From the founder of EWTN Global Catholic Network comes this profoundly practical, humorous, and common-sense approach to answering life's most vexing questions. Mother Angelica gently confronts your real-life struggles, lifting your heart to God and leading your soul to heaven as she provides answers from a life dedicated to God not the promises of a world entrenched in vice. Mother Angelica will become your trusted companion in the battle for virtue as you read through her advice and answer her call to grow closer to Christ. She'll help you conquer your most deeply rooted sins, and she'll lead you to overcome the fear of death, the pain of guilt, and the seemingly benign attachments you have to the things of this world. She'll also lead you to a more profound understanding of the spiritual life, explaining why it's so hard to be good, why suffering must happen to even the best of us, and why God doesn't answer all your prayers.
Mother Angelica became a Franciscan nun at the age of 21. After becoming a cloistered nun based in Birmingham, Alabama, she went on to become one of the founders of EWTN (Eternal World Television Network), a television channel dedicated to broadcasting Catholic-themed programming. EWTN's home base was initially set up right on the grounds of Mother Angelica's convent and the non-profit channel was run solely on donations. Programming reached viewers worldwide, leading Mother Angelica to get mountains of letters each week, letters that asked for requests and posed deep life questions. In this book, she takes some of the most common topics / concerns people seemed to consistently lay at her feet and answers them to the best of her ability.
For starters, Mother Angelica breaks down the different types of suffering a person can experience -- we're talking about Catholicism so you know we gotta hit upon suffering lol -- and offers possible positive take-aways in each situation:
Preventative Suffering = God blocking you from a bad choice because something better is in the works for you. You won't necessarily be protected from experiencing pain, but the experience will likely teach you courage during times of adversity, and possibly how to find peace and acceptance later on down the road. It's during this section that she also gets into Permitting Will vs Ordaining Will and what she calls Supernatural Hope:
"Supernatural Hope is the balance between expecting a miracle and accepting God's Will even if it results in pain or death. There is a certain serenity that comes from Supernatural Hope... hope tells us to move along, that it's all right... Hope gives us joy in sorrow and peace amidst the turmoil of daily life. In certain ways, I think it is the virtue we need most of all."
Mother Angelica also mentions Supernatural Love -- kind of along the same lines as Supernatural Hope, but with the love variety she says:
The person who posesses Supernatural Love is able to keep loving when reason says it's time to give up. It's what makes us able to forgive, and to keep forgiving, when what we really want to do is throw in the towel and be forever angry at the person who keeps hurting us....Supernatural Love is what enables you to keep loving your spouse or your children or your best friend when at the moment you are hard pressed to find anything lovable about them. It allows you to keep in mind that everyday annoyances that can drive you crazy are small items in the overall scope of things. How? By making you aware that love is a decision, not just a feeling, and that you can decide to love as God loves -- freely and endlessly. Supernatural Love is the kind of love that keeps marriages vibrant, families solid, friendships strong... Supernatural Love doesn't judge or ask questions. It simply gives.
Can I just interject here and say that as beautiful and inspiring as I found this passage, Lord forgive me but I could help but hear the song "Electric Love" from Bob's Burgers in my head right after. X-D I know! I'M SORRY. (but kinda not really)
Corrective Suffering = The damage from the problem has already been done, but you're meant to go through it because the experience of the suffering is put forth to correct something undesirable within your soul, help you see the error of going further down that path, etc (think maybe losing people / jobs because of anger issues, drug / alcohol addiction, something like that).
Repentant Suffering = basically, a painful experience that is meant to humble you if you're "getting too big for yer' britches" as the country folk in my family say ;-)
She also touches upon the idea of "false martyrdom". As she says, "Suffering in itself doesn't make you holy."
I picked up this book as a secondhand books shopping find shortly after my mother's passing. Naturally, I had her on my mind and seeing this book made it even more so as I come from a largely Irish Catholic family and my mom often spoke of how she seriously considered joining a convent and living the nun life prior to meeting my father. I'd never heard of this nun before and had only vaguely remembered seeing EWTN on my cable menu listing, but I was curious to see if she had anything to offer my mind during my time of mourning.
To be honest, I brushed over a lot of it. There was a bunch here that was similar to ideas I was already raised with, other ideas I didn't entirely agree with. Some of her opinions definitely didn't mesh with my beliefs at all. While I appreciated her sassy, fun delivery, I was bothered by the way she knocks the gay community as well as couples who choose to live together and engage in pre-marital sex. Again, Catholic nun, shouldn't really be all that surprised that she disagrees with these practices, it was just her tone on these topics that I didn't particularly like. She had this way of dismissing people making grown decisions for themselves that feel right for them and their lives: "Feelings are not evil, but they are not reliable either." Maybe not, but you gotta let people live for themselves. She also slams the idea of positive thinking, but the examples she uses to illustrate where it's at fault tells me she doesn't entirely understand the concept.
Also, I gotta say, Mother Angelica's vision of heaven sounds just AWFUL to me! An eternity of nonstop praying, no pets, and being satisfied with just being with God and letting his presence complete you?! Sorry girl, but you lost me at NO PETS.
Some good bits here and there but not a keeper collection for me. It was worth a try!