In his fourth and most likely final book on Mother Angelica, noted author and EWTN news anchor Raymond Arroyo highlights some of the devotions and prayers of the 86-year-old nun, many of which are borne from her personal sufferings.
In an exclusive interview with CNA, Arroyo spoke about his motivation behind writing the new book and detailed some of the lesser known facts surrounding Mother Angelica's early life, including her painful disability and being raised in an impoverished, broken home. Mother Angelica, he said, is “no stranger to pain.”
“The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica,” is set to be released on March 2 and contains not only meditations and prayers written by Mother Angelica but traditional favorites of hers as well. According to Arroyo, readers will be able to “'listen in' on her private, and very human, conversations with God.”
Explaining how he came up with idea for his latest book, Arroyo said, “When I read these prayers, both those composed by her and the time tested variety, I thought: people should really see this. Taken as a whole these prayers give readers a marvelous example of how we are to approach God. And if anyone knows how to speak to God and listen to His promptings, it is Mother Angelica. It's a real treasure of a book.”
In addition to founding EWTN, a non-profit, multi-million dollar Catholic media company, Mother Angelica heads a flourishing convent in Alabama, that attracts thousands of tourists every year.
“Mother Angelica has affected the lives of literally millions and millions of people around the world,” Arroyo continued. “And one of the hallmarks of her life has been this constant prayer that she maintains even in the midst of business and personal trials. It is truly the foundation of all she has done and of the great fruit she is responsible for.”
Discussing the nun's troubled childhood, Arroyo told CNA that “Mother Angelica's father abandoned her at five. Her birth mother had emotional problems and was probably manically depressed. They were very poor and worked hard to keep themselves clothed and fed. So this girl tasted pain early on. Angelica was also born with a spinal defect. She had repeated back surgeries and for years walked with the help of braces and crutches.”
“She was no stranger to pain, and in this new book there are prayers she composed specifically for those suffering or in pain,” explained Arroyo. “Mother was always very attentive to those who were suffering – probably because she intimately knew what they were going through, and the spiritual power of suffering.”
“These prayers are so practical that I think they'll have wide appeal. There are prayers to say when in a financial crisis, prayers for easing a transition in your life, prayers for drawing us closer to God's Will. The diversity of the prayers here and their beauty is striking.”
Arroyo also mentioned that a section of the book deals expressly with a difficult time in Mother Angelica's adult life.
“One of the unique features of this book is the Dark Night of The Soul prayer diary. Mother went through a very difficult period in the 1984. She lost her birth mother and her network was on shaky financial footing. In the depth of darkness she writes these very stark, impassioned pleas to God – searching for answers and light. I think people will be touched by this. And more, it will give them hope when they encounter their own darkness and remind them that darkness is sometimes permitted by God as a path to greater light.”
Arroyo, who has worked alongside Mother Angelica at EWTN, spoke on what he finds to be most inspiring about the nun. “Her deep faith is clearly the most inspiring thing about her life,” he reflected. “She was never distracted from God, no matter the circumstances. Mother went through hell to raise this beacon of hope for so many (EWTN). In the biography people can see the effects of her faith and the challenges she overcame – but with this book they have an opportunity to experience the foundation of her life: her spirituality and the actual prayers she uttered.”
Arroyo's previous three books on the life and work of Mother Angelica have all made the New York Times bestseller list. When asked about his upcoming book, the author said “In some ways I think this book could be the most successful of the canon.”
“It is the fourth book in my Mother Angelica cycle (as I like to call it) and likely the last. It seemed right to offer readers something that was practical and uplifting, like the woman herself.”
Commenting on his previous works on the nun, Arroyo explained that “The biography covered the details of her life, the 'Little Book of Life Lessons' contained some of her spiritual wisdom, 'The Private and Pithy Lessons From The Scriptures' was a collection of her Bible lessons, and this book is the last word on her prayer life – more than a prayer book it is an intimate spiritual portrait of Mother. The whole collection can be read independently or as a whole.”
“For those who have read the biography, I think this book will deepen the experience and prolong the spiritual effects,” he added. “ At least that's what I hope.”
“I thought people should have this deeply personal reminder of a woman who is so dear to the world,” Arroyo concluded. “When you read this book, you will hear a woman worshiping God, begging Him for light, jubilating and suffering. We all go through those seasons and Mother Angelica provides a powerful spiritual example that I think we can all benefit from.”