As I waited for Mother Angelica to come through the door, I saw that the man standing
next to me had a gun.
It was just fifteen minutes before Mother and I were scheduled to spend an hour together on Mother Angelica Live!
They'd dusted my face with makeup and led me into the cramped corridor that connected Mother's monastery to the EWTN studio. The guard looked me up and down
and then stared right into my face.
"Why do you have a gun here?" I asked.
"These days, you can't be too careful," he said, relaxing his gaze, but resting his hand on his holster.
Indeed, not a hundred yards from where I stood, thugs had twice shot up the walls of Mother's convent, in a failed attempt to drive her and her nuns out of Birmingham. Mother said that one bullet landed so close to her she "could smell the gunpowder."
And she added with a chuckle: "You never saw a crippled nun run so fast in all your life."
In Raymond Arroyo's wonderful biography of Mother Angelica, Mother notes that: "Some people say I'm a woman of great faith. I'm really a coward who keeps moving forward."
To me, that sounds like courage, not cowardice.And it's courage she's shown for eight decades now despite abandonment, lack of education, bullets, bad bishops,
near-bankruptcy, asthma, injuries, operations, pain, scorn, criticism, and the spiritual bleakness that afflicts many of us who labor these days in the vineyard of the Lord.
That evening, it was a delight to be on live TV with Mother Angelica. Her quick wit, her frank comments, and her frequent laughter enlivened my talk about the Catholic books I've published by St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Catherine of Genoa, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and other holy men and women.
But she was motherly, too, admonishing her viewers as if they were errant teenagers: "You have to educate your conscience. You have to read and read and read! If you spend fifteen minutes a day reading, your whole life will change. So turn off that TV!"
And then she added mischievously, "Except EWTN, of course!"
During the station break, Mother asked about my work. Hoping to impress her, I said, "I started Sophia Institute Press with $100 and no publishing experience."
"Well how about that!" she responded, unmoved. "I started EWTN with $200 and no broadcasting experience."
Once the cameras were rolling again, Mother said to the audience, "John and I both started with nothing. And we're always asking for funds."
The live audience laughed, but I was embarrassed."That's true," I began slowly, looking at my hands as I sought the right words. "It's unfortunate. I apologize. . . ."
"Oh, don't do that!" Mother shot back loudly. "I don't!"She chortled, and the audience laughed along with her.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Another Riveting Appeal from Sophia Press
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