First of all, it's important to realize that for forty years Mother Angelica was a willing victim soul. She still is a victim soul in the sense that she bears all and suffers for the honor and glory of God and in reparation for the sins of so many. But with the miraculous healing a certain burden was lifted - the pain she endured from legs so weak she couldn't stand on them, from an aching back that mandated a firm brace to keep her vertebrae in alignment, not to mention the bulk of these braces. With the blessing of this miraculous healing, Mother realizes there is more God wants of her and He has made it possible through this Heavenly cure for her to be fully fit to tackle whatever the Holy Trinity desires of this dedicated and loyal Poor Clare nun who has built a Roman Catholic television-radio empire that now reaches around the world thanks to A/V on the internet.
Mother, who many EWTN workers affectionately refer to as a "holy hell-bent-for-leather nun with an Italian flare, wit and temper to match and who will not take no for an answer," has kept her end of the bargain as far as her promise to God is concerned and now God has kept His promise to her. But both Principles are not finished and that is the glorious part. Mother serves as a strong voice of reason for spiritual values, loyalty to the traditions of Holy Mother Church, and obedience by all Catholics - from laity to bishops - to adhere to what is taught. She's not afraid to take on the mighty, as she did recently in standing up to the Cardinal of Los Angeles and the abhorrent policies Roger Mahony is trying to establish in his Archdiocese of Los Angeles, not to mention his behind-the-scenes work to push them into other dioceses and become part of the "American Catholic" mainstream. The only problem is that Mahony's folly flies in the face of most of what Rome has decreed. Other bishops and cardinals kept silent, but not Mother! She has never been afraid of a confrontation when her beloved Church was the target. And God bless her for it! She has stood up time and time again for Christ and His Church and, true to His promise that all we need to do is "Knock and it shall be opened to you." the Holy Spirit has filled her with the right words at the right time. No one will know until we reach our Heavenly destination how many conversions Mother has wrought from her inspirational Mother Angelica Live show, not to mention the many other excellent programs on EWTN. With this kind of track record and the clout she wields, one might think she could lean to the feminist side, be more open to women becoming priests. But those who might even think that, shame on you. For Mother is a loyalist to the core. She expresses no ambition for higher office, no ambition to unseat others, but rather to see others "quit horsing around and get with the program" in regards to following the decrees of the Holy Father. She bristles, as do we, at the suggestion that this was changed or that was changed because of Vatican II. An avid student of the documents, she responds "rubbish" to these claims, knowing that it is a modernist alibi to avert obedience to Rome and forge their own agenda. Mother won't stand still for this and because she won't stand still, quite possibly that is another reason God freed her of her braces so she could move faster in catching these lost sheep and help herd them back into the fold.
Being a nun is never easy. It is a life of total self-sacrifice, giving oneself up completely to become a "Bride of Christ" - vowing to Him her complete self in body, mind and soul through the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. For Mother it has been tripple-tough, for not only did she give God everything when she made her vows, but she also accepted the excruciating pain God desired her to experience for the reparation of countless souls. Add to this that she was set on fulfilling her vow to God to "build a monastery for His honor and glory" in the South, an area that could not have been easy to negotiate what she had in mind. Add to this, that she became head of her monastery and therefore responsible not just for herself, but for the physical and spiritual welfare of the many postulants, novices and professed sisters. Add to this that with all this responsibility she undertook an even more ambitious one, building a television network out of nothing into a huge conglomerate that has defied all the experts that it could survive. But the millions of viewers have taken Mother's pert advice to put a donation "between the phone and the gas bill" to keep EWTN going. The rewards have been astounding though Mother does not receive one penny, vowed to poverty.
It is her vows that have kept her going and her faith and love for Jesus and His Blessed Mother, to whom she has an undying devotion. No one promotes the Rosary more than Mother, offering it four times a day on her network. The day and early morning one by Father Michael McDonough, who formerly worked at EWTN and whose devotional Rosary and meditations of the Mysteries rivals any other Rosary meditation anywhere, including the one by Father Mitch Pacwa in the evening which pales in comparison to Fr. Mike's traditional recital. It was the Rosary that Mother was praying the night she made her life-long promise to God that she would build a monastery for Him if she could walk again, and it was the Rosary she and an unnamed Italian lady were praying together when she first felt a heat in her ankles just prior to a total healing of her legs and back. She was quick to point out how important the Rosary is when she affirmed on Jeff Cavins's show Life on the Rock last Thursday night that, "It was during the Rosary that Our Lady came to this lady and that this [the healing] happened. People forget today that the Rosary is powerful for healing; powerful for inner strength. The Rosary is powerful for when you say the Rosary you take Jesus and Mary with you in the Mysteries. The Rosary is your weapon. We've heard it so often we don't hear it anymore. This healing - I think it's a witness to the power of the Rosary."
