ewtn-interviews-025Our next day started with breakfast at St Bernard’s monastery where Brother Christopher made our crew acquainted with the Benedictine Brew the Monastery’s coffee blend and then we were off to pick up our other pilgrims and run a few errands with our new Bus driver and headed for the EWTN studios in Irondale for our day there.

Benedictine Brew
Benedictine Brew
Benedictine Brew[/caption]

The Site of EWTN was the original location of Mother Angelica’s monastery before she built and moved to the Shrine of the most blessed sacrament in Hanceville. When we arrived Our day began with the Noon mass at the chapel (which is not televised) That is where I met Lucy who you might recognize if you watch the daily mass the short oriental lady who goes every day. It turned out her daughter lives in Fitchburg which was quite a coincidence. Several pilgrims from other groups were just as excited to meet her as the various EWTN celebs and priests and posed for a picture with her that I took for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had a late lunch in the small cafeteria area for pilgrims where we met Brother Leo of the “Hey Brother Leo” book series who sat for a brief interview

also on site was Jack Williams from EWTN Radio’s morning glory and open line who would be joining us on Fr. Pacwa’s show later that evening.

this was immediately followed by an hour long talk from Fr. Miguel on God’s calling. Here is a brief excerpt:

After our talk our group was divided into two groups, one went with Fr. Leo and the other with a woman named porta who sat for an interview later on Friday:

sets on wheels
sets on wheels
I was in Porta’s group and she led us thorough the EWTN studio’s where we would be going later in the evening for Fr. Pacwa’s show. A few of us took pictures on the set while it was empty.

She also showed up Mother Angelica’s office which had become a green room for guests.

Most of the various set backgrounds were on wheels so they could be quickly switched for one show to the other. Various other set backgrounds from shows no longer on the air were stored on site.

After that section we were taken to the technical area where the various technicians were located. I asked about hackers and they said while there were occasional attacks they had no luck getting in, of course being EWTN being a religious network the wasn’t a lot of incentive for the various financial hackers to target them.

the Caption Lady
the Caption Lady

As the tour continued I fell behind to talk to various workers who had been there or decades. Many had been surprised to find themselves at EWTN but it had really been a home to them.

When the tour was over we had dinner at EWTN again in the cafeteria area. While there I spoke to the oldest pilgrim in our group.

As well as Fr. Leonard Mary who had been in Fitchburg for a pilgrimage last year who remembered me (I told you the scarf comes in handy)

after dinner we had some free time to pray the liturgy of the hours, visit the blessed sacrament or get confession before the evening’s show.

Our group was the largest of those at EWTN but there were others from Texas and a few individuals who had also come to join us in the audience live.

Two Camera men were on opposite sides to take shots one focused on Fr. Pacwa and one to focus on his guest. Additionally there was one stationary camera set to catch the pair of them. A monitor on the side wall showed us which camera was feeding live at any given time.

The audience for the show
The audience for the show
Before the Show Fr. Pacwa came out in a cowboy hat and gave us some brief instructions or the live show remind us that if we were looking at the monitor rather than the show when the engineer turned to the audience we would be looking away. He joked once the video was available on DVD or online could watch the broadcast freeze the broadcast and look at ourselves on TV to our hearts content.

The show ran an hour, the first guest was Jack Williams who I had interviewed earlier who briefly talked about EWTN radio and plugged our station.

The Primary guest was Peter Williamson who has written a series of biblical commentaries

During the first break they asked who wanted to ask questions. We raised our hands they asked us what the questions were and then had us line up to the side. When our turn would come they signaled go to the mike and Fr would call on us when he was ready.

When he called on me they he asked jokingly if I had been told the EWTN studios were in Alaska rather than alabama because of the scarf.

When the show was over it turned out there was an issue with the initial into of Jack Williams so we watched as they re-recorded Fr. Mitch’s brief into of Jack for the broadcast, made slightly more complicated by him not being there so Fr. had to make sure that he faced toward where Jack was supposed to be.

When that was done Fr. Pacwa started taking pictures with people. that went on for long while. I took advantage of that time to interview his guest Peter Williamson

When I was done the pictures continued unabated. It was as if every single person there wanted a shot but despite the long day Fr. Pacwa did have a few minutes for me.

