All posts by techdecisions

Mary’s love

“Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.” -Mt 25:13

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Mary, Mother of fair love, teach me the secret of steady growth in charity.


We must not think that the Blessed Virgin Mary was excused from all personal activity and progress because she had been established from the beginning in a higher degree of sanctity than that which even the greatest saint could ever hope to attain. Quite the contrary! For her, as for us, life on earth was a “way” where progress in charity was always necessary; where personal correspondence with grace was expected. The excellence of our Lady’s merit consisted in her heroic fidelity to the immense gifts she had received. The privileges of her Immaculate Conception, of the state of sanctity in which she was born, and of her divine maternity were, unquestionably, pure gifts from God; still, far from accepting them passively, as a coffer receives the precious things put into it, she received them freely, as one capable of willingly adhering to the divine favors by means of a complete correspondence with grace. St. Thomas teaches that although Mary could not merit the Incarnation of the Word, by the grace she received she did merit that degree of sanctity which made her the worthy Mother of God (cf. Summa Theologica IIIa, q. 2, a. 11, ad. 3), and she merited this precisely because of her correspondence with grace. Hence, even in Mary, we can consider progress in sanctity, a progress which did not depend solely on the new abundance of graces which God gave her at certain special times in her life—at the moment of the Incarnation for example—but also on her personal activity, wholly informed by grace and charity, by means of which she brought to fruition the treasure entrusted to her by God. Mary, in the truest sense of the word, is the “faithful Virgin,” who knew how to increase a hundredfold the talents (Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:12-28) she received from God. Yes, the greatest amount of grace ever given to a creature was freely bestowed on her by the divine liberality, in view of the sublime mission for which she was destined, but she corresponded to it with the greatest fidelity possible to a creature. Thus, there was plenitude of grace on God’s part, and complete fidelity on Mary’s, so that, as St. Alphonsus says, “Without ever stopping, her beautiful soul soared toward God, continually growing in love of Him.”


“O Mary, you understood the gift of God; you never lost a particle of it. You were so pure, so luminous, that you seemed to be light itself: Speculum justitiae, mirror of justice. Your life was so simple, so lost in God, that there is scarcely anything to say about it. Virgo fidelis: the faithful Virgin, ‘who kept all things in her heart’.” (Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity First Retreat (Heaven in Faith) 10).

O Mary, how marvelous to see your soul continually growing in love, to watch it scale the heights of sanctity without ever halting! Nothing retarded the divine action in you; no obstacle hindered the growth of charity. “Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her Beloved?” (Canticle of Canticles [Song of Songs] 8:5). It is you, O Mother, you who, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sustained by Him, ever rose from grace to grace, from virtue to virtue. O Mother of fair love, full of grace, O faithful Virgin, help me to correspond with fidelity to the gifts of God! Do not permit that my misery render sterile the grace within me. Help me, O Mother, to overcome the innumerable resistances of my weak, cowardly nature; draw me by the sweet charm of your example, so that I may follow you with ardor in the way of perfect charity.

“O my Mother, you who were ever on fire with love for God, give me at least a spark of that love. You appealed to your Son on behalf of the bride and bridegroom whose wine gave out, saying: ‘vinum non habent,’ they have no wine; and will you not pray for me, lacking as I am in love for God, and yet owing Him so much? Say to Him: ‘amorem non habet,’ he has no love. And ask this love for me. No other grace do I ask of you but this one. O Mother, by your love for Jesus, hear me. Show me what great favor you have with Him by obtaining for me a divine light and a divine flame so powerful that it will transform me from a sinner into a saint, and, detaching me from every earthly affection, will inflame me wholly with divine love. O Mary, you have the power to do this. Do it for love of the God who made you so great, so powerful, and so merciful” (St. Alphonsus).



The idea of surrender to God is one of those “weird” moments in Matt’s life. Fear not, there are, tragically, not that many. Were that there were more! But, I recall some years ago being in the passenger seat of a car and either pulling out of a detached garage, I think it was my in-laws. They are the only ones I’ve known with a detached garage, very common in Chicago bungalows. But, I remember either pulling out of the garage forwards, or backing into the garage, God chooses when and where He will, and having what I call a grace, to be granted the insight and the commitment at the same time to surrender to God and to know this was right and desired by Him. And, have been convicted and blessed in that knowledge joyfully so ever since. Weird. I know.

