The great Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN and one of the most vibrant Catholic missionaries of the twentieth century, passed away on Easter Sunday. Bishop Barron published an article the next day reflecting on her life and legacy. Today, we share his answers to a few follow-up questions:
In what ways do you think Mother Angelica transformed the landscape of Catholicism in the United States?
Bishop Barron: I think that Mother Angelica, very much in tune with St. John Paul II, gave Catholicism in this country an evangelical focus. She was not satisfied with the maintenance of institutions. She wanted to go on the march, bringing the Catholic faith to the wider culture.
I do think that after Vatican II, and in direct opposition to the authentic spirit of the Council, the Church tended to turn inward, debating with itself over issues of sex and authority. But in reality, the whole élan of the Council was missionary and extraverted. Mother embodied that attitude.
In what specific ways has her influence guided how you conduct your own Word on Fire multimedia apostolate?
Bishop Barron: I think the most direct influence that Mother Angelica had on me is her spirituality of radical trust in divine providence. She was confident that if God asked her to do something, he would provide what was needed for that work.
When we started Word on Fire, with very little money and institutional support, we relied on God, and he came through. When we commenced the CATHOLICISM series, we had to beg for the money. And when the series was finished, we trusted that God would find an outlet for it.
I was also influenced by her chutzpah and sheer gumption. She saw what needed to be done, and she did it. She didn’t wring her hands or bemoan her fate or blame others. She did the needed thing. That influenced me very directly.
Is there a lesson Catholic media apostolates can learn from her today?
Bishop Barron: Besides the spiritual lessons outlined above, I would say that she taught us that committees and bureaucracies rarely accomplish anything great. They are useful and helpful, but they don’t produce great things.
What you need is a person on fire with the Gospel and with a clear vision. The rest will follow.