Three Lessons Mother Angelica Taught Me
By Jean M. Heimann
I was both saddened and joyful when I learned of the death of Mother Angelica on Easter Sunday, March 27. What a beautiful bride of the Lord! She offered her entire self to Him – body, mind, spirit, and soul. Now, I pray that she is rejoicing in ecstasy with Him for all eternity. Although I did not know Mother Angelica personally, I felt that we were the best of friends. She had that effect on people, not only with me, but with people all over the world. She was a down-to-earth, commonsense type of person who always spoke the truth. She was witty, feisty, funny, and sometimes a little over the top. She was herself and did not put on any airs and I think that is why we loved her. She was warm, empathetic, and very human.
I first heard about Mother Angelica in the ‘80s, shortly after I returned to the Church following a fifteen year absence. I heard that there was a cloistered nun who was appearing on TV who was really shaking things up in the secular world. She was blessed with holy boldness and was on fire for the Lord. I wanted to watch her programs, but they weren’t offered in my area. Then, in 1992, I began watching her program after I was married when I moved to Peoria, IL. It would come on for a little while in the afternoon, but then right in the middle of her program, another Christian broadcast would cut her off and begin their show. However, it wasn’t long before she had her own network and we were able to watch her programs all day and night long. Her programs touched my heart and nourished my soul.
During a period of pain, exhaustion, and illness, Mother was my constant companion. She taught me the value of suffering. Suffering was her constant companion and she was familiar with its purpose. Mother taught that “suffering in itself does not make us holy”, but it is only when we unite our sufferings with those of Jesus Christ that our pain has meaning. It has the power to save souls. Thus, I began to offer my pain as a prayer and unite my sufferings with those of Jesus Christ. Although I had been taught this many years earlier, it was Mother who reminded me of my important role in God’s kingdom at this time. While the world told me that I was a failure and my life was futile, it was Mother who encouraged me in persevering in God’s work and helped me to be hopeful.
Second, Mother Angelica taught me that even as sinful as I was, I could become a saint. She taught me the power of God’s merciful love and His graces which empower each of us to be holy. Through her discussion on the saints and the various EWTN programs on the saints, I learned that the saints were ordinary people like you and me who fought against the world, the flesh and the devil, and acquired great virtues through the graces given them by God. As they conquered sin and imitated Jesus in the everyday circumstances of their lives, the light of Christ shone brightly through them. Mother Angelica tells us: “Saints are ordinary people with the compassion of the Father in their souls, the humility of Jesus in their minds and the love of the Spirit in their hearts. When these beautiful qualities grow day by day in everyday situations, holiness is born.”
Third, Mother Angelica taught me by her example the importance of being actively involved in the New Evangelization. She was the new Bishop Sheen when it came to evangelization. However, Mother did not possess his degrees or his intellect. Instead, she offered her powerful love for God, her strong will and dogged determination to carry out God’s will in her life as her sacrifice. In fact, it was Mother’s example that encouraged me when I was physically weak to rely on the power of God and His graces to begin blogging over twelve years ago to go out into the world and spread the Good News.
Thank you, Mother Angelica, for the spiritual lessons you have taught me over the years. The best way I can repay you is to pass along to others what I have learned.
You can read Mother Angelica’s writings online HERE.
~ copyright Jean M. Heimann March 2016.