Mother Angelica passed away on Easter Sunday passed, at the age of 92. A lifetime of pain, sorrow, suffering and great accomplishment is finished here on earth. A lifetime of immense power, strength and great deeds now begins.
Catholic Answers Live has devoted time to mourning her in what I think is a really appropriate and cool way. The show has solicited "Mother Stories" from their Listeners and everyone who has called in has done so with such joy and appreciation for all this little nun did in their lives.
I did not call in - I was driving and the host is always very good about telling people that calling on a Bluetooth does not make for a good connection. However, I have a Mother Story myself and I want to share it.
In the year 2000 I was 8 years sober and had just embarked on my last attempt at having my life be MY way. I had gotten myself into a horrible relationship with a man who turned out to be a con artist and a fake Vietnam vet. It broke my heart and I came close to drinking. I didn't - pure anger kept me sober - but one of the things I realized was that I needed to be real about my commitment to The Church. I had not been up to that time; rather, I had been willing to throw away my soul in order to have a boyfriend and assuage my loneliness.
That same year I bought a little Scottish Terrier puppy. He was my second Scottie and I named him Shaw's Roddy MacDuff. Roddy was a special dog. He bonded with me immediately in a way no other dog had before and our relationship really helped me heal from the heartache my own stupidity had caused me. We attended obedience classes together, just so he would learn the basics, and it turned out he had 'the chip' - the talent for performing. We began to compete and for a brief few years I participated in the fabulous world of Canine Obedience Competition.
People would make fun of us when we showed up at meets. See, Scotties are not known for Obedience Competition and they would say funny things like, "Nice to meet you. Where's the dog you are going to compete?". I would point at Roddy and shrug. "We are just here to have some fun", I would say, and then we would go into the ring and kick Golden Retriever BUTT.
Roddy won the San Joaquin Kennel Show and we met Julia Priest, dog trainer extraordinaire, who invited me to learn with her how to prepare him for Utility Dog competition. For those who are unaware, that is like a dog getting a PhD in Obedience Training. We went up for a few lessons, I bought the gear and we started training. Roddy was 5 years old.
I had healed. I was back in the arms of Holy Mother Church. I was a Catechist. I was sober. I was starting to discern my vocation as a Dominican. Life was solid and good.
One day I went to say good bye to Roddy and noticed his throat felt swollen. I ask my Mom to take him to the Vet for a check up. She called me later that day, sobbing.
Roddy had Lymphoma.
Roddy lived for another 10 weeks. He died at home. I was bereft. I also felt so grateful to have had that dog. I don't know how to explain it - to be so sad and so grateful at the same time! I went to St Joe's RCIA that night and shared with someone that my beloved pet had died. The woman, a very good Catholic, said something rather dismissive and I know she did not intend to be mean to me but it stung like crazy. The fact that I did not lash out at her is a testament to my Guardian Angel, not me. I wanted to rip her head off but I didn't. Instead, I went home and for the first time in 11 years I smoked a cigarette. It was better than drinking, right? RIGHT.
That night for some reason I turned on EWTN. I am not a regular watcher - I watch for special things but I have my own shows that I like and so am not one of those Faithful Catholics that have EWTN on 24/7. But that night I turned it on and there she was - Mother Angelica. It was a rerun, of course, but I listened to her and at the end of the show I did something really out of character for me:
I wrote her a letter.
I poured out my sorrow over losing my dog, how he had kept me sane after that stupid relationship and that sanity had brought me more fully into the Church. I told her how I missed him so much and how alone I felt, how unloved and unlovable. I wrote that I wish I could have saved him and how my giving him medicine to try and save him had made him so sick his last week on earth and how sorry I was for doing that but that I had just wanted to save him. I poured out my heart to that nun, crying as I wrote, and thinking the entire time "you are an idiot. Every good Catholic knows animals have material souls and are not humans". I enclosed a donation - some little sum, nothing much - and the next day I mailed the letter. I never expected to hear back.
Well, I did.
I received the usual "Thank you for your donation" letter from EWTN...but at the bottom, in her own handwriting, she had written, "Dear Heart, don't you ever think dogs are not important. I know your Roddy was your Guardian Angel, just like St John Bosco's Grecio was his, and I bet that Angel will be there to meet you in heaven, tail wagging. Your job will be to get there to be with him. Now get cracking!".
I have that letter in the box with Roddy's stuff. His medals and ribbons, a picture from his last show when he beat all the other dogs there and so impressed Julia with his talent.
I have had two other Scotties since then - William Wallace MacDuff (Duffy) and my present Scottie, Shaw's Rob Roy MacDuff (Robbie). I am a Scottie girl, that is just how it is, but there will never be another Shaw's Roddy MacDuff.
And there will never EVER be another Mother Angelica.
Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon her.
Mother Angelica, pray for us!