All of us have our own story of how we have grown over the years in holiness and knowledge of our faith. Anyway, I hope we have grown and are not the same person we were yesterday. Hopefully we have become a better Catholic inside (holiness) as well as outside (traditional).
Let us review the tradition growth of Mother Angelica and EWTN. When almost the whole American church was going through its progressive evolution and turmoil, Mother Angelic gave a voice to the majority of us who were somewhat traditional Catholics. Not only that, but she help many of us to learn and appreciate our Catholic faith in a down to earth way. Mother Angelica was a charismatic Catholic who cared about morals, sin, abortion, confession, the Bible and above all the Holy Eucharist.
But as I said before, in her development of EWTN over time, you can see growth in her rediscovery of tradition. Mother had the blessing of having once been a traditional Poor Clare nun before Vatican II. She moved to Birmingham Alabama and started Holy Angels Monastery. As a charismatic she was interested in spreading the Gospel and began writing small booklets expressing her love for the Catholic faith in a simple form many Catholics and non Catholics enjoyed. She had a gift of explaining our faith in simple terms. She also had the gift of gab in a very positive way. And at this stage she developed a apologetic approach as well.
All this happened when she was still a cloistered nun. Poor Clare nuns have very strict rules of prayer, silence and enclosure. But then she began to be a progressive and traveled around appearing and preaching at conferences. She visited a TV station in Chicago with Deacon Bill and asked how she could have one of these and how much would it cost. Before long she built a studio where she would produce her program, I think “Mother Angelica Live” and would buy air time to broadcast the programs on protestant and some secular stations.
Mother Angelic is a wonderful example of someone stepping out in faith. She would not have the money, and yet she would start any out anyway. I have always admired this in her and have told her so. She would always use the latest and most expensive technology in her evangelization mission. She had the best printing press for her little booklets and now she got the best technology for producing programs. She made a great leap of faith to start to go on the air through satellites. She risked and it work and she started reaching people all over the world with her programs.
Mother was out there defending and teaching Catholic dogma when it was being trashed in most parishes. She taught how to say traditional prayers like the Holy Rosary and Novenas. She got people reading and studying the Bible.
We, traditional Catholics need to learn from her story and do the same. Especially we need to go out in faith to bring truth to the world. The cyber world is changing ways of communicating fast and we need to be in the forefront. That is where you young people are of great importance. It comes to mind the YouTube called something like “Catholic Girl”. It was a young teenager who talked about her love for the Latin Mass. All she did was record herself and put it on YouTube. She was a big hit till she went into the Dominican Sisters of Ann Arbor (who will sadly not have the Latin Mass at their priories).
Back to the traditional growth of Mother Angelica. Let us look at her first chapel of the Holy Angeles in Irondale daily mass is still broadcasted from everyday. This was built nicely in the modern style that was common then. You can see the windows are etched and very transparent. The altar is nice, but modern. Over time the tabernacle has become more precious along with other easily changeable things. But basically it is still a modern chapel.
Then when Mother Angelica built the Shrine to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Nino Jesus, you see a total switch or return to tradition. Through her network, Catholics everywhere were once again able to see that a beautiful, sacred, traditional church could be built in todays progressive Catholic climate. At this time all the documents coming from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops were demanding modern church designs. This was a great boost to traditional Catholic architecture.
This Shrine is built in a romanesque style with stain glass windows and marble everywhere. The Altar is free standing, but designed for the mass to be said ad orientam. The tabernacle is in the center and there is an altar rail. There are two side altars. The pews are made out of hard wood. The broadcasting of the daily mass is prohibited from the Shrine by the bishop because it is celebrated ad orientam. That is why it is broadcasted from Irondale instead. Mother Angelica won a decisive battle in getting permission to build such a traditional church in such progressive modernistic times. This was when most Catholic churches were built to look like conference rooms.
Another historical break away for what the US Bishops were demanding, was Cardinal Burke’s Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Le Crosse Wisconsin. When I heard about it, I could not believe that he actually built the Shrine with two side altars, a baldacchino over the altar and an altar rail.
Every Sunday, Benediction is broadcast from the Shrine. It is done with great reverence and respect. The nuns sing beautifully, the vestments and monstrance are beautiful, and the altar boys are reverent.
In every way we have seen traditional growth over the years. We have seen more and more latin put into the Novus Ordo mass. We have seen the vestments become more and more traditional. We have heard more and more traditional music. There has been a natural progression to what Mother Angelic had experience in her church from before Vatican II. At the Shrine everyone has to kneel for Holy Communion at the altar rail and receive on the tongue. That does not happen on the televised daily mass. Again this is because the bishops say it would cause too much confusion.
Before Pope Benedict gave us the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Raymond Arroyo was talking about how excited he was to have the Latin Mass once again. I got up early (5 am) on September 14, 2007 to watch the Latin Mass broadcast live from the Shrine by EWTN. When I went back there I was invited to come to the special Latin Masses that were being offered by Fr. Christopher with the nuns accompanying it with beautiful voices. All the priest of the Franciscans of the Eternal Word were excited and learning the difficult Latin Mass.
But some how it has stopped being a new focus and instead it is back to a well done Novus Ordo mass. The traditional growth has for some reason stopped.
I know many people who live near the Shrine. When I go back, I offer the Latin Mass down in the crypt. Word would get around and all the lovers of the traditional mass would come. But I have heard over and over from them that things are not the same around the shrine. These people moved to the Shrine to be near Catholic tradition. That is what they once found so sacred and rare, the Novus Ordo mass celebrated in a reverent way. But most of the people around the shrine have grown spiritually and traditionally and now want to go to the Latin Mass. Sine there use to be no daily Latin Mass being offered before, they would still go to the shrine for daily mass.
Now a traditional order from the Philippines has taken over Christ the King monastery in Cullman. So they are so happy to have not only Sunday Latin Mass, but also daily Latin Mass. My friends have organized a great choir for that mass every sunday too.
So we do not evolve form one thing to another like modernist do. We grow organically in love of what is sacred and traditional. That is what tradition means, growing and building on the past. Jesus is the Catholic Church’s corner stone and we continue to build according to His plan and direction. Thank God for all that Mother Angelica and EWTN have done for the Church. We pray that they will catch up to where the Holy Spirit is moving. But in the mean time, we need to carry on the growing, spreading and restoring of our traditional Catholic faith.
We are not extremist traditional Catholics, as we are always labeled. No, we are simply following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully you will see that you are as important as Mother Angelica was in her time. Use your money, time and talents to restore Catholic tradition in any way you feel the Holy Spirit guiding you. Again I want to say we need a traditional world wide TV station that is traditional today.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.