My Mother---The Church
by Mother M. Angelica, Foundress of EWTN
The word "Church" means many things to many people. To some the Church is
merely a structure a body of laws designed to make everyone as miserable as possible an
authoritarian body which takes delight in exercising the prerogative of telling the world
what it can and cannot do.
There are others who look upon the Church as a vehicle through which God reveals
Himself, His truths and His Will. Others look upon it as the "opium of the
people" or an organization that is guided by the will and whims of its members. Some
look upon the Church as the embodiment of the arts and treasures of past ages a kind of
giant museum, rich in tradition and historical data, rich in material wealth but frugal in
the distribution of that wealth.
Still others see the Church as a political power, able to influence the destinies of
nations. Conservatives see the Church as the epitome of sound doctrine and dogma while
liberals see it as a source of sustenance for the poor, justice for the downtrodden and a
defense of the helpless. Fervent souls look upon the Church as a dispenser of grace
through a sacramental system. Lukewarm souls have a half-hearted confidence in the
realization that the Church will always be there when and if they need it. Souls who have
chosen evil sometimes are more knowledgeable as to the true role of the Church and for
that reason hate everything it stands for.
We could go on and on as to what the opinions and feelings of people are towards the
Church. We could look at various theological aspects of its teaching authority and its
apostolic succession, but we would inevitably reach an impasse with argument piled upon
argument. With this in mind let us look at the Church and its function as St. Paul did and
see it for what it isthe Bride of Christ the Mother from whose womb of grace each of
us was born to a new life a life of Sonship.
Jesus lived, died and rose to give birth to the Church. Through the Spirit He wed her
to Himself, perpetuates His Presence through her sacraments, generates holy souls, raises
those dead in sin to life and continually feeds His children with the truth.
God created us to His Image and that image is not only in the individual soul, but in
the Church. Just as there are Three Persons in one God, three faculties in each soul,
three elements to each family, so it is in the Church. The Church is the Dispenser of the
Father's truth. It is the Bride of Jesus and is guided by His Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son in the Trinity, as
children brought forth from the love of husband and wife, so the Church, this gift of the
Father, wedded to His Son, constantly brings forth the fruit of holiness through the power
of the Spirit in all her children.
The Word became Incarnate in the womb of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This Divine Mystery is constantly reenacted as the Eternal Word is mirrored more and more
perfectly in the Bride of Christ as she gives Jesus to her children in the Eucharist,
heals their wounds in Confession, ennobles their love through the Sacrament of Marriage,
makes mere men priests of God through Ordination and sons of God in Baptism, enriches them
with gifts in Confirmation and then lightens their burden on their journey home through
The Church is a Mother because she is a Bride who is forever bringing forth children of
light, pillars of holiness, sources of inspiration, challengers of truth, and defenders of
Yes, she has structures, laws, treasures, authority and human frailties mixed with
Divine power, but we must look at the whole Church and not just part of her. What son of
an earthly mother tells his friends that his mother is nothing but an ugly skeleton
covered over with muscle and skin? What kind of son picks apart every fault and weakness
in his mother and broadcasts it to everyone willing to listen? A child who concentrates
only on the authority a mother has to correct and punish and refuses to see the deep love
and concern behind the reproaches, leads an unbalanced existence a life of self-pity and
It is difficult to understand a child who criticizes the art treasures of his parents
while partaking of the beauty of those treasures whenever he pleases. This would be
especially true if those treasures were available for the poorest of the poor to see and
enjoy. Would he be happier if all the treasures in the Church were sold to private
collectors and hidden forever from the eyes of the poor? It is amazing how our human
nature manages to concoct such tailor-made excuses to cover our antipathies for the
Church. Many children hate their parents because they are corrected and directed by them
and so it is with Holy Mother Church. When she speaks about the necessity for high morals,
deep faith and self-control, human nature rebels and she becomes the mean step-mother the
domineering parent, the epitome of archaic ideals. Then it is that foolproof reasons are
created to explain their rebellion and make them feel justified. The garments of love,
loyalty and humility are replaced with the hard steel of pride and the acid ice of
arrogance. No gentle persuasion can penetrate this coat of steel, for these misguided
people mistake themselves for knights in shining armor, championing the cause of the
misunderstood and misrepresented.