By this time it was really late so we piled on the bus and said our goodbyes and we headed back for the night, where we at the monastery packed as Wednesday would be our last night there and the next day would start early.

Castle San Miguel
Castle San Miguel
We left the abbey heading for Shirine of the most blessed sacrament, picking up our guest house people on the way.

There is a single entrance to the site down a country road filled with farmland horses and cattle grazing calmly nearby giving no clue as to what is to be found at the end of the road.

There were very few members of the group who had been to the shrine and the Castle that sits upon it but even so it remained an imposing sight as you approach it.

When you walk into the medieval style keep this is what you see

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Conference Room
this is the area used for conferences dining (items are catered and brought in). It also contains the rather large and very catholic gift shop full of coins, prayer cards and medals. As our catholic supply store in the Fitchburg area closed I loaded up on small bottles for holy water to be given out a few of which I filled from the taps connected to huge tanks of holy water kept in the nativity area next to the castle

For those who are not catholic be aware that all such items are just that items that can be bought and sold until blessed by a priest or deacon, once blessed they can NOT be sold either by a gift shop or by the person who had them blessed. No legit catholic gift shop will sell a blessed item.

The Courtyard
The Courtyard

We then filled into the conference room for a talk on the origins of Mother Angelica, her vocation and the Shrine of the most blessed sacrament. I set up a mic for the talk next to her podium so I caught all of her speech but in the Q & A you’ll only hear the “A” not the “Q”

When the talk was over we headed for mass at the lower chapel where Mother Angelica is buried. No photography is allowed there so naturally I have no images to show you. I was struck that not only was the Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated Ad Orientem but communion was received kneeling at the altar rail with an altar boy holding a salver under a chin, both of which I found very appealing.

Touring the Eucharistic Center
Touring the Eucharistic Center
After mass we had some time before our tour of the John Paul II Eucharistic Center we spent some time at the grave of Mother Angelica. We pressed rosaries against her grave that the station planned to give away and prayed a rosary for the person who would be receiving it.

A bit later we visited the Eucharistic Center. The last time I was there the young knights of the Holy Eucharist were the tour guides, but they had been transferred to Nebraska so a gentleman name Micah gave the tour.

When the Tour was over he took a few minutes to speak to me about his job.

The Vast Collection of Relics of Saints
The Vast Collection of Relics of Saints

When the tour was over and after a quick sandwich we had free time. I spent mine at Mother’s grave with several hundred rosaries saying a Hail Mary over each as I touched them to her grave.

Soon it was time to head back to St. Benedict Abbey where I visited and filmed the famous Grotto.

And interviewed Brother Christopher who gave us the history of brother Joseph

From there we were back to the cafeteria at St. Bernard Abbey where I interviewed one of the students who attended the school.

At St. Bernard Abbey
At St. Bernard Abbey
However at this point things took a turn for the worse. Our bus driver had been a tad under the weather on day one, by that evening he was in horrible pain. we had a pair of nurses on the trip who took a look at him and it was decided he needed to get to the local hospital. We had no way of getting him there. The Taxi services stopped running early, there was no Uber or Lyft and we failed to get ahold of the local parish or Knight of Columbus that we hoped to get a hand from. Eventually our driver drove to the hospital in his bus with our nurses with him while the rest of us took up a Rosary Circle. One of the Nurses takes up the story.

In the end our driver got the treatment he needed while a substitute driver arrived from Atlanta while he waited to be treated. Ironically our substitute had driven for our tour leader Maryann before and while our primary driver would have a day of rest we would be getting ready for our trip to the EWTN studio the next day.


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I spoke to Fr. Mitch Pacwa after sitting in on his live show during my Trip to EWTN with the WQPH pilgrimage group.

The most important line? “If you don’t have time to pray they’ll be nothing” Now that’s a priest

I also interviewed his guest that day Author Peter Williamson who is writing commentaries of scripture:

The Show is here you might recognize the fellow in the scarf asking a question on air in at 35:50

Incidentally you also might recognize the room where I interviewed Fr Pacwa as Mother Angelica’s old office at EWTN where she was miraculously a couple of decades ago

If Mother Angelica is ever canonized that room would be full of 1st class relics (Things that were in physical contact with a saint). If that happens I guess I would technically become a 3rd class relic (Something that has been in contact with a 1st class relic).