The Rosary has played a pivotal role throughout history and almost everywhere Our Lady has appeared she reinforces the Rosary, especially at Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje where she said on June 25, 1985, "I urge you to ask everyone to pray the Rosary." She repeated the urgency on July 30, 1987 when the Gospa conveyed, "Prayer is the only way to save the human race." Today Mother echoes Our Lady's call to pray the Rosary for each Hail Mary is a link forming the chain that will bind satan. In addition, each Hail Mary is a rose forming an unfathomable bouquet that Our Lady presents to the Father on our behalf. This special devotion to Our Lady honors her Divine Son and it is the same message imparted to Saint John Bosco over a hundred years ago when he was given the message and vision that we need to be anchored between the pillars of Devotion to the Holy Eucharist and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Mother firmly believes this, commenting that her healing is a "message to everyone - a sign for all of us that God can put it back together." She laments that , "We are crippled in our faith, in our hearts in love for Jesus and our love for His Mother, for the Eucharist. But if we trust again, if we can hope again, if our faith can grow again, that broken body will be healed. Say your Rosary. I believe that something wonderful for all of us is around the corner. I also believe that this is a sign for preparation - for an awakening of God's Love and existence." Yes, Mother's miraculous healing is a manifestion that God has a specific master plan, and we are definitely an integreal part of it!
In order to understand the situation in the world and the Church at this time in history, it is important to do a quick review before launching into the thirteenth century. During the twelfth century there had been great difficulties between Church and state as we have detailed in past installments, including many heated battles between Popes and Emperors, bishops and kings. The Holy Roman Empire actually was not holy nor was it Roman, and for that matter, existed in name only. What the great Charlemagne had begun had been obliterated by many of his successors. The Holy Roman Emperor was also the King of Germany and this was really the only power he held, making him similar to the kings of England, France and Spain, as well as Sicily. To offset his influence, the dukes and rulers of the various principalities and duchies in Italy formed a union known as the Lombard League. Since Charlemagne the agreement had been that the Holy Roman Emperor would be crowned by the Pope and that a new Pope would need the confirmation of the Holy Roman Emperor to rule. However, though it worked on paper, it was a miserable experiment in reality. Too often egos and power-mongering got in the way of protocol and so both parties began wavering in their commitment to this treaty. Many emperors, because of the prestige and power they thought they wielded, were unwilling to admit that their authority came from the Holy See. This became evident with the Hohenstaufen line that ascended the German throne in the early twelfth century where they would battle the Popes for nearly a century as we have detailed. The descending kings of Germany, seeing how the system worked in Constantinople where the Church was under the state, strove to establish the same in Europe but alas, Rome and the Holy See would have none of that. Though there were many weak pontiffs, even bad ones as we have exposed in past installments, there were strong ones who would not allow the "gates of hell to prevail against it." The King of England, a precursor of Henry VIII four centuries later, tried to usurp the power of the Church but met with the fierce resistance of loyal Saint Thomas Becket who gave his life at the foot of the altar for the cause of Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. There were other saints and disciples during these times who also stood up for the Church. On the other side of the coin there were many who opposed the Church as being "power hungry" and they aligned in the camp of what were called Ghibellines who sided with the Emperors. Those remaining loyal to the Church were dubbed Guelfs. As time went on they became two power blocs that turned into political parties, having nothing to do with spirituality or Church doctrine. Many good Catholics, because of their cultural upbringing and nationality, were Ghibellines and many Guelfs were pagan or lapsed Catholics, but so opposed the Emperors that they sided with Rome. Many of those belonging to these two parties often waffled, always using what was politically expedient for their own purposes. Thus, one country or principality might promote the Guelf viewpoint one month, and jump on the bandwagon of the Ghibellines the next and vice versa, depending on the political climate of Europe. Much as Republicans and Democrats switch back and forth, so did the Ghibellines and Guelfs. The political $64,000 question, though they did not have the dollar monetary system at that time, was: How much authority should the Pope have in temporal affairs and how much should the Emperor have in matters of the Church? Add to this consternation the constant rumblings and changes in leadership in every country, especially in Italy where one principality would rule one month and be overthrown the next, and confusion reigned supreme throughout the twelfth century.
