her to be a powerful witness to all that He shall give us as well as all He shall wrought when the great cleansing comes at the end of this millennium. Mother, in her own words confirms this: "I never asked for healing. Never. Because I was convinced that that was an apostolate for me, that that was a kind of mission to give people who are cripple and people who are ill courage." She gave credence that God had a method to his "madness" in allowing Mother to be healed when she testified on Jeff Cavins' live program Life on the Rock last Thursday evening, that she told the Lord silently while praying the Rosary, "I've born these crutches and pain for all these years for Your honor and glory in hoping it would give courage to those in the same position. But if there's another witness You want, then I am more than willing to be healed."

     And healed she was - totally! For forty years Mother has suffered various pain and crippling ailments resulting from an accident in Ohio over four decades ago. In fact, while recovering from the accident and six months of traction in a hospital, the doctors recommended surgery to try to correct the crippling spinal alignment. They told her there was a chance she would never walk again. That night, before the surgery, as she recounts in her own biography, she had a very restless night. When sleep would not come early before dawn, she silently asked God, "You didn't bring me this far just to lay me out on my back for life. Please, Lord Jesus, if you allow me to walk again I will build a monastery to Your glory. And I will build in the South." She did walk again, but not without the necessary means of leg braces, crutches and a back brace, and she did keep her promise and built not only a monastery but an icon of truth in the form of EWTN network. But during these last forty years she suffered immeasurably from the pain for she was allergic to any pain-killing medicine and so bore the brunt of the often intense pain and discomfort. Until Wednesday night that is, when God evidently deemed, in His Time, that Mother had suffered enough and had fulfilled all He had asked of her over these forty years. He sent a blessed woman who had to "bug" Mother for a few moments of her time. Mother, no matter the pain, has always been busy and this past week was no exception with her shows and the extraordinary coverage EWTN gave to the Holy Father's historic visit to Cuba which was broadcast over the cable channel as well as the internet which we linked all our readers to during that time. She finally gave this unknown, but determined woman an audience in her small office at EWTN after Mother had finished her Wednesday night show, "Mother Angelica Live." The woman, evidently an Italian, asked Mother if they could pray the Rosary together. Mother recounts that since she didn't know English, Mother suggested they pray it in Latin. This they did and while they prayed the Blessed Mother spoke to the woman, evidently a locutionist. She told the woman that she and her Divine Son were most happy with Mother and all she had done, but they cried for so many priests and religious who were not striving to do God's Will. The woman relayed this to Mother and asked her to take off her braces. Reluctantly Mother did. The woman began praying the fourth glorious Mystery in Italian and while reciting it Mother began feeling a sensational heat in her ankles. Through Divine guidance, the woman knew what was happening and asked Mother to try to walk. Mother recalls that her legs, which hitherto would have gone "all wiggly" started straightening out and the ankles began gaining strength. By the time they had completed the Rosary she could stand and, yes, walk without the aid of the crutches or braces, which included the one for her back. The feeling could be summed up in one word according to Mother, "awesome!" It wasn't long before word spread like wildfire throughout the EWTN complex and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. All were aghast, almost incredible at this supernatural event that had happened in Irondale that night. By now Mother was walking, almost running to show those "doubting Thomases" who sought her out that it was indeed true. All who witnessed her miraculous recovery truly gave credit where it belonged - to God and His Merciful Love. We can't help but think that by the time Mother finally got to bed that evening, she was exhausted but equally exhilerated and thankful.

     Early the next morning, as had been her custom for over forty years, upon rising, she instinctively reached for her crutches and brace by the door of her room. To her amazement, total joy and extreme thanks she found where the crutches had been, two roses. They had been placed there by one or more of the sisters out of pure love and gratitude. That morning in the chapel of the Holy Angels, the sisters took the braces and crutches and placed them on the small altar behind the main altar, offering them to the Almighty in loving thanksgiving for this miraculous gift He had manifested on Mother, those at EWTN and all of the faithful.

     We have detailed the "how" of what happened. Tomorrow, in this same column, we will analyze the "why" of what happened. God's gift of healing Mother Angelica is truly a sign to all. It's not the first time and it won't be the last, but as Mother said, "I can't say I desired it and I can't say I had any faith it would be or not be. I just wanted the Lord to maybe have a new witness." Today, through God's Love and Mercy, Mother is that new witness and encourages all of us to do the same. Expectant Faith means to expect anything from the "Lord of the Unexpected."

Michael Cain, editor

February 1998