I interviewed Brother Leo of the “Hey Brother Leo” series of Children’s books at EWTN

It’s important to remember that the Catholic faith is built on reason.

NOTE: You might have wondered what happened to this post. Due to a critical database error this post (originally posted Monday night) my scheduled lead post for Tuesday were both totally destoryed, not even a trace and my 2nd alabama trip post nearly so. That might sound bad but 2 hours earlies I had lost EVERY post from 2016 after Jan 16th so I’m going to count my blessings.

on the set ewtn
on the set ewtn
My Trip to Alabama came about not so much as planned as requested. WQPH panned a pilgrimage to Mother Angelica’s grave to commemorate the nativity of the blessed mother.

With money tight my plans were to give it a miss but Mary Ann Harold of WQPH needed someone to shoot audio and interviews and if you know MaryAnn you will know it’s impossible to say no to her when he is trying to win souls for the Lord. So through a combination of permission to get a week off from work a ride from my brother and an increase in credit card debt not normally encouraged in conservatives I found myself at Logan Airport at 2:45 AM on Monday morning.

airport decour
airport decour

Our group of 30 boarded our flight with Southwest on time (for the first time ever I was in the “A” group so I planted myself at the back of the plane meaning to get 45 minutes of sleep on the flight to Baltimore when the pilot announced that the plane had a fuel leak and we would be delayed as it was repaired and the required paperwork filled out. While this offered excellent opportunities for sleep it meant we might not make our connecting flight in Baltimore to Birmingham which would disrupt our entire schedule. This type of thing seems to happen a lot on our pilgrimages almost as if something objected to it.

Da pilgrimage bus
Da pilgrimage bus

Eventually while I slept the plane was repaired and all the paperwork filled out and when I woke up we were in the air preparing to land in Baltimore. We were very behind and I saw a lot of trouble getting our people and luggage to the next plane but Southwest gave us a hand, deciding to use our current plane for the flight to Birmingham which quite erased the time we lost for the repairs.

After a short wait we were greeted by the large bus to for the 28 of us toward our destinations. We were in two groups. One opted to get more private accommodations at guest houses rentable near Mother Angelica’s monistary

Of of several guest houses near the shrine of the most blessed sacrament.
One of several guest houses near the shrine of the most blessed sacrament.
where over the course of the year pilgrims who want a bit more privacy but quick access to the shrine stay. We also dropped off a pair of priests at a special retreat center for priests at the shrine. Clergy are allowed to stay there free of charge on retreat to help them recharge for their 24/7 vocation.
The retreat center
The retreat center

The rest of us continued to Cullman Alabama to St. Bernard Monastery and school were we had accommodates for three of the four nights of our stay. We were lucky to get that time as a group of deacons were coming to the St. Bernards for retreat that week but there were willing to shoehorn us in to help us out. Yet another of the little things that went right when things seemed ready to go wrong.

Brother Christopher
Brother Christopher
. The plan was for mass at the Monastery followed by dinner but even with the nap on the plane I needed to get a little shut eye but by the time I woke up mass was long over and I just made dinner at the cafeteria where the resident students (who had not arrived yet as it was labor day) normally eat
the chapel at St Bernard Abbey
the chapel at St Bernard Abbey

After dinner we all prepared to crash. In the retreat building there was plenty of religious art and old books. I found a 115 year old volume of Catholic classics and read some Aquinas as I went to bed. It was going to be a very full next couple of days.

The next morning I walked to the Abbey church figuring to catch morning mass, but it turned out the monks had their mass at 5 PM so instead I prayed my morning prayers before the blessed sacrament. Many of the monks were on retreat but I was able to get an interview with Fr Kevin McGrath who had been at the Abbey for almost my entire life and later with our bus driver who owned the company

Little did we know that the curves on the road would not be the only ones facing us and him.


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Baldilocks is tied up and her piece will go up thursday so to tide you over here are a pair of videos from the St. John Paul II Eucharistic Center at Mother angelica’s Monastery:

The role of Saint Juliana and Thomas Aquinas on the feast of Corpus Christi

and an interview with the gentleman who presented the tour

And lets throw in a few photos too

Meet one of the monks/priests at St Bernard Abbey in Cullman Alabama Fr. Ken McGrath

It’s really something to think of a man being a monk since I was five years old but what’s really something is to check out this page and see how many of the monks here are young enough to be my kids.

