Tuesday, April 05, 2016

An Angry Nun - God send us more!



I have never watched EWTN, I don't do television, I have seen some clips of Mother Angelica. I don't know if she is a saint, as some have suggested. She just strikes me as being one of those feisty, even angry nuns we used to have, the type of nuns that set up hospitals and schools, orphanages and nursing homes, who were part of the first wave of women in Universities, who sought academic excellence, who weren't afraid to stand up to dictators, both secular and religious, who would be as unabashed by troop of Imperial or Nazi soldiers as they would by a class of third form girls.

Some people talk about emasculation of men in today's Church, I ask what about the women, where are they today? Why aren't they as feisty as they were? Why are they not like St Claire demanding their right to live in poverty, or St Catherine demanding the Holy See clean up its act? Where are the great founders who had the vision of sanctifying the poorest parts of our cities or like Theresa of Kolkata, as we call it now, the poorest parts of the world? 

What has happened to these women? My suggestion is that the old pre-Concilliar Church might well have been a stifling airless place waiting for John XXIII to open up a window or two but actually one man's stifling airless place is another's hothouse, a hot house that produced outstanding people with a deep a spiritual life and deep roots growing into the possibly foetid but rich compost. In order for any plant to bear fruit it needs to have stable roots.

Mother Angelica's legacy is her daring to speak out, to stand up and confront misused authority to demand her Church is given back to her. Mother speaks from a position of the common authority and common ownership that belongs to all Catholics. Her's is a simple faith, the faith of the Baltimore Catechism, the faith of everyman (and woman). She does what all Catholics should do, she demands to be given back her Church. I love that early video (see below) where she condemns 'the Liberal Church of America'. She is hopping angry and God used her anger, just the same as so often he uses the stubbornness of martyrs.

She does what monks and nuns and lay people have always done when bishops and priests - the experts - have tried to steal the faith, she rose up, she shouted in the streets, she denounced, she shouted aloud, she demanded her Pastors fed the sheep not on their own theological or pastoral experiments but on the Catholic faith. The terrible thought I have is that instead of shouting aloud far too many Catholics now remain silent and leave by the back door. Mother Angelica formed a mob, at least in the media, and demanded the faith. The faith is too important to be left to the heirarchy it needs charismatics like Mother Angelica and the angry people in the Church to create a necessary tension.

What Mother Angelica did is intensely traditional, it is very much part of the prophetic monastic tradition, it is what St Anthony and the monks of Egypt and Palestine did, emerging from the desert 1700 years ago, to denounce Arianism, so happily embraced by the bishops and the higher clergy.

In these new times of madness, may the dear Lord send us thousand angry Mother Angelicas.



29 comments:

Jacobi said...

The pre-consilar lay Church was not stifling. Confidant, relaxed, but a bit naïve as we now see in retrospect.

I remember two occasions sitting chatting on the wooden stairs outside Mass, once at University, because the church was packed, and at my first Mass in Ireland, talking to the local men and going in with them at the “Offertory to the Priests Communion” to join the women who of course were in all the time. Not ideal perhaps but better than the un-Catholic, shambolic participating chaos we have today.

I suspect Mother Angelica would not have been at all unhappy at these two Masses nor would my 17th or 12th or 7th century Catholic ancestors have noticed anything worth commenting on!

The 12th century lots would have been discussing the progress of the current Crusade, just as I suppose we soon will be again?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jacobi, Its an Irish thing, I remember reading St Columba rarely came to Mass before the Gospel, 'even when he was the celebrant!' Quite what that means I don't know, lost in Celtic mysts.

Scott Woltze said...

Bravo! A great meditation--or manifesto?

Woody said...

As a young lad who attended Catholic school before Vatican II, I can agree that when it comes to "angry nuns," you had better do what they say or face the terrible consequences! God rest her soul, that beautiful Mother Angelica.

William Tighe said...


"This paper has suggested that St Columba and his fellow abbots were not late for Mass, but that, even though Columba was to be the celebrant, they worshipped with the bulk of the congregation outside the Church until after the Gospel - almost the last moment before the act of sacrifice was to be performed ..."

"Kerry and Stowe Revisited," by J. W. Hunwicke, *Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy,* Dublin, Volume 102C, Number 1, 2002, p. 9.

Fr Ray Blake said...

William, Thank you, I always wondered about how the Stowe Missal actually worked in those tiny Celtic churches. I mean the host broken into 80 plus fragments, in a space that would have held a maximum of ten very lean ascetic and upright monks.

