Her story is a great encouragement to those born into difficult family circumstances as an example of just what can be achieved by those who aren’t blessed with a good start.
Prompted first of all by self-pity, the Prodigal Son eventually underwent a profound conversion and repentance to journey home. He’s a good model for Lent and a particular reminder for us to go to Confession to prepare for Easter, especially if we don’t go to Confession regularly.
I am not sure that Mother Angelica ever underwent a radical conversion, growing up with the faith as she did and entering the convent as a young woman. From that time at least, you could say that she went from strength to strength very much in a straight line.
The Prodigal Son was the younger brother, and perhaps a bit spoiled. He was rebel enough to ask for his share of the inheritance and to leave home early. But he was fundamentally a weak man. He was destroyed by his own lack of self-control and perhaps by circumstances beyond his control. Until he returned home to his father, he had achieved nothing as an adult.
Mother Angelica moved mountains. She was a strong woman with an aggressive nature, sharpened by her environment and upbringing, which she controlled well and she used to marvelous effect.
The Prodigal Son was a Jew who acknowledged his offenses before the good God. But obviously he didn’t know Christ. While Mother Angelica could only have been Catholic, and did have something of the Protestant revivalist about her, she had a wonderful devotion to Christ who was at the heart of her faith, of her theism.
She was a woman of deep faith and prayer and would have made a great double act with the Old Testament prophet Elijah, who saved monotheism under the notorious Jezebel and her weak and evil husband Ahab.
It was love and devotion to Christ which provoked Mother’s most famous and controversial denunciation in 1993, after a female Christ figure was presented [in the Stations of the Cross] at the Denver World Youth Day. It was a searing and prophetic indictment. It was a bit over the top and the end result of years of insults and provocation.
I remember reading it and concluding that whatever might be said of the language, her point was basically correct. She was right. An Australian Catholic activist told me that speech changed the direction of his life.
So during this season of Lenten preparation, on Laetare Sunday, we rejoice in the fact that we know and love Christ, our Savior, our teacher, our healer. We thank God for all the good work that EWTN has done since 1981. And we pray that God will continue to bless EWTN for many decades to come. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.