Orthodoxy creates vocations

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.

Psalm 118:22-23

There is a long essay at the National Catholic Reporter (or as Father Z calls it the national schismatic reporter) on the success of EWTN:

What could work, and what Mother Angelica undertook, was to create a Catholic Fox News. They would not be Catholic in the broad sense of the word, embracing all, but would be sectarian, embracing a particular narrative of the church at this moment in history.

The writer asks the question that liberal Catholics who hate EWTN the way the Church hates Satan want to know the answer to:

Now, in the reign of Pope Francis, bishops are being asked to reexamine some of their presuppositions about what engagement in the public square should look like, and not just public engagement, but evangelization and catechesis and pastoral practice. Lord knows they are not willing to challenge Mr. Anderson: They never know when they will need him to cut them a check. The USCCB is used to serve the objectives of about half the conference. And EWTN? Will any bishop stand up and challenge them to be less sectarian and partisan? I am not counting on it. The tributes from the hierarchy at the time of her death were excessive, at least if you compared them to the tributes to countless other women religious who have gone to God after having given their lives to the church, women religious who have thoroughly lived out Pope Francis’ vision of “a poor church for the poor.”

As a Knight of Columbus I find that hit on our Supreme Knight Carl Anderson a bit offensive but all of it misses a vital point as to why EWTN continues to grow and furthermore continues to influence the generation of catholics who are actually entering the clergy and shaping the church of the future.

The Strength and success of EWTN has been constructed on top of a single foundation which follows:

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

For those readers who don’t know this that is the Nicene Creed, it is recited at almost every Catholic Mass.  It expresses the fundamentals of what The Catholic Church teaches and believes.

That’s EWTN’s secret,  hidden in plain sight, they assume the Creed, the Catechism, the Doctrines and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church are all true and they act accordingly.

It’s as simple as that,  and the National Catholic Reporter’s inability to grasp this speaks volumes.

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♫  And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,
Satisfied.

Keep the Customer Satisfied Simon & Garfunkel 1970

Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations”. You see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game.

C.S. Lewis Screwtape 25

There has been a lot written in the past week about EWTN, Mother Angelica and the secret of her success.

I think there is one factor that everyone is overlooking, and the clue to it comes from a post from 2014 about the conversion of congressman Keith Ellison to Islam:

Well part of it is what I didn’t know about Catholicism even though I went to Catholic school but other part of it was the social justice aspect, the ah inclusion,

Ellison converted at 19.  He is three months younger than me so that means he converted in 1982.  and went to catholic school before then, in the years before EWTN, yet years of Catholic school didn’t teach him of his own faith.

This perfectly illustrates what had happened to the American Church post Vatican II.

The church was big about social justice and about inclusion but not about actually teaching the truths of the faith.

Then along comes Mother Angelica and what does she do?

She unapologetically presents the truth of the faith, heaven, hell, purgatory.  

She unapologetically presents the scripture as it is.

She unapologetically quotes the saints of old not caring one whit if their message was not “modern” enough.

She unapologetically pushes the Rosary, Adoration, the Prayer of St. Michael, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and traditional Catholic practices that the American Church had ignored.

She unapologetically proclaims catholic morality and the consequences of avoiding it:

In other words she catechesis 

The church in the US choose to leave those things behind, and Mother Angelica decided to pick up the mantle that they abandoned.

Suddenly a person who is interested in the faith or feels the call of God suddenly had a place to go to find out about the faith away from the spin of the media or the filter of the liberal church.

Suddenly there was a message that valued the church not or what it could be used for but because of the Truth of Christ and the salvation it brings.

Suddenly there was a Poor Clare Nun doing the work of Priests, Bishops and Cardinals to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”  (Mark 16:15)

And through that work came the vocations that orders who abandoned the habit lacked.  As I once noted:

according to an article not online the youngest woman in the order is 57 years old.  That’s six years older than me.

And along with the lack of young sisters to sustain the order the money dried up as well.

