By Michael P. Warsaw
God has blessed me to be a part of the work of EWTN Global Catholic Network and its important mission over the past 33 years. In particular, the Lord blessed me with the opportunity to spend nearly every day with the Network’s founder, Mother Angelica, for what would be the last decade of her active work in the EWTN apostolate. She is a truly remarkable woman who has had a profound impact on my life. Every day, I am awed by the fact that it is my responsibility to guide and carry on her mission.
Mother’s founding of EWTN is a wonderful story of faith and trust in God’s Providence. After all, Mother Angelica started EWTN a little more than 30 years ago in her monastery garage with only $200 in the bank, a small group of Poor Clare nuns with no media experience, and some sheep and goats wandering on their property in Irondale, Alabama. Not exactly the “Harvard Business School” model for success!
Mother Angelica was fifty-eight years old and in terrible health when she founded EWTN. She had a high school education and had been a cloistered nun for all of her life. She knew nothing about television or media. Everyone thought she was crazy and told her so. So why take on this impossible task? She took on the work because she was called by God to do it. It wasn’t her idea, it was His, and she embraced it.
Yet today, from those humble beginnings, that Network is a television, radio, and media organization reaching hundreds of millions of homes across the globe, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in multiple languages and using every available media platform.
In reflecting on the beautiful life still being lived by Mother Angelica, I can recall countless moments of grace where Mother Angelica, a Poor Clare Franciscan, responded by surrendering her heart to God and following the example of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Though Mother Angelica endured great struggles and difficulties in founding EWTN, she bore all out of love for her Lord. To this day, her quiet suffering still gives meaning to her life – now lived within the confines of a bed within her Monastery in northern Alabama.
Mother Angelica truly lived and continues to live in accordance with God’s Will. Her life was – and is – borne out of prayer and continual communication with God.
We can all “change the world” in varying ways, but this will not mean that the “world” will necessarily acknowledge what you do, or thank you, or care, or think that what you contribute to your family and to the Church is anything meaningful or worthy of praise. But what the world “thinks” is not our concern. The important thing, as Mother Angelica’s life and the lives so many of the saints show us, is to be faithful and to persevere. Mother wrote:
“God does not look at numbers or quantities. He looks at souls and individuals… You have been created by God and know Jesus for one reason: to witness to faith, and hope, and love before an unbelieving world, even if you influence only one person in your whole life.”
The life and words of Mother Angelica encourage us, not to fear, but to embrace God’s Will for us, even if it means suffering. Her prayer life and obedience to God are worthy of imitation. Everything she did was an act of faith.
The secular notion that our “work life” or “career” is separate from our spiritual life is completely foreign to Mother Angelica, and is foreign to our Catholic Faith.
All of us are well aware of the difficulties that our increasingly secular society presents to Catholics, especially faithful Catholics who wish to exercise our God-given religious freedom and to live out our Faith in the public square.
Mother would encourage those searching for meaning in life to think less of what our secular society calls, “a career” and to re-phrase or re-word the question, to consider instead this question: What does God want? What is the mission which God has given to me?
After all, it is not really about us, it is about God. Mother taught that to live a life which is holy and beautiful, we must surrender our hearts to God and He will show us our path through the “everyday” miracles which constitute our daily lives. As Mother would remind us:
“If you are following God, He never shows you the end. It’s always a walk of faith.”
Michael P. Warsaw is the Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer of Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. (EWTN), the world’s largest religious media network based in Irondale, Alabama, USA.