A true child of this God-given Mother is not one who is blind to her faults, weaknesses
and wounds, but one who is discerning enough to see her need for improvement for healing
for greater zeal and for generosity; loving enough to see her virtues, grace, truth and
power and zealous enough to do something positive to help rather than something negative
We pride ourselves on building up those in despair, feeding the hungry, clothing the
naked and giving a cup of cold water to the thirsty. Why do we not render these same
services to the Church? Does she not desire that her children thirst for the living water
of holiness? Does she not look for her children to bear the fruits of the Spirit? Does she
not feel the nakedness of her children as they are despoiled of Faith, Hope and Love by
the spirit of this world? Does she not longingly wait for those who have left to return to
the Father's house? Is her heart not broken as she sees so many of her children exposing
their souls to the danger of hell? What anguish tears at her heart as so many refuse the
healing balm of Confession or the angelic food of the Eucharist?
What madness possesses our minds and souls, blinds our senses, and hardens our hearts
toward so good a Mother? We pride ourselves on our maturity, freedom and intelligence and
then proceed to act like spoiled children who have been refused the privilege of playing
with fire. We use our souls and our future like a game of Russian Roulette pulling
every trigger of presumption, pride and arrogance to see what happens! Unfortunately, like
those who play the game, there is no turning back if one loses.
* * * * *
"So I now say to you: you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church."
(Matt. 16;18) Jesus had just asked the apostles who men thought He was. It was a good
question and we see Jesus listening for their answer. It was Simon who said, "You are
the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus responded quickly. He told all the
apostles that the Father had revealed this secret to Simon and then for the first time in
history, an ordinary everyday word that meant "rock" became a name - Peter.
Jesus promised us that this Church would last till the end of time and all hell would not
prevail against it. The Church was then as it is now, an assembly of faithful followers of
Jesus as Lord. As Jesus appointed Peter head, the other apostles looked to him from that
moment as the one who had the responsibility of this assembly of people the Church. It was
Peter whom Jesus asked to feed His sheep and lambs Peter who was given the keys of the
kingdom to bind and loose, Peter who boldly preached to the crowds on Pentecost, Peter who
punished Ananias and Sapphira for their deceit, Peter who made the final decision as to
circumcision, Peter whom Paul sought out to assure himself that what he taught was
There was a special deference for Peter among the apostles and we see this at the
Resurrection. John was much younger than Peter. He arrived at the tomb before him, but
waited waited until Peter arrived and entered first. This deference is even more
pronounced when we consider Peter had denied Jesus, had fallen deeply on a personal level.
His human weaknesses had, for a fearful moment overtaken him and he was less than a leader
should be. John, however, saw something in Peter that human weakness could not diminish
and that was authority. That authority was given by the Father and only the Father could
take it away. Peter's personal faults were something between him and God, but at that
moment John saw the Vicar of Christ and only that Vicar would go into the tomb to assure
himself and all ages after him that the Christ had truly risen.
As it was then, so it is now it is the prerogative of his successor to pronounce other
mysteries of God to the people in order to assure that assembly of the truths God reveals.
After the Resurrection Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the holy women and the
disciples going to Emmaus, but the credibility gap disappeared only when the disciples
heard the eleven assembled together declare, "Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and
has appeared to Peter." (Luke 24:34) The greatest mystery of Faith in the Christian
religion was declared by the Eleven with Peter as their leader. Peter, who had special
light from the Father to declare the Messiahship of Jesus, declared the Resurrection of
Jesus because he had seen Him. There was no question about Peter's special gifts from God.
He was set aside to declare the mysteries of God and the will of God to the assembly. This
was a gift from the Father to Peter and was not dependent upon Peter's holiness,
personality, temperament or character. He had his weakness, but when He spoke as one with
special authorityit was the Lord speaking.
When Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter about their sale of property, Peter said to
them, "How can Satan have so possessed you that you should lie to the Holy
Spirit...IT is not to men that you have lied but to God."(Acts. 5:3,4) A strange
statement from a man who just recently committed a greater sin by denying he knew Jesus.
Was the one who was forgiven much unable to forgive or understand a moment of weakness? Or
was it that Peter was not speaking as a man, but as Peter the Rock -the Leader? In that
capacity he was the Vicar of Christ. In this light then Peter could rightly say that
Ananias lied to the Spirit. Yes, we must ask ourselves the question, "Do those who
hate the Church know they are only hating themselves, for the Church is the Assembly of
people and they are part of the human race - the soul of the Church? In hating the Vicar
of Christ do they not mock the spirit of Christ as He guides His people?