Now I’m certainly not going to question a single one of their vocations, but let’s contrast their situation with the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word in Alabama.  Their median age is not only younger than me, when I visited them I met women young enough to be my children both discerning vocations and active as nuns.

 

Of course Mother, if she was alive, she would explain that it’s all due to the grace of God and this is of course true but the grace of God was there because she was doing his will.

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Darth Vader: Your powers are weak, old man.
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

Star Wars 1977

Yesterday on Easter Sunday Mother Angelica died at the age of 92.

She was a living contradiction.

She was a poor nun who lived with a group of sisters while at the same time the founder of a media empire that reached the entire globe.

She was an old woman dehabilitated by a stroke who could do very little, yet she loved live regardless of her state and wanted to live.

She was a person steeped in self denial, Yet the more she gave the more she continually got.

All that she preaches has been attacked and to some degree rejected by the larger culture lately yet through her efforts and God’s help she pretty much saved the Catholic Faith in America.

The most amazing contradiction is that while Christianity has lost or is losing the culture war in America while at the same time she has fought the culture war and winning it in the Catholic Church first in America and now extending it throughout the world.

Consider when she started EWTN with nothing, what the state of Catachresis, that is understanding of the Catholic faith was in America. It was poor at best and nonexistent. The message of Vatican II had been twisted by the left to the point where the message of Christ became: “Don’t offend anyone, get along with the world.” This would be news to Christ who said:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.”

Matt 10:3-36

If you want to ask what kind of vocations the church of don’t offend anyone by the truth produced in the Church simply look at the biggest headlines concerning the Church since 2000  nationally and internationally about the Catholic Church has been?

I submit and suggest that is not a coincidence.

 

At the same time the church abandoned it’s mission to push back at the world and be shy about truth Mother Angelica started EWTN as a tiny television in 1981 in Alabama.

While other people were running away from Truth she ran toward it saying blunting talking about faith, heaven, hell and above all speaking truth even as the greater culture was rejecting it.

And as EWTN grew those looking for an anchor in the faith found her as her network expanded on both Television and in Radio where it became the defacto goto choices for the Catholic faith.

While other orders with a watered down faith died Mother Angelica continued to inspire the young.  You would be hard pressed to find a young priest or nun in America who had not spent many house watching EWTN or listening to EWTN radio.

And while the secular media spun the church, the faith and the Pope(s) EWTN gave things as they were from the Mass every day so that people could see it, steeped in scripture, as it was and not as others described it.

They covered and do cover the Pope live so that when the media spins him faithful Catholics would be able to see things as they happened and not as it was cut.

And the priests and faithful that she attracted spread the word knowing that it was all about souls, all about telling the truth that Christ has given through the church with spin or apology.

There were plenty both inside and outside the church who pushed against her but St. Michael The Archangel was with her.  One story:

It is customary to place short-wave antennae in flat open fields, 
making it all the more peculiar that Mother Angelica should decide 
to place her antennae on a mountain top. According to Mother 
Angelica, St. Michael (the Archangel) appeared to her when she 
first visited the mountain. It is there, on the site where St. 
Michael's appeared, that Mother would decide to erect the 
antennae. Flying in the face of all the experts, the antennae 
reach millions a day. But no one can explain just how. Even the 
British Broadcasting Company has sent a team of experts to try to 
unearth the reason. They are still baffled. The folks at EWTN have 
their own answer: divine providence.

Can one measure the fruits of the decades of EWTN?  The number of manhours of service to others by those inspired by Mother Angelica is incalculable, and the reason is that it was never about her, it was about God and souls.

And that’s why she was and will remain hated by many, because her life,in constant pain, was a living testament against the message of the world and in death she leaves behind not only EWTN the sword that Christ described to fight against the world for the souls of man, but now finds herself in a position to intervene in a way even beyond the reach of the worldwide network that brings the message of Christ.

Closing thought, I often link to Robert Stacy McCain as he writes about various feminist women railing against the world.  Ask yourself if they are stronger than this little Italian Nun.  Ask yourself if they will have will have the impact and the consequence of this woman.

The answer of course is, they CAN, if they choose to embrace the path she did and follow Christ and live accordingly and it is not too late for anyone one of them to do so.