Thursday, September 29, 2005

BBR: Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles

When I was in OKC on Monday, I stopped by the ultra evil Barnes and Noble. It is ultra evil because I can never escape without $50.00 worth of books under arm. So along with my DC Comics graphic novel (that's a comic book to you) and Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies (can you say "addiction" boys and girls? I knew you could), I snapped up a copy of Raymond Arroyo's biography of Mother Angelica.

Now, I must confess that I have some back history with the friars connected to EWTN. Several of the men went to school with me at Saint Charles. Fr. Anthony Stelten is one I am proud to consider my classmate even when he changed seminaries, but that is a WHOLE OTHER story. I have generally thought that a work like EWTN was needed in the Church and while I wasn't a fan of everything on the channel, I thought it was a good idea nonetheless. So when I heard about this biography, it lead me to want to find out more about the foundress. After all, the foundation tells you something of the shape of the future.

To be blunt, I could not put the book down. It was a lively and engaging read throughout. Arroyo's familiarity with Mother's life and story allows him to weave together event and meaning into a seamless quilt of a life. It was very edifying to hear of Mother's hardships, and how with God's grace, she was able to overcome. If I had to criticize the book, it would be on the point that it was a bit too in love with the subject. While Mother would not overlook her own faults, and called strong attention to them, Arroyo would on occasion tend not to get past the surface appearance. A good example of this would be the recounting of the conflicts she had had with Bishop Foley of Birmingham, AL. Looking at the events, you could see how the conflict was really two-sided in a way, but Arroyo's presentation came off, I don't know if intentionally, as though everything was the bishop's fault. But again, it's a minor flaw. It doesn't discredit the book; it is the flaw of a friend telling the story of a friend. We naturally tend to take their side.

On recommending this book to the blog readers, I want you to get from it what I got from it. Mother Angelica's life looks at how suffering and lowliness are not obstacles to the holiness God calls us to. Suffering and lowliness are its seedbed. I found myself encouraged and emboldened to "get back to work!" Maybe this explains why I blogged so much today. I would strongly recommend this book also to anyone who struggles with family of origin issues or self-esteem problems. I could easily see how many things in the book spoke to this.

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