-Donohue, Bill. The Catholic Advantage: Why Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful (p. 171-174). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

“…We can offer ourselves up to God as well, (Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ, Abandonment to Divine Providence) instructs, but to do so requires the combined exercise of faith, hope, and love. Our faith in God, our hope for eternal salvation, our love for God and neighbor, it is these virtues, when exercised in tandem, that constitute the makings of surrender. Absent their presence, true surrender is not possible.

Above all, surrender demands freedom from self-interest. “The free gifts He asks from us are self-denial, obedience, and love,” the French Jesuit tells us. Easier said than done, especially in our society today. American culture celebrates self-expression, self-autonomy, and narcissism, the exact opposite traits that are necessary to surrender to God. Indeed, we treat freedom from self-interest as a bizarre and completely unsatisfactory quality, something suited for masochists. But if we obsess with putting ourselves first, Father de Caussade writes, we have no room for God, and no capacity to love our neighbor.

…“Faith is never unhappy,”…“What is wonderful in the saints is their constancy of faith under every circumstance,”…saintly qualities have a way of capturing the hearts of all persons…

…there are obstacles to surrender, and they are formidable: unwise counsel; unjust judgments of others; interior humiliations; and distrust of self.

…We can learn from the saints how to perfect the practice of surrendering to God,…that their holiness is found in “their surrender to the will of God.”…Surrender also brings joy. What cannot be doubted is that we will be tested. “The state of full surrender is full of consolation for those who have reached it,” he says, “but in order to reach it we must pass through much anguish.”…

…On the Feast of All Saints in 2013, Pope Francis noted that saints are not “supermen” who were born “perfect.” No, he insists, they lived lives much like ours, full of “joy and griefs, struggles and hopes.” So what made them different? “They spent their lives in the service of others,” he says; “they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace.”

Love, surrendering always to Him, or trying,


Mary’s hope

-Madonna of the Magnificat, Sandro Botticelli, 1481, Tempera, 118 cm × 119 cm (46 in × 47 in), Uffizi, Florence, please click on the image for greater detail.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

-Lk 1:46-55

Magnificat anima mea Dominum;
Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus, Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam brachio suo;
Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes.
Sucepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae, Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semeni ejus in saecula.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

“Presence of God – O Mary, Mother of Good Hope, teach me the way of complete confidence in God.


In the Magnificat, the canticle which burst forth from Mary’s heart when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, we find an expression which specially reveals Mary’s interior attitude. “My soul doth magnify the Lord … because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid” (Luke 1:46-48).

When Mary spoke these words, they revealed the “great things” which God had done in her; but, considered in the framework of her life, they expressed the continual movement of her heart, which, in the full awareness of her nothingness, would turn always to God with the most absolute hope and trust in His aid. No one had a more concrete, practical knowledge of her nothingness than Mary; she understood well that her whole being, natural as well as supernatural, would be annihilated if God did not sustain her at every moment. She knew that whatever she was and had, in no way belonged to her, but came from God, and was the pure gift of His liberality. Her great mission and the marvelous privileges which she had received from the Most High did not prevent her from seeing and feeling her “lowliness.” But far from disconcerting or discouraging her in any way—as the realization of our nothingness and wretchedness often does to us—her humility served as a starting point from which she darted to God with stronger hope. The greater the knowledge of her nothingness and weakness became, the higher her soul mounted in hope. That is why, being really poor in spirit, she did not trust in her own resources, ability, or merits, but put all her confidence in God alone. And God, who “sends the rich away empty, and fills the hungry with good things” (cf. Luke 1:53), satisfied her “hunger” and fulfilled her hopes, not only by showering His gifts on her, but by giving Himself to her in all His plenitude.


