“Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.” – Mother Mary Angelica
The quote above is one that has stuck with me for almost a decade. Mother Angelica, a cloistered Franciscan nun who became the founder of EWTN, the global Roman Catholic television network, died today at age 92. It is fitting that a woman as devout and holy as she would pass on the day of the resurrection of her Lord.
I left the Catholic Church years ago, and anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m not in a good place with Christianity and the faith and beliefs I’ve held my entire life, especially since I’m considering converting to Judaism, but saying goodbye to this extraordinary woman hurts.
When I was first studying to convert to Catholicism, I discovered the EWTN network, and it wasn’t long until I stumbled upon the reruns of Mother Angelica Live. The first time I saw this little, grandmotherly woman end up in a fit of giggles over one of her own jokes, I was hooked. It was through Mother Angelica and her channel that I began to first understand and then seek out perpetual adoration chapels so that I could sit in front of the Real Presence and practice adoration. It was through her that I discovered The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song, which I continued to pray even after I returned to Protestantism. It was through Mother Angelica that I learned how compassionate and loving Catholics could really be. The shows on EWTN, both TV and radio, kept me company through some of my darkest moments from 2006-2010. Mother Angelica helped me to be the best Catholic I could, and helped me to be a faithful until bad priests and their skewed focus forced me to choose to leave Catholicism completely.
I knew her death would affect me. I’ve honestly been waiting for the announcement for a while because I knew how poor her health was. The fact that my dad had started watching EWTN recently and was telling me about how much he liked her made me revisit some of her shows last summer, and I found myself smiling and laughing and even crying over her again. She was a trailblazer, an inspiration, and proof that you can make absolutely anything happen in life with enough tenacity, grit, and thick skin. She may have been a nun and had devoted her entire life to serving God, but there are few stronger woman than she.
Mother Angelica was everything good about Roman Catholicism and Christianity. As I typed this, I’m listening to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to honor her, and I plan on watching the coverage on her memorial and burial this week on EWTN. I’ve already shed some tears, and I can tell by the burning in my throat that I will shed some more before this night is over. I know that she is now joyous and out of pain, but I can’t help but think about the huge hole she’s left behind. Her legacy, though… her legacy is shimmering with promise and hope. Tomorrow, I’ll probably dig out my rosary and pray this prayer again in her honor. I owe her that, at the very least.
To be transparent, my heart feels filleted open. Today, Easter Sunday, was the first Easter in my life that I did not acknowledge in some way. No church. No family dinner. Nothing to make this day anything less than an ordinary Sunday. I went to my second-to-last Judaism 101 class this morning at the synagogue and left feeling strong and confident in my choice to leave the Christians for the Jews. And after getting my emotions stomped on at the end of Batman vs. Superman (no spoilers!!!) this afternoon, I came home, ate dinner, and found out about Mother Angelica. In the last hour, every possible emotion has coursed through my veins. Memories of my times with the Catholic Church, the hours I’ve spent with the rosary in my hand, the smell of incense, the beauty of the traditions, the feeling of blessing myself with holy water – I’m remembering it all, and it’s left me doubting everything. Perhaps it’s just a reaction to grief, perhaps it’s more…
Rest in peace, Mother Angelica, and thank you.