December 23, 2005

All About Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN

Recently I have received notification that my original essay for the Mother Angelica Book Contest made me a winner, and so I will share it with all of you. Feel free to weigh in your opinions, but keep it harmless!

It is 6:59 p.m., with only 30 seconds before the airing of another of Mother’s Live Classics. The sun is starting to set, leaving bands of red, orange and pink streaming across the sky. The pine forest is darkening, and crickets are chirping, frogs are croaking and dogs are resting from the hot, humid day. I arrive in my bedroom, after eagerly climbing every other step of the stairway. There is a prevailing sense of excitement, and yet the feeling of peace in the Lord’s presence is shared with it.

This is the typical Tuesday evening for a Catholic teenager who had just moved away from his hometown of 17 years, away from the friendliness of a Catholic high school and a parish named after Holy Father St. Francis. He came to his weekly lesson of the Faith, of its morals and of living his life in Christ, all taught by a living saint known by the name of Mother Angelica. He is beside himself with the amazement that she didn’t complete a single credit hour in college, and yet that was one of the reasons why she became so learned. It was not in the knowledge of the world that she dwelled, but it was the holy Trinity that gave her the abundant graces necessary to reach the ends of the earth as a global beacon of the Light of Christ.

Which is why I am so inspired to follow her lead in life, prayer and service to God. Our Lady said “Yes” to cooperate with God’s will and give birth to the Savior of mankind. Two thousand years later, the humble Rita Rizzo answered “Yes” to the Lord and eventually, as it were, gave birth as Mother Angelica to the “Network of Miracles” (and the name did have a purpose, because she had to bear the crosses of keeping the Christ child alive, you could say). But the miracles not only allowed the network to keep on running and extend its reach, they also helped me keep on running in my relationship with the Lord. If He did not send the gift of Mother’s life into the world, it would have been that much more difficult for me to do the above in my own life.

When I look into her life and think of the many things she has done for the Lord (and continues to do, even in her infirmity), the one observation that comes to mind is her unwavering trust in Divine Providence. She knows that with the grace of God and the will to trust in Him, she can go against all odds to do His will. For me, her example of holiness inspires me to do the same, especially while we are both living in the Bible Belt. And even though she can barely speak right now, she continues to show that all things are possible through God. Her message at the 25th Anniversary Kickoff Show was simple, yet profound; it spoke volumes about her wish for every soul to be united together in love, faith and prayer. And she has certainly done so, from the building of her monastery to the successful coverage of World Youth Day 2005.

Mother Angelica is one of the many blessings in my life, even though I have known of her for only a year. Given everything that I know about her, I am in such awe and wonder of Divine Providence. No words could fully express my gratitude for her, an extraordinary nun doing extraordinary things for His sake. But I have this to say: I thank her for giving us the powerful means to grow closer to God, for her tenacity in carrying out her global mission, and for her first “yes,” the fiat that saved souls.

September 26, 2005

Storms in Our Lives

Time after time, I heard the passage of the Lord's control over the storm at the Sea of Galilee. I inherently understood, through contextual study of the passage, that Jesus can help me through the trying times if only I turn to Him. It wasn't until Thursday, however, that I was able to really give it a try.

On Thursday night (around 10:20), my family and I finally made what was normally a 2-hour trip to the safe haven of northwest Houston, the base of my grandparents' house. We were hampered after boarding up windows and consolidating our invaluables for the first time. Even as a seasoned carpenter, my dad couldn't gather any more thought as to how to best divide and cut the available plywood for any possible window protection. So, with a pad, a pencil and some proactivity, I jump-started his thinking and skills to work again, and we fortified what we thought were going to be the most hard-hit spots on our house. I almost felt like a hero, someone who actually applied his geometry and algebra skills to save a window (and an entire house)!

Then comes something familiar to all of us evacuees: an interminable moment staring at the bright tailights of the next unit in the record-breaking exodus. We were blessed enough, at one point, to be moving a couple feet every few minutes--as opposed to every few hours--down the road, one carlength closer to our destination (Even this kind of progress may demand the patience of a dear saint, but we weren't a part of the hundreds of thousands on the major highways that were cooped up for hours on end). And, of course, almost every gas station I saw literally looked like a rest stop, with little hope for a tanker to give fuel to starving 4-wheeled machines... all while the Wicked Witch of the West was creeping up on us.

Right around that time, and when we arrived at my grandparents', did I begin showing -- and feeling -- fear. I relayed the worst details of the storm (175 mph wind, 897 mb of pressure) to almost everyone I knew within earshot. I began to suffer marked lightheadedness which I never before felt. In all of this, however, was a sign: I had this physical suffering to offer up to the Lord. So I began to seek shelter in the arms of Our Mother of Sorrows, through one decade of the Holy Rosary, and prayed not only for the protection of our temporal home but for the Holy Spirit to remain in me during these trying times. And indeed it has.

My prayer may have helped to steer the hurricane away from the Bayou City, but my house would still be in the "dirty side." Over here in Magnolia, the storm just gave us no more than a couple of inches and 25+ mph winds. I felt safe here. Would I have to feel safe here for another week or two? As it turned out, my school was one of the last in the area to resume after just that long a break, so I did stay, but not without much anxiety. I would not come to see the condition of my house until the second week after landfall.

June 2, 2005

Last Day of Classes, First Day of My Life...

My friends, this is a glorious day we are living in, and as we temporarily recess from the world of Catholic school society I want to remember Mother Seton, the holy founder of our Catholic school system. She has not only been an inspiration to countless school administrators, for her role was important in her time, and it was greatly needed. Now it is needed more than ever in the modern world as we continue to struggle in our search for the truth.

In a few days I will make the journey through the Desert Southwest toward the home of my living family. The adventure will be a very long one, but it's nothing to compare with the journey of life which, in the lifetime of the world, is only a snap. I will describe the journey at a later date, whenever the time comes...