“O Mother of holy love, our life, our refuge, and our hope, you well know that your Son Jesus, not satisfied with being our perpetual advocate with the eternal Father, has willed that you also, should implore divine mercy for us. I turn to you, then, hope of the unfortunate, hoping by the merits of Jesus and by your intercession, to obtain eternal salvation. My confidence is so great, that, if I had my salvation in my own hands, I should yet place it in yours, for I trust in your merciful protection more than I do in my own works. O my Mother and my hope, do not abandon me! The pity you have for sinners and your power with God are greater than the number and the malice of my faults. If all should forget me, do not you forget me, Mother of the omnipotent God. Say to God that I am your child and that you protect me, and I shall be saved.

“Do not look for any virtue or merit in me, my Mother; look only at the confidence I place in you and my desire to improve. Look at all that Jesus has done and suffered for me and then abandon me, if you have the heart to do so. I offer you all the sufferings of His life: the cold He endured in the stable, His journey to Egypt, the Blood He shed, His poverty, His sweat, His sadness and the death He endured for love of me in your presence, and do you, for the love of Jesus, pledge yourself to help me. O my Mother, do not refuse your pity to one for whom Jesus did not refuse His Blood!

“O Mary, I put my trust in you; in this hope I live and in this hope I long to die, saying over and over: ‘Unica spes mea Jesus, et post Jesum virgo Maria,’ My only hope is Jesus, and after Jesus, Mary” (-Saint Alphonsus).


Mary’s faith

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O my Mother, show me how to have firm faith in God and how to entrust myself entirely to Him.


Using St. Elizabeth’s words, the Church says in praise of Mary: “Blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord” (Luke 1:45). Great things indeed were to be accomplished in Mary; and she had the great merit of believing in them. On the word of God as announced by the Angel, she believed that she would become a mother without losing her virginity; she, who was so humble, believed that she would be truly the Mother of God, and that the fruit of her womb would really be the Son of the Most High. She adhered with entire faith to all that had been revealed to her, accepting, without the least hesitation, a plan that would upset the whole natural order of things: a virgin mother; a creature, Mother of the Creator. She believed when the Angel spoke to her; she continued to believe even when the Angel left her alone and she found herself in the condition of an ordinary woman who knows that she is about to become a mother. “The Virgin,” St. Bernard says, “so little in her own eyes, was magnanimous in her faith in God’s promise! She, who considered herself nothing but a poor handmaid, never had the least doubt concerning her vocation to this incomprehensible mystery, to this marvelous change, to this inscrutable sacrament; she firmly believed that she would become the true Mother of the God-Man.”

The Blessed Virgin teaches us to believe in our vocation to sanctity, to divine intimacy. We did believe in it when God revealed it to us in the brightness of interior light, and the words of His minister confirmed it; but we should also believe in it when we find ourselves alone, in darkness, amid difficulties that tend to disturb and discourage us. God is faithful, and He does not do things by halves: He will finish His work in us, provided we have complete confidence in Him.


“O Mary, overshadow me and I shall be calm and confident. Accompany me on my way and lead me by secret paths. I shall not be spared suffering, but you will arouse in me a real hunger for it, as for an indispensable food. Mary! Your name is sweet as honey and balm to my lips. Hail, Mary! who can resist you? Who can be lost if he says, ‘Hail, Mary?’ You are the Mother of the little ones, the health of the sick, the star in storms…. Oh! Mary! If I am helpless, without courage, without consolation, I run to you and cry: Ave Maria! You are the comfort of slaves, the courage of little ones, the strength of the weak, Ave Maria! When I say your name, my whole heart is inflamed, Ave Maria! Joy of angels, food of souls, Ave Maria!” (cf. Bl. Edward Poppe).

Yes, O Mary, lead me by the short route of complete confidence in God. You who are blessed because you have believed, increase my faith; give me a strong, unshakable, invincible faith. We are indebted to your faith for the accomplishment of God’s promises; therefore, help me to share your faith, making me believe in Him, in His words, promises, and invitations, without any shadow of doubt, hesitation, or uncertainty. Doubt delays me, hesitation paralyzes me, uncertainty clips my wings…. O Mary, help me to have complete faith, so that I can give myself wholly to God, adhere to all His plans, accept with my eyes closed every disposition of divine Providence. Make me believe so that I shall be able to face storms with courage, abandon myself entirely to God’s action, and advance with confidence along the road to sanctity. If you are with me, O Mary, I shall have no fear. The strength of your faith will be the support and refuge of mine, so weak and languid.”