* * * * *
"He has put all things under his feet, and made him, as the ruler of everything,
the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole
creation." (Eph. 1:23) Paul told the Ephesians that by redeeming us Jesus broke down
the barrier that kept the Jews and gentiles apart. Through the cross he reconciled all
mankind to the Father and drew them together into a single Body.
Paul explained at length that we are "no longer aliens among a chosen people"
but brothers who share the same Father. "Through Him, both of us (Jews and gentiles)
have in the one Spirit our way to the Father." (Eph. 3:18) This single Body may be
rent asunder by dissension, false prophets, heresies or schism but that Body the Church
continues to seek out, care, provide for and protect its members regardless of race, color
or creed. This mystery of the Church was deep indeed for the first Christians. The chosen
people were accustomed to being set apart as the minority who knew the true God. Now, Paul
is telling them that Jesus came and died for all men and through His Bride, the Church,
all mankind had the opportunity to know God and His mysteries. Salvation for all men was
shocking news for the chosen people. "This mystery," Paul continued to explain,
"has now been revealed through the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets."
It is here that Paul gives us the twofold mission of the Church and her ordained
priests. "I, who am less than the least of all the saints, have been entrusted with
this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ
but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed." People must not only hear
the message, but also hear an explanation of that message. They need to know how to apply
the message to daily life. These applications and interpretations are to bear the stamp of
truth, for Jesus is truth. God is bound in justice to give His people the truth in regard
to every facet of Christian living.
"I wanted you to know," Paul said, "how people ought to behave in God's
family that is, in the Church of the living God, which holds the truth and keeps it
safe." (I Tim. 3:15) Yes, holy Mother Church proclaims, declares, explains and keeps
the truth safe from the reach of the Enemy.
To despise such a Mother is to hate oneself, water down the nourishment that feeds the
soul and hold one's neighbor in contempt. We insult the Christ whose Spirit guides the
Church, This Body, the Church began with the flowing of His Precious Blood and the
outpouring of His Spirit. It is no small offense to criticize, ridicule or downgrade
something that is so dear to the Heart of God and for whom He gave so much.
When family life decays, so does love for the Church. The family and the Church are
interwoven as one large family composed of many individual families. The union of heart,
the love and concern, the mutual upbuilding of members is the same in both.
Family life is based on the same spiritual foundation as the Church. Paul explained
this as a mystery and told the first Christians that a man must love his wife in the same
way Christ loves His Bride, the Church. "He made her clean by washing her in, water
(Baptism) with the form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be
glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless."
(Eph. 5:25) This is how a husband is to love his wife for if he hates her, he hates
himself. "A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and
that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is his body and we are its living
parts.?" (Eph. 5:28- 29)
So it is with the Church as she feeds us with the Sacraments and builds us up with
sound doctrine and truth, we in turn become living images of her Spouse, Jesus. We spring
forth from Bride and Bridegroom, bearing the likeness of the Father and the seal of the
Spirit on our souls. When we are faithful and true sons and daughters of this holy Mother,
our family life will begin to reflect the peace, joy, harmony and love this Mother places
in our souls.
When we hate her we only hate ourselves for we are part of her Body and Jesus is our
Head. To alienate ourselves from Him and His Bride is to cut ourselves off from the Vine.
How can we possibly expect the return of family harmony when we despise the source of
We must be zealous to spread her message, fervent so we may radiate that message,
loving so others may see that message in our lives, loyal so that message is obeyed no
matter how difficult. When this spirit of love and zeal possesses our hearts, we will all
have the courage to be a yeast in the dough of our families and mankind.
Change begins with individuals, radiates to others and in turn gives them the courage
to change. Harmony, loyalty, love and peace in the Church and in the family must grow
together. In proportion as one or the other succeeds or fails, in that proportion will
each bear fruit or decay.
The Spirit who guides the Church will bear fruit in Church and families together as
they are the Body of Christ on earth.
"Now the Church is his body, he is its head....l am suffering now, in my own body
to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of
his body, the Church." (Col. 1:18,24) "The saints (the faithful) together make a
unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ." (Eph. 4:12) Yes, we
all work together, building, giving hope, courage and strength to Church and family - the
Body of Christ.
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