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Books

Mother Angelica, by Raymond Arroyo

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 Contents - Apr 2006AD2000 April 2006 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: New cardinals: Benedict XVI signals his intentions - Michael Gilchrist
Conscience: Dissenters' appeal to Rome 'a real hoot' says Cardinal Pell - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Books: Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
EarthSong: Green Christianity or a new paganism? - Michael Gilchrist
Salesian Missions: Cardinal Pell visits East Timor - Michael Lynch SDB
Creation: Intelligent Design and the war against God - Stephen Hitchings
The Domestic Church: The Christian Family Movement: re-evangelising through families - Leslie Sammut
Has just punishment had its day? - Fr Matthew Kirby
1973 Decree: A Fourth Rite of Reconciliation for Queensland? - AD2000
Music and Culture: Benedict XVI, Mozart and the quest for beauty - Mark Freer
Letters: Religious education - Saskia Ebejer
Letters: Action needed - Kevin McBride
Letters: New Age - Yana Di Pietro and Magenta Ray
Letters: Translations - George Simpson
Letters: National suicide - Greg O'Regan
Letters: Anti-life politicians - Robert Bom
Letters: RU486 - Brian Harris
Letters: Courageous example - Arnold Jago
Letters: Inclusive language - Ottavio Kos
Letters: Overseas priests - Peter Gilet
Letters: Leadership needed - Tom King
Letters: Church of England - Jim Turley
Letters: Religious life - Barbara Chigwidden
Books: Swear To God: The Promise and Powers of the Sacraments, by Scott Hahn - Jacinta Cummins (reviewer)
Books: Mother Angelica, by Raymond Arroyo - Stephen Hitchings (reviewer)
Books: Fr Martin D'Arcy: Philosopher of Christian Love, by H.J.A. Sire - Michael E. Daniel
Events: Holy Week 2006: Classical Roman Rite in Melbourne
Books: Stimulating reading from AD Books
Reflection: The redeeming Cross: at the centre of Christian faith - Cardinal George Pell

MOTHER ANGELICA
by Raymond Arroyo

(Doubleday, 2005, 384pp, $45.00. Available from AD Books)

Reviewed by Stephen Hitchings

This is one of the most extraordinary biographies you will ever read. It is the story of a poverty- stricken girl, whose parents were divorced, who hated her father, hated nuns, was poorly educated and had little contact with the Church, but who grew up to become the best-known nun in the world and reputedly "the most powerful Catholic woman in America".

More importantly, it is a scarcely credible story of what divine providence can accomplish when matched with unshakeable faith.

Raymond Arroyo spent five years interviewing Mother Angelica and gathering information, and his dedication pays off in his beautiful and detailed portrait of this amazing woman. And for people like me with failing memories, his index is very thorough.

It is an honest book. Arroyo does not gloss over Mother's faults. He presents her as an inspired, very determined, but humble, fallible and frequently confused woman who is willing to endure anything in order to do what she perceives as God's will.

Two things stand out in her life: her complete orthodoxy in matters pertaining to faith, morals and liturgy, and the complete unorthodoxy of her manner of doing things. She defines her faith as having "one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach," and one of her personal mottoes is, "Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous."

Achievements

Her achievements, particularly the formation of the Eternal Word Television Network, have been breath-taking, but they have never been easy. Month after month, year after year, she would be on the verge of financial ruin, with no way of getting any more money, but at the last moment a cheque would arrive for thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands, often from someone she had never even heard of. Just reading about her financial difficulties was stomach-churning. What must living through them have been like?

At every point, her success has been matched by suffering. All her life Mother Angelica has been fighting - against poverty, against prejudice, against unbelief, against a life- long succession of serious illnesses, against her own inadequacies, against those who would destroy her work, and against the sheer impossibility of the tasks she believes God has sent her to do. Truly, God will not be outdone in generosity toward those who are generous with Him.

According to Cardinal Oddi, John Paul II said: "EWTN is the key to restoring the Roman Catholic Church in America." This book shows why.

Stephen Hitchings is a Sydney-based science teacher.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 19 No 3 (April 2006), p. 17

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