TLM said...

Mother Angelica was magnificent!! Yes, she was ANGRY with the dissent she witnessed happening around her. 'According to her, her precious Lord was being attacked' (as I have heard many personalities of EWTN say), and there was no way she was going to sit back and allow that to happen without publicly defending Him! She was afraid of NO ONE, and she would report the ONLY thing she was afraid of was not doing enough for the Lord. She was also compassionate and gentle with the people, you could see her entering in to their troubled lives with so much love and compassion with the callers to her program. Almost like she 'took on' their circumstances. She was DYNAMITE and a true Lioness for God in His true Church! She was also a Mystic. I do believe that some day, she will be canonized.

And....you are correct Fr., we need a thousand or more Mother Angelica's! Lord, send us more!

Bernard Fischer said...

It would be wrong to consider Mother Angelica first and foremost a hammer of heretics. She had her moments, especially later in life, but most people would primarily remember the folksy, humorous way she had of passing on the faith. She'd make a wise crack every once in a while about liberals and "the electric Church" (you get a shock every time you go), but she wasn't a demagogue. She was mostly concerned with saving souls by spreading the joy of the Church.

Other than the linked video, I can think of the Mahony incident and a show she did one time about Christmas and maybe one or two others that was pretty harsh, but those were notable for their rarity. Most of her shows were simple explanations of whatever doctrine was on her mind. The only time she got really serious was when it came time to calling people to return to confession, or trust in the Lord. Very often someone would call in with a tragic personal story. She'd either have to convince the caller that life was still worth living, or she'd help the caller understand how God could allow such things. Those were touching and powerful.

You are correct. We need 1000 more like her. Our world has traded leadership and values for cheap populism and emotion.

lazylyn said...

I think St. Augustine of Hippo put it plainly when he said: ' Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.
Dear God please send us more Catholics like Mother Angelica.

Mark said...

Mother Angelica was a down-to-earth religious of the people. Her humilty, her common touch won thousands of hearts and minds back to the faith, including my own. She was an ambassador of the New Evangelization and did it with a light, orthodox manner. She was the modern day female version of Fulton Sheen. Sadly, she was unique and irreplaceable.

Mona Lisa said...

Beautiful. Mother Angelica makes me feel secure. Thank-you, Mother for showing us what it is to be truly Catholic. Catholicity is reality.

David O'Neill said...

From Catholic education pre-Vatican 2; it wasn't only the nuns who were feisty. I was taught by priests & received a culture shock when expecting avuncular parish clergy I was faced with large men in black cassock & flowing academic gowns who stood (in the main) for no nonsense whatever and rejoiced (well we did) in nicknames such as 'Pop So & so', 'Basher So & so) etc but, boy, did we learn our subjects & (more importantly) our Faith. God bless Mother Angelica & all priests, brothers & nuns like her

TLM said...

Oh, and BTW, it was at the point of this video when she castigated the 'Church of Nice' for their dissent that she put into practice the 'Traditional Habits' for her order.

Jacobi said...

May I suggest Father it is possibly clear, (Columba that is ) as I observed at last Sunday's New Mass. The priest was spare until the Gospel and then the “Offertory to the priest's Communion”, etc.

If he had important things to do, as St Columba no doubt had, it seems quite logical to me.

By the way at a second Mass we went to in Ireland circa 1985, as opposed to the earlier one 1972, there were no men in or out and the priest rushed past us afterwards and disappeared off in a cloud of dust to his next Mass.

Paul Geers said...

I liked Mother, she said it as if she was Bishop Sheen, yes a female Bishop Sheen and some day, maybe the church if SHE wakes up, will make Mother a Doctor of the church too.
I served mass now 50 years, yes a server, I did not like it in 1966 when the changes were starting and placing the card table altars in place, as !I told the priest then, "Father I don't like this" and he said, We have to do what the Pope wants! He never said it at all, it was the dam Bishops who ruined the church, the school sisters ruined the catholic school system and now look what we have?
for about 20 years now, I have attended now the TLM, I have to reason to go back to that NO mass.
I gave a talk once, and said. "if you get on a bus and pay and sit down what would happen if the bus driver would look at you instead of the looking forward with you?? a large reck!! yes 50 years of a reck, less vocations, less role models, and less religion, its like a good feeling and forget who the church was home to, Our Lord, no we have a priest playing show facing you and changing the words and asking now, "where is everyone from? who give s a dam about that. The dam priest and nuns went crazy,
God Bless Mother, she was wise and knew what I was talking about too, I still say Good Luck, and helping souls to hell since 1970 with the current church affairs

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am not sure that what happened in 6th century Irish liturgy is clear to anyone. What happened in the Roman Rite before the Gregorian reforms isn't that much clearer, nor what happened in the Gallican rites.