It was into this atmosphere that Innocent III was thrust as a still-wet-behind-the-ears thirty-seven year-old supreme pontiff in early 1198. Without batting an eye, his first duty was to establish the Pope as master of Rome, much to the consternation of the nobles. It would take him a full decade to accomplish this but his resolve set a trend that did not go unnoticed throughout all of Christian Europe. At the same time, Innocent set out to recover much of the lands and possessions the German kings had confiscated from the Holy See. Though many Roman aristocrats were opposed because they had been paid to be loyal to the Hohenstaufen Emperor by being given positions of ruling power within each principality, they were overwhelmed by the vox populi as the citizens of Rome, dead set against German rule, sided with the Pope and overthrew any German influence in Italy. Meanwhile, with Henry VI now dead, the crown passed to Otto of Brunswick (or more specifically Nordheim), who was in a bitter struggle for the throne with fellow German Philip of Suabia. This enabled Innocent to be able to accomplish what he set out to do without interference from the King of Germany. In addition, Henry VI's widow Constance was still in Sicily as regent there and, realizing she was dying, entrusted the care of her young son Frederick to Innocent, personally assuring him that if he tutored and cared for young Frederick she would guarantee protection for the Pope in his battles. Assured of no resistance from the south, Innocent launched his reforms, recouping territories previously held by the Vatican and re-established principalities, taking them out of the hands of many nobles and installing a democratic rule where the people were given much of the say. The Romans rallied to his cause. For all loyal to the Pope, it was a glorious time as they welcomed in the thirteenth century - a century that would go down in Church annals as the "Century of Saints" as we shall see in future installments.
Next installment: Pope Innocent III the early years of the thirteenth century and his papacy
I will say now to my children that when you perform acts of Mercy for the mortal body, these merciful acts must come from your soul and heart. The soul, your supernatural life is that which must dominate at all times, spurring the weakness of human flesh to achieve great virtue - even heroic virtue.
Do you realize, my little children, that it is most certainly beautiful before the Throne of Almighty God when, out of your need, you give to those who are even in more need?
But there is so much more to this corporal work of Mercy. What you fail to realize, little ones, is that every day you perform this blessed corporal act of Mercy. You who are living alone and must prepare your own food—are you not performing a corporal act of Mercy because you are caring for your body as God Wills - for the body is the dwelling place of the soul which must be the Tabernacle for the Blessed Trinity. To those who are married, you repeatedly achieve this corporal work of Mercy when you prepare food for your family - particularly children whose demands and needs are many. Those who live in community are no less able to achieve this corporal work of Mercy.
But always, dear little children, this corporal work of Mercy should never be done out of gluttony, out of lavishness so that you lose control over your body, and its demands are ever-increasing causing food to become for you a god. You must strive to earn your daily bread, and to accept your portion with praise for God. As you prepare food thank God for all who have labored so it may be upon your table. Pray for those who will receive sustenance from the food, and pray always that God, Who Is Infinite, will procure food for all who have none. Never neglect to thank God, rather than thanking the large paycheck that allows you to pick and choose among the innumerable choices available too you.
I do solemnly say to all. Be satisfied with very little, for in this way you will never let your body be out of control. I solemnly tell you that it is proper to fast, to mortify your taste, because when you do soy procure Mercy for the countless souls who are truly starving. I repeat again: That time is close when you will find yourself grateful for even a crust of bread and a cup of water, and even then your heart should be filled with love for Almighty God.
Therefore, on this Feast Day, I beseech all of my children to pray with and from their hearts, and to fully live as my Divine Son taught you to love. When you live in His Will, you feed the hungry for Him, In Him, and Through Him. And He, Who Is God, shall take care of you in all things if you remain a humble, contrite, obedient servant.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
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February 3, 1998 volume 9, no. 24   DAILY CATHOLIC
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