Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality - Edited by Raymond Arroyo
The quaint, homespun, sometimes adorable, sometimes in-your-face wisdom of Mother Angelica is a joy to read. One does not have to agree with her completely to benefit from her humble wisdom. There's something about deeply spiritual Catholics - they don't have all the a-big-church-means-I'm-blessed-and-a-success attitudes of many Protestant leaders. They still believe in poverty, humility, surrender and redemptive suffering. This book is "like a sit-down with Mother Angelica; a chance to soak up the wisdom and joy of a woman who has lived a life of indominatable faith" (xv). Self-described as "a porcupine at a balloon party" (xvi), Mother never fails to bring a smile. For example: "All life is a school of holiness and everything that happens to you from bad weather to an ingrown toenail is an opportunity for you to be like Jesus. Don’t miss the opportunity" (40). In regard to life's trials: "If everything had gone smoothly, just as you envisioned, wouldn’t you have become very complacent? Would you have depended on the Lord so much? Would you really have known that He’s the one doing it all? You might think you could have done without those setbacks and problems and persecutions—but you’re wrong. You needed them" (147). Mother is constantly self-deprecating in an amusing and encouraging way. I love the following passage which reflects this well: "I like to sit in bed, eating bon-bons, and reading the mortified lives of the saints. When I was a young novice I used to flip through those biographies looking for someone like me. I need nine hours of sleep a day. The medication I take requires me to eat seven times a day I like air conditioning and comfortable chairs. I went through all the lives of the saints and I couldn’t find one like me. But I came to the conclusion that the saints weren’t the problem, it was their biographers. I’ve often said that I wish every biographer of every saint, who did not depict the truth, would go to purgatory for forty years, because they have made the saints unreal. You’d swear these people were holy when they were conceived, after reading one of these accounts. But it’s not true. The saints would be the first to tell you: they struggled like you do. They ate, and drank, and slept, and were frustrated, and victims of injustice. They were like you! Can you imagine emptying heaven now and putting all the saints in a big arena? They would look just like you do now: fat and skinny, young and old. They had their faults and eccentricities. They bugged people. It takes a saint to live with one. Every Christian is supposed to bug somebody. That’s what the saints did" (165).