Roman Catholic lay – scientist/engineers

-“Vitruvian Man“, Leonardo da Vinci, 1490, pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper, 34.6 cm × 25.5 cm (13.6 in × 10.0 in), Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

The ancient world was fascinated by symmetry (think classical architecture/statuary) in nature, not only for its beauty, but also for its potential revelations regarding the transcendent (God): the movements of the planets, originally attempted to be understood as circles in Ptolemaic Egypt, but eventually and correctly understood as elipses, but still. This was true especially human symmetry and dimensions: foot (length), pound (weight), etc. Considering how many contemporaries we are acquainted with who consider themselves the center of the universe, this ancient view seems quite logical/rational/reasonable. In fact, before metric, all measurements were based on human dimension. And, this symmetry should be unquestionably in architecture, to the ancient mind. What other conclusion was possible? The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius (from whence cometh the name) in Book III of his treatise De architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the classical orders of architecture. (As Plato, Socrates, Aristotle sought the fundamental forms – theory of forms, to understand the physical and the transcendent) Somewhat like any academic question posed which no one can answer for hundreds of years, even though academic fame and financial prizes incentivize, the geometric problem of how does one fit the human dimension in the geometric ideals of the square and the circle? Every attempt had ASSUMED the centers of the circle and the square and the human to be concentric. da Vinci finally, brilliantly, simply realized the problem was solvable if the square was NOT concentric, but if its center were shifted down.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718–1799) – mathematician who wrote on differential and integral calculus
Georgius Agricola (1494–1555) – father of mineralogy[5]
Alois Alzheimer (1864–1915) – credited with identifying the first published case of presenile dementia, which is now known as Alzheimer’s disease[6]
André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836) – one of the main discoverers of electromagnetism
Leopold Auenbrugger (1722–1809) – first to use percussion as a diagnostic technique in medicine
Adrien Auzout (1622–1691) – astronomer who contributed to the development of the telescopic micrometer
Amedeo Avogadro (1776–1856) – Italian scientist noted for contributions to molecular theory and Avogadro’s Law
Francisco J. Ayala (1934–present) – Spanish-American biologist and philosopher at the University of California, Irvine
Jacques Babinet (1794–1872) – French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer who is best known for his contributions to optics
Stephen M. Barr (1953–present) – professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware and a member of its Bartol Research Institute
Joachim Barrande (1799–1883) – French geologist and paleontologist who studied fossils from the Lower Palaeozoic rocks of Bohemia
Laura Bassi (1711–1778) – physicist at the University of Bologna and Chair in experimental physics at the Bologna Institute of Sciences, the first woman to be offered a professorship at a European university
Antoine César Becquerel (1788–1878) – pioneer in the study of electric and luminescent phenomena
Henri Becquerel (1852–1908) – awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his co-discovery of radioactivity
Carlo Beenakker (1960 – present) – professor at Leiden University and leader of the university’s mesoscopic physics group, established in 1992.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823) – prolific Italian explorer and pioneer archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities
Pierre-Joseph van Beneden (1809–1894) – Belgian zoologist and paleontologist who established one of the world’s first marine laboratories and aquariums
John Desmond Bernal (1901–1971) – British pioneer in X-ray crystallography in molecular biology
Claude Bernard (1813–1878) – physiologist who helped to apply scientific methodology to medicine
Jacques Philippe Marie Binet (1786–1856) – mathematician known for Binet’s formula and his contributions to number theory
Jean-Baptiste Biot (1774–1862) – physicist who established the reality of meteorites and studied polarization of light
Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (1777–1850) – zoologist and anatomist who coined the term paleontology and described several new species of reptiles
Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608–1679) – often referred to as the father of modern biomechanics
Raoul Bott (1923–2005) – mathematician known for numerous basic contributions to geometry in its broad sense
Marcella Boveri (1863–1950) – Biologist and first woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Theodor Boveri (1862–1915) – The first to hypothesize the celluar processes that cause cancer
