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
Three men and six women lying on the floor of an historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, their bibles scattered on the desk and the floor, and blood streaming through the aisle is the picture of the world’s, yet known, greatest tragedy of the week of 17 June 2015. In all the heartbreaking dramas of the past decade, the terrorism and gruesome murder of thousands of Christians and religious minorities across the east, Africa and even in the west, and the destruction of iconic places of worship, this one stands out like the story of “Et tu Brute” (and [even] you, Brutus).
On the west coast of the United States of America, I was having a bible study with more than two hundred men of integrity (BBB Group) at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bakersfield, California. The theme was on forgiveness. We recalled the rare cases of Christian forgiveness as witnessed during the Rwandan Genocide of about a million people, Pope Saint John Paul II’s heroic act of forgiveness to his attempted assassin, and many other examples including those from the terrorism-ridden places of the world. Little did we know that, at that very hour, on a similar occasion (bible study), terror was taking place closer home on the other side of the coast about 2500 miles away.
The meek, unarmed and vulnerable Christian community in Charleston welcomed a boy to their fellowship with open arms though he was a stranger. “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” They were living the very words of Our Savior Jesus Christ. They were living out the teachings of the bible.
For one hour, one long hour … the boy (his name is intentionally left out here) listened, and was “part” of the body of Christ. The believers may have offered him water and coffee if he wanted it, since it is customary in many churches in the United States of America during bible studies to make for such provisions. After one hour of fellowship, he decided to kill the very people who welcomed him. Unreal! Mean!! Heartless!!! The rest of that horrible incident is a negative history; the memory would hardly be wiped out of the books. My heart bleeds. No need to recount the horror anymore, and give the villain an undue attention and space on my blog.
May the gentle souls of the fallen heroes of Christian hospitality rest in peace. Amen. My heart goes out to the families, church members and friends of the victims. I offered prayers and I will continue to pray this does not repeat, anywhere.
As the story of that massacre evolves, I find behind it yet another story, a Christian message of forgiveness. During the first court (bond) hearing the day after that evil-personified was arrested, the members of the Church and the families of the victims addressed him to his face. They weren’t in denial about their pains which are really deep; instead they acknowledged them but spoke the very word standing as judgment to the wicked: “I forgive you.” “We forgive you.”
I am edified by this heroic spirit of forgiveness and Christian answer to acts of hate and terrorism. I find in the son of one of the victims, the family members of the deceased and the response of the members of that Church as well as other men and women of goodwill, a clear example of the weapon of forgiveness. Christians do not live by the standards of an eye for an eye. We overcome hate with love, violence with peace, murder with the gospel of life. Our weapons are those of love not of hate.
We see in this tragedy, in the blink of an eye, how many people, irrespective of their affiliations, united in condemnation of the horrific murder. And at least, I suppose, a free world would realize how monstrously wicked people could be, if there were no solid moral compass to shape their thoughts and actions.
Many questions have been asked; how did the villain devolve to this extent, how was he raised, who are his mentors, how dare his father gift him a gun irrespective of a questionable track record, why the historic black Church, why in Charleston, South Carolina? We can go on and on without finding satisfactory answers. But one thing is clear to me; it is in the heart, wherein lies hate and the thirst for blood. For if the heart is not trained to love others, to love every life and to see one another as members of one family, it may as well be that a case-study of the mythic controversial homo homini lupus (man a wolf to man) is finding a scene on our time’s (world) stage despite the triumphalism posture of advancements in education, politics, human rights, science and technology.
In the face of evil, racism, and terrorism, in all their forms, we need to realize how love trumps hate; how a sense of reconciling and reconciliatory family is key to building a stronger world; how seeing others, irrespective of their color or background, as a brother, a sister; and how building on good moral foundations, and I dare to say, the dictates of love, is the only lasting principle for any society.