A Flight to Remember

Mother Teresa and PCPAs

Left to right: Sr. Grace Marie, Mother Angelica, Mother Teresa, Sr. Raphael, Sr. Margaret Mary

It was an October evening in the late 1980’s.  Mother Angelica, Bill Steltemeier, Sr Margaret Mary, Sr Raphael and myself were standing in JFK Airport in New York, waiting to board a Pan Am flight to Rome.  Seeing two Missionaries of Charity also waiting ahead of us, I pointed them out to Rev. Mother,  “Oh, look Mother they’ll be on the same flight as us!”  No sooner had I made the observation, then a PR person for Pan Am came up to Mother and said, “Aren’t you Mother Angelica?”  As soon as she answered in the affirmative the woman said excitedly “Wonderful! We also have Mother Teresa on this flight, and we would like to upgrade you and your group to first class, as we have done with Mother.  Mother doesn’t like it, but we don’t give her a choice.”  The lady spoke with a smile that said we didn’t have a choice either.

Before anything else could be discussed we found ourselves being ushered onto a fairly empty aircraft, and there sitting near the entrance of the plane was Mother Teresa of Calcutta!  She immediately got up and greeted Mother Angelica and the rest of us.  I couldn’t believe that these two amazing women were together on the same flight, one who attended to the corporal works of mercy, and the other the spiritual works and…that I was on the flight with them!  Needless to say, this was possibly the only journey in my life that I felt absolutely no fear of any mishap!

I assumed that after the introduction that would be pretty much that for the rest of the trip, with perhaps these two spiritual giants speaking alone to each other.  Mother Angelica and Mother Teresa did sit together and speak for some time, but then, to my joy, in her kindness she sat with Sr Margaret Mary and myself and spoke to us. Her words, as always, were simple yet powerful, some things we had heard a hundred times before, but somehow, out of her lips, the words took on a new and greater meaning because of her great holiness.  She took her time and spoke to each one of us with a thoughtful attentiveness that made one feel regarded and loved.

During the remainder of the trip as she sat with her sisters ( and a brother), one felt her immense prayerfulness of heart, it was a great sense of the cloister that she carried with her. It was clear how she managed to accomplish so much: by her constant attention to and deep union with her Lord.  The Reverend Billy Graham once said of Mother Teresa, “When she walked into the room to greet me I felt that I was indeed meeting a saint.” He was of course right!

We arrived in Rome and said our good-byes. How grateful I was for the opportunity to have met this wonderful woman, a true daughter of the Church, who stopped at nothing to do God’s Will, bringing the light of Jesus to so many dark and hopeless places, just as He asked her, “Bring me into the dark holes of the poor. Come, carry me, I cannot go alone.

There is little doubt in my mind that she will be no less tireless in interceding in heaven for those who ask for her help than she was whilst on earth, for as she once said, “I’m not going to sleep in heaven, but I’m going to work harder in another form.”  She is another member of that great crowd of witnesses whom St Paul speaks about in Hebrews 12, praying for us and urging us ever forward. We join the Church and the world in thanking God for the canonization of this great intercessor for us.  St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

A New Saint?

weeping1952

I knew He would do what He thought best. He did, and I will devote my whole life to working for Him in any way He wants to use me.  -Rhoda Wise, 1939

It’s interesting how the lives of holy people often intersect. Throughout the history of the Church we have many stories of saints who were friends with other saints, and it’s often been said that saints beget saints. Well, we may be one step closer to having a formally recognized “saint” from the US!  After an informal preliminary investigation, the formal cause for beatification and canonization for Rhoda Wise, a wife, mother, convert, mystic and stigmatist from Ohio, will open this October.

Rhoda’s story is amazing – she was miraculously healed from tremendous physical sufferings, and she also endured much suffering for love of God and souls, sharing in the passion wounds of Our Lord for the last six years of her life.  She also had an important role in the early life of Mother Angelica.

Rhoda, while still a Protestant, had learned of St. Therese from Sr. Clement, one of the Mercy Sisters who cared for her in hospital. Sister gave her a St. Therese novena prayer, as well as a small shrine, and a devotion to the French Carmelite saint developed.  Eventually, St. Therese herself appeared to Rhoda and healed her of a very painful open wound on her abdomen, which doctors had said was incurable.

When a teenage Rita Rizzo was afflicted with a very painful stomach ailment, her mother took her to visit the local mystic, who gave her a copy of the novena to St. Therese.  On the ninth day, Rita woke up to find that her dropped stomach was cured, and it was this miracle that helped her to first realize how much God loved her.  Her response was whole-hearted and enthusiastic, leading her to give herself completely to God in religious life.  Our Lord once told Rhoda that Rita would do great things for the Church. “My Rita?” she asked.  Who but Our Lord could have known that a feisty young girl with a difficult childhood would go on to found a global television network and, more importantly, teach the world the beauty and value of suffering.  In this, she was just like her friend, Rhoda Wise.

