Raymond Arroyo on how Mother Angelica founded a TV network against all odds
Last night, near London Bridge, in the Church of the Most Precious Blood, Raymond Arroyo gave a scintillating talk about Mother Angelica’s trials and graces in setting up a TV studio.
She decided to set it up in an old garage on the grounds of her monastery. But, in order to broadcast television, she needed enormous satellite dishes, and the cost was six hundred thousand dollars. There was a slight hindrance – Mother Angelica only had two hundred dollars.
Mother Angelica, who is of Italian blood, began looking for an Italian satellite dish provider, because she knew how to negotiate with one of her own. Having found one satellite dish retailer in Atlanta, Mother Angelica began bargaining.
‘The dish will cost six hundred thousand dollars,’ he told her.
‘Well, what if I pay you a little now, and more money as time goes on,’ Mother Angelica said.
‘That’s not how we do business,’ he said plainly.
‘That’s because you lack faith,’ Mother Angelica gently admonished him.
The conversation ended with him saying, ‘not one piece of equipment will come off the truck unless you have all the money to pay for it’.
On the day of delivery, two trucks with satellite dishes pulled up outside Mother’s monastery. Mother Angelica decided to show them the monastery – an effort to stall them because she didn’t have a penny. She told them to wait while she went into the chapel to pray. Kneeling down in the pew she said to the Lord, ‘well, your delivery is outside. It’s your satellite. You’ve got to go and pay the man now. He wants six hundred thousand dollars and I don’t have it.’
Reconciling herself to the fact that six hundred thousand dollars was not going to tumble from the sky, and questioning if the satellite dishes were really God’s plan, Mother Angelica went back out to the delivery man, and told him that she had no money. But just then, at that exact moment, one of the sisters rushed up to her, ‘Mother, there has been a man calling and calling on the phone and he won’t stop until he talks to you. This man says it’s an emergency!’
A little bit reluctantly, Mother Angelica picked up the phone, and the caller was a wealthy businessman who was calling from his yacht in the Bahamas. He had been very moved after reading one of Mother’s pamphlets on suffering and family life. The business man had got embroiled in a life of drugs, but Mother’s counsel had caused him to stop drug-taking and reunite with his wife and kids. The reason that he was ringing her was to give her a token of his gratitude, a sum of six hundred thousand dollars.
‘Can you send it right now?’ Mother Angelica asked eagerly.
Those satellite dishes, to this day, transmits EWTN to most of North America and most of Latin America.
Raymond’s biography of Mother Angelica (which was published by Double Day and became a New York Times bestseller) is bursting with stories just like the one above, as well as giving a very real, uncompromising picture of Mother Angelica’s childhood of hard knocks when her father abandoned the family when she was five and she was left alone to cope with a suicidal mother. Mother did not lecture on suffering: she knew pain and it knew her.
Maybe it’s just me, but I see a dramatic quirk of fate because Mother’s father and the wealthy businessman had something in common: both men had deserted their kids. Mother Angelica wrote a tract on suffering and family life that was informed by her bitter experience of having an abusive father. And her writings inspired one father to return to his children, and in appreciation, he gave Mother six hundred thousand dollars.
Had Mother never had such childhood agony, which inspired her lessons on suffering, she would never have genuinely melted the heart of the wealthy businessman, and he would never have given her six hundred thousand dollars.
|After the talk on June 20th, Raymond was greeted by EWTN viewers|