Who is Mother Angelica? I admit I did not know her story very well, nor had I seen too much of her on television - we do not get EWTN on the cable system where I live. I have seen her and her network a few times when I was on vacation, but I really did not know the real Mother Angelica. I had heard of the miraculous healing of her legs a few years ago, and I first scoffed at that not knowing her story. After reading this biography on Mother Angelica and EWTN by Raymond Arroyo, who works with EWTN and knew Mother Angelica quite well, I see now that she has had some miraculous events in her life.
Arroyo’s biography is down to earth, pulling no punches in telling Mother Angelica’s story. She has not had an easy life. Born Rita Rizzo, her life has not been easy. Her father abandoned his family, and after his divorce from her mother he failed to pay child support and alimony. Rizzo’s mother, a very dependent person, fought against depression and anxiety all her life, holding on to Rizzo and not letting her out of her sight. When Rizzo joined the monastery in Canton, Ohio, her mother had a fit. Eventually she accepted the situation, even joining her daughter’s monastery in Alabama, where she died known as Sister Mary David. Mother Angelica and her father were reconciled before he died.
Arroyo had access to Mother Angelica herself and many others who have known her throughout her life, writing his smoothly flowing biography an insider’s point of view. The reader will wonder what is going to happen next as Mother Angelica’s life has been eventful and, at times, filled with anxiety. Arroyo goes into the different controversies that she has had to deal with, and how she seems to always, somehow, come out on top. She had the support of Pope John Paul II; he would tell her so when he saw her and would send her notes and gifts. When she (and others) thought she was in the doghouse, the Pope would send her an important gift. One of the most memorable was a monstrance that he had been given by the parish of Nouwa Huta, Poland, when he was Archbishop of Krakow. If that did not say she had his support, what would?
Arroyo shows that Mother Angelica has always relied upon her Spouse Jesus Christ for guidance and resources. She always trusted in God’s providence; if things were not provided, she accepted that as a sign that she was not doing what God wanted. This, though, hardly ever happened. She is so reliant on God for inspiration, having claimed to see Jesus a few times as a child as well as other apparitions throughout her life. With the miracles that have physically happened to her and others, one cannot dismiss what she has seen as foolishness. Doctors have confirmed that her miraculous healings are beyond scientific explanation.
Mother Angelica and EWTN got the Catholic message out to many people, not an easy thing for her and the network. She relied upon divine providence to build the network and to do what she always thought was God’s work.
Before the World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, Mother Angelica was a happy-going person, but an upsetting incident there caused her to begin to fight against the liberals in the Church. She felt she was obligated by God to do this, and she had the support of the Pope.
Raymond Arroyo is the news director and lead anchor at EWTN. He has worked at the Associated Press, The New York Observer, and others. His writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Financial Times, and others. He also has appeared on other news shows.
Arroyo’s book is highly recommended to those who want to know more about Mother Angelica and EWTN. You might be surprised by how human she is, but also how reliant on God she is, too.