Sixupman said...

I only recently viewed a couple of the Mother Angelica 'clips'and was amazed. Here was a nun who enunciated Catholicism which was intelligible to the unacademic, presented in a laid-back manner.

I think Franciscus, for his "Year of Mercy", has entreated Catholics to develop plans for practical 'corporal works of mercy' - opening old folks homes, hospices, et al. I haile from a North of England city where as late as the 1950's, with a population of circa 50K, it had two very substantial 'homes' run by nuns; another for mentally challenged women; a private school; and other nuns in education. It was an anti-Catholic city, where such was preached from the market cross. By mid-1960 it had boasted three major churches, plus two others. All the social work was abandoned to The State, one of the 'homes' left to rot, the other a boarding school. Nuns played a major part in both city and environs, with a beautiful enclosed convent also closed and sold to developers. People have short memories, Mother Church was not invented by Vatican II, but to some/many it was.

My current diocese seeks to close a great number of churches and presbyteries and sell-off the same to developers. It seeks, not to promote vocations, but to deal with the problem by the permanent diaconate. Many of the presbyteries are extremely large - surely they could be utilised for social purposes and managed by Church laity, even housing Christian refugees.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

‘We can be sure to expect that in our own lives there will come a time when we must make a choice between being loyal to the true faith or of giving allegiance to something else'. Not an 'Angry Nun' but Servant of God Fr Emil Kapaun who died in the Korean War and who was born exactly seven years (1916) before Mother Angelica (1923), both having 20 April as their birthday. Fittingly for a future priest he was born on Holy Thursday and, fittingly, Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday. I see in both of these events what I call the 'thoughtfulness' of God. I'm not sure of the context of Fr Kapaun's words but he is an outstanding example of what we priests are called to be. And while in a North Korean prison camp his example led to an anticipation of the ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue that came out of Vatican II - American soldiers in that camp, Catholic, Protestant and Jew, prayed the Rosary together every day becaue of Fr Kapaun's example. [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE1lvmllvCw ]. He made his choice with his life.

The Guild Master said...

Her comment at the beginning of the video about JPII being a 'holy man' rings rather hollow in light of the recent revelation of correspondence between him and a married woman.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

The link to the video that I gave in my comment about Fr Kapaun doesn't seem to work above. Here it is again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE1lvmllvCw

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Father Ray ... S Columba never entered the church before the Gospel, because the earlier part of the Mass was done outside the tiny church with all the people. Entering the church was like, in the Byzantine rite, going behind the iconostasis!

What you read was in a paper of mine published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy a few years back.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Hunwicke,
Yes, the little church at Kells is so tiny, it suggested to me not so much of Byzantine liturgy but of the Jewish priest entering the Holy of Holies.
I apologies if I did not give you the recognition you deserved, I just couldn't remember where I heard of St Columba being late for Mass. Looking back on your blog posts about the Stowe Missal, http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=stowe, I see where I got it, alas not in your original paper!

Fr Ray Blake said...

TGM,
If you bothered to read these letters, rather than the foolish reports in the secular press about them, you might see something of profound holiness, chastity and beauty. There are too many deviant Catholics who are incapable of recognising Grace for what it is, with such perverts no wonder the Church is in such a state.

Thomas said...

With regard to St. John Paul II's recently publicised letters, even the utterly secular and cynical BBC admitted that not only is there absence of any evidence of any wrong doing, there is clear and positive evidence of a chaste and spiritual love. That's why they lost interest in the matter so very quickly; nothing for them to crow about. Honi soit qui mal y pense!

John Nolan said...

The most famous person born on 20 April was, of course, Adolf Hitler. He was born in 1889 in Braunau am Inn on what was in that year Holy Saturday. Coincidentally, on Holy Saturday thirty-seven years later, Marktl am Inn (only 20km away) was the birthplace of Joseph Ratzinger.

Éamonn said...

Fr Blake, I've managed to find a copy of Fr Hunwicke's RIA paper on Stowe and Kerry; if it's of interest I could send it on to you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Éamonn, Please do, I have wanted to read it ever since I remember him mentioning it.

William Tighe said...

I've already photocopied a copy, and sent it off to fr. Blake.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you William