A 19 year old Rita Rizzo (far left) standing next to Rhoda Wise

A 19 year old Rita Rizzo (far right) standing next to Rhoda Wise

Rhoda entered into eternity on July 7, 1948.  Today begins the annual novena leading up to this anniversary.  Here are the novena prayers, taken from the official website of the Rhoda Wise home.  Please visit the website to learn more about Rhoda’s life and the many miracles God worked through her.


NOVENA  PRAYERS

(These Prayers Are For Private Use Only)

My Friend,  you are my true Friend. My only Friend.  You take part in all my misfortunes.  You know how to turn them into blessings.  You listen to me with great kindness when I tell you all my troubles, and you always have something with which to heal my wounds.

I find you at any time of the day or night, for I find you wherever I happen to be.  You never leave me.  If I change my dwelling place,
I find you wherever I go.  You never weary of listening to me.   I am certain of being loved by You, if I but love You.  My worldly goods are of no value to you, but by bestowing yours on me You never grow the poorer.  However miserable I may be, no one more noble, more clever, or even more holy, can come between You and me and deprive me of your friendship.

And death, which tears us away from all other friends will unite me forever to You.  All the humiliations attached to old age or the loss of honor will never separate you from me;  On the contrary, I shall never enjoy You more fully and you will never be closer to me than when everything seems to conspire against me and cast me down.  You bear with all my faults with extreme patience.  Even my lack of fidelity and my ingratitude do not wound you to such a degree as to make you unwilling to receive me back when I return to you.  O Jesus, grant that I may die loving you and that I may die for love of you.  Amen
– St. Claude de la Columbiere

Rhoda_s_Jesus-294x524O Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator with the Father, Who has appointed the most blessed Virgin, Thy Mother, to be our Mother also and Our Mediatrix before You; grant that whoever draws close to You to beseech any benefit may receive all things through her and rejoice.  You live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

 

rhoda_s_therese-255x264O beautiful Rose of Carmel, Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus, deign according to your promise to descend from Heaven to visit
those who implore you, and to pour down in profusion those Celestial Graces that are symbolized by the shower of roses that Jesus, your Spouse, has put at your disposal.  Your power is great with his Heart.  He can only listen and hear your prayer.  I have recourse to you then, O Saint Therese of the Child Jesus; assist me in this need (mention your intention.) Speak for me to Jesus and to Mary and obtain for me the grace to live a holy life and die a happy death.  Amen

An Our Father, Hail Mary , and Glory be for the intentions of Rhoda Wise.

 “I do not see the Sacred Heart as others do.  I think that my Spouse’s heart is mine alone, as mine is his alone, and I speak to him in the solitude of this delightful heart to heart exchange, waiting for the day when I will contemplate him face to face.”

(St. Therese in a letter to her sister, Celine, October 14, 1890)


 

Mother Angelica’s Final Journey

One month ago today Mother Mary Angelica was laid to rest in the crypt church of the beautiful monastery she built for God’s glory.  It’s still so very fresh in our minds that it’s hard to believe more than a month has passed since her death.  Here are a couple slide shows of pictures from our time in Alabama, beginning on Tuesday after her death, when her body was returned to the monastery.  Every procession and Rosary was done so beautifully and prayerfully, a reminder of the richness and grace the Church offers to the faithful even after their death.

 

 

You are invited…

Image

Month's Mind Requiem Mass

Fr. Christopher Phillips will be celebrating a Month’s Mind Mass for the repose of the soul of Mother Angelica on the one month anniversary of her death.  We hope you will join us in thanking God for her incredible life, and praying for the blessed repose of her soul.

Memories of Mother

Amidst all the beautiful messages of condolence and support we have received, for which we are so grateful, a couple friends also sent this video from Morley Safer’s interview with Mother and the Sisters on 60 Minutes.  We’ve scoured the internet for this video over the years, and are so happy to be able to see it for the first time (except for Sr. Grace Marie, of course, who actually lived it). 

We have heard the story of the famous interview many times – Sr. Gabriel’s infamous story about her “English lesson” from Mother, how kind and respectful Morley Safer and the crew were, and how mortified a certain postulant was when Mother told the tv audience to write in with their suggestions for her new religious name. 

Enjoy the video, and if you’ve felt the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart that you should come and say farewell to Mother in person JUST DO IT!  Here is the schedule of events over the next several days, and Mother’s body will be in the upper church for visitation today and Thursday, leading up to her funeral on Friday.   This is an incredible moment in history and we are all privileged to be able to take part in it.

Requiescat in Pace, Beloved Mother

941093_10153601933737582_5298888822310695096_n

Please join with our community, and the faithful around the world, in praying for the blessed repose of the soul of our beloved Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, who passed into eternity around 5pm this evening.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.
“May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once poor, may you have eternal rest.”

Happy 92nd Birthday, Mother Angelica!

Image

10504798_830002653715160_5219637369629587685_o

Picture courtesy of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word

Say a prayer for our beloved Mother Angelica – she is 92 today! And what beautiful things she has done for God in those 92 years.  May she receive a return of the consolation and joy that she has provided for so many through her life of prayer, and her unshakeable trust in God’s Divine Providence.  We love you Reverend Mother!