Walking into the Shrine of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, where the nuns were nursing Mother Angelica, I felt deep peace within me. My soul was ecstatic in praise of God for this woman of grace through whom God’s opulent gift is poured out to the world through the media.
Mother was bedridden having suffered a succession of strokes. She could not speak, but her gestures were resounding. With difficultly, she raised her hands towards me, a sign she wanted a handshake. Her smiles were angelic and her face lit like that of cherubs.
I held her tender hand, so warm and soothing. I caressed it and gently laid my head on her chest, and kissed her chin.
She smiled and held me so tightly. The other nuns wondered what was going on. “She has never been this active in months,” one of them said.
Mother wouldn’t let me leave as I shared with her how the Lord must have been pleased with all she had done for His glory.
I told her about the new projects that EWTN wanted me to lead – projects of hosting and producing a number of teaching/preaching series, retreat tours and documentaries with a view of capturing the richness of the African Catholic culture.
She smiled and nodded, lifting her eyebrows towards me, her eyes looking intently at mine.
For me, it was a sign of a nunc dimitis as she acknowledged God’s graciousness and love for His people. (Father Joseph Mary Wolfe had told me Mother had long wanted to extend EWTN to Africa). The meeting lasted for about thirty minutes, and throughout the time, she never left my hands.
Thereafter, three of the nuns, her health care providers, served us (Fr. Miguel Marie and two other Franciscan friars, Randy and Br. John Therese Marie, who accompanied me) with bread cake and rich ice cream. Oh, Mother sipped the ice cream like a deer gulping fresh water.
“She loves ice cream,” said one of the nuns.
During the entire meeting, I felt heaven come down. It was one of a kind holy meeting. There was something about Mother Angelica that is spellbinding and pure.
We prayed for Mother Angelica and the sisters before leaving for Irondale, EWTN headquarters.
Love you Mother Angelica. Requiescat in pacem. Amen
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Let us return to the story of the First Fall, where we see the tempter enticing Eve to look; followed by the presentation of a politely-subtle consideration, regarding his spin on apparent pleasure to be experienced from an unholy act of disobedience. From the times of ancient philosophy, world history is replete with examples of the need for answers to what is pleasurable. This becomes bait!
Consider, for example, food intended for nourishment and enjoyment. No matter how healthy some foods are, when taken in excess, they turn into bad cholesterol. I used to love ice cream until I discovered it wasn’t good for me.
The sexual act, open to life, is holy because it is God’s special gift for procreation and conjugal love and, as Scripture teaches us, it is God’s wedding present for the couple:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Eph 5:22-24, 31-32).
But the tempter uses it in forms contrary to its original Divine purpose. What the tempter proffers is a “sugar coating” in suggesting illegitimate experiences of impulsive and routine sin. How many lives are ruined, day after day, through this kind of solicitation!
Satan does everything in his alluring power to destroy potential and already-dedicated temples of the Holy Spirit; especially those of the family, called the domestic church, and the youth. It is obvious there is a global ongoing attack on the family, an institution designed by God. The well-known adage “the family that prays together stays together,” holds true at all times.
Families and all of us would do well to turn off our televisions, on a regular basis, close down our media gadgets, look each other in the eye, assure one another of love in the family or community, and pray daily.
I truly believe we all have a great need to return to a committed prayer-life.
While the devil’s “sugar coated” assault includes a feeling of sincerity, we know the devil is the last being to be sincere about anything—he is a liar and his brand of sincerity is Machiavellian.
There is a folk story about the etymology of the word sincerity (sincere) and I’ll use it to drive home the point about the devil’s deceit. It is based on the Latin sine, which means without; and cera, which means wax.
It was claimed, in ancient Greece and Rome, that dishonest sculptors would use wax to cover flaws in their work and thereby deceive viewers. Likewise those trading in precious metals, such as gold, would mix it with less valuable metals (nicknamed “wax”) to deceive prospective buyers. Those feigning innocence of this deceit would convince the buyer of their alleged innocence by attaching the inscription “sine cera” to their work. By so doing, what they conveyed in effect was that, “This work is pure, without deceit,” so the word came to mean honesty in perfection.
The devil can never be honest, never sincere—we need to be absolutely convinced of this. Behind every one of his glamorous sinful allurements, there are countless bogus sincerities and dangerous consequences, which can only lead to misery, pain, disappointment, separations, disillusionment and spiritual starvation.
What else would come from the fallen angel of death? As the great stoic philosopher Epictetus warned, “Let not thy passions avenge themselves upon thee.”
Culled from my book, Word For A Wounded World, Vol. I, pp. 17-19 http://www.amazon.com/Word-For-A-Wounded-World/dp/098488582X