Mother Angelica’s passion: How the EWTN foundress embraced suffering in her final days as a gift to God
IRONDALE, Alabama, March 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- Even in her final moments of life, Mother Angelica continued to teach the world about the Catholic faith she loved and lived so well, but this time about the redemptive meaning of suffering. At a Tuesday memorial sermon for the foundress of Catholic TV network who died Easter Sunday, EWTN Chaplain Fr. Joseph Wolfe described the final days of Mother’s life.
According to Fr. Wolfe, Mother Angelica gave instructions to her caregivers to administer no pain relievers or drugs — despite her increasing suffering — that might unintentionally shorten her life because, as he said, she wanted to consciously suffer and offer her suffering to God.
“Most of us would not think that way. We would think, 'Get me out of here...' What's taken out of that picture is the love of God,” said Wolfe as reported by AL.com.
Catholics believe that every human life, young or old, healthy or sickly, carefree or suffering, has intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose in the eyes of God. Following St. Paul, who powerfully teaches that Christians actually partner with Christ in his redemptive action by offering their sufferings to God, Catholics see suffering not only as something to be patiently endured, but something that, when lovingly united to Christ, helps to redeem the world.
"Her whole life really was colored with suffering. We don't think of her as someone who was downcast in her suffering but gave us courage in our own sufferings."
Mother Angelica’s example could not be more of a contrast with those who push euthanasia and assisted suicide as a solution to pain and suffering, what they refer to as a “death with dignity.”
Fr. Wolfe said that Mother Angelica wanted each day to be "one more act of suffering to God," adding, "This is the greatest power on earth, the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. This was something that Mother understood. She wanted to love Him in return. That was her whole life."
Mother Angelica died at the age of 92 after a long period of ill health, including two strokes in 2001 that made it difficult for her to speak and forced her to wear an eye patch over her left eye. She also experienced suffering in her early life when an accident involving an industrial waxing machine left her wearing leg braces.
"Her whole life really was colored with suffering," said Fr. Wolfe. "We don't think of her as someone who was downcast in her suffering but gave us courage in our own sufferings."
Fr. Wolfe described some of the final suffering he witnessed her experiencing on Good Friday, the day that Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross.
"It was on Good Friday…Mother began to cry out early in the morning from the pain that she was having. She had a fracture in her bones because of the length of time she had been bedridden. They said you could hear it down the hallways, that she was crying out on Good Friday from what she was going through.”
“These two people said to me she has excruciating pain. Well, do you know where that word excruciating comes from? Ex, from, cruce, from the cross. Excruciating pain,” he said.
Fr. Wolfe said that Mother Angelica saw suffering as an opportunity to make an act of love to God.
"She saw something that most of us don't see ... that she could say, you don't know the value of one new offering, one new act of love of God, one suffering that is united to Christ and offered to him. You don't know the value of that,” he said.
Mother Angelica’s death may bring to the minds of many the death of Pope John Paul II. One of his closest friends described his final moments in 2005 as a witness to “what it truly means to die with dignity.”