Louis Braille (1809–1852) – inventor of the Braille reading and writing system
Edouard Branly (1844–1940) – inventor and physicist known for his involvement in wireless telegraphy and his invention of the Branly coherer
James Britten (1846–1924) – botanist, member of the Catholic Truth Society and Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great
Hermann Brück (1905–2000) – Astronomer Royal for Scotland from 1957–1975; honored by Pope John Paul II
Albert Brudzewski (c. 1445–c.1497) – first to state that the Moon moves in an ellipse
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) – one of the pioneers of natural history, especially through his monumental Histoire Naturelle
Nicola Cabibbo (1935–2010): Italian physicist, discoverer of the universality of weak interactions (Cabibbo angle), President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences from 1993 until his death
Alexis Carrel (1873–1944) – awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for pioneering vascular suturing techniques
John Casey (mathematician) (1820–1891) – Irish geometer known for Casey’s theorem
Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625–1712) – first to observe four of Saturn’s moons and the co-discoverer of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter
Augustin-Louis Cauchy (1789–1857) – mathematician who was an early pioneer in analysis
Andrea Cesalpino (c.1525–1603) – botanist who also theorized on the circulation of blood
Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) – published the first translation of the Rosetta Stone
Michel Chasles (1793–1880) – mathematician who elaborated on the theory of modern projective geometry and was awarded the Copley Medal
Guy de Chauliac (c.1300–1368) – the most eminent surgeon of the Middle Ages
Albert Claude (1899–1983) – awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions to cytology
Mateo Realdo Colombo (1516–1559) – discovered the pulmonary circuit, which paved the way for Harvey’s discovery of circulation
Arthur W. Conway (1876–1950) – remembered for his application of biquaternion algebra to the special theory of relativity
E. J. Conway (1894–1968) – Irish biochemist known for works pertaining to electrolyte physiology and analytical chemistry
Carl Ferdinand Cori (1896–1984) – shared the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his wife for their discovery of the Cori cycle
Gerty Cori (1896–1957) – biochemist who was the first American woman win a Nobel Prize in science (1947)
Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis (1792–1843) – formulated laws regarding rotating systems, which later became known as the Corialis effect
Domenico Cotugno (1736–1822) – Italian anatomist who discovered the nasopalatine nerve, demonstrated the existence of the labyrinthine fluid, and formulated a theory of resonance and hearing, among other important contributions
Maurice Couette (1858–1943) – best known for his contributions to rheology and the theory of fluid flow; appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Pius XI in 1925
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (1736–1806) – physicist known for developing Coulomb’s law
Clyde Cowan (1919–1974) – Co-discoverer of the neutrino
Jean Cruveilhier (1791–1874) – Made important contributions to the study of the nervous system and was the first to describe the lesions associated with multiple sclerosis; originally planned to enter the priesthood
Endre Czeizel (1935-2015) – Discovered that folic acid prevents or reduces the formation of more serious developmental disorders, such as neural tube defects like spina bifida
Gabriel Auguste Daubrée (1814–1896) – pioneer in the application of experimental methods to the study of diverse geologic phenomena
René Descartes (1596–1650) – father of modern philosophy and analytic geometry
César-Mansuète Despretz (1791–1863) – chemist and physicist who investigated latent heat, the elasticity of vapors, the compressibility of liquids, and the density of gases[25]
Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet (1805–1859) – mathematician who contributed to number theory and was one of the first to give the modern formal definition of a function
Ignacy Domeyko (1802–1889) – Polish scientist who made major contributions to the study of Chile’s geography, geology, and mineralogy
Christian Doppler (1803–1853) – Austrian physicist and mathematician who enunciated the Doppler effect
Pierre Duhem (1861–1916) – historian of science who made important contributions to hydrodynamics, elasticity, and thermodynamics
Félix Dujardin (1801–1860) – biologist remembered for his research on protozoans and other invertebrates; became a devout Catholic later in life and was known to read The Imitation of Christ
Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1800–1884) – chemist who established new values for the atomic mass of thirty elements
André Dumont (1809–1857) – Belgian geologist who prepared the first geological map of Belgium and named many of the subdivisions of the Cretaceous and Tertiary
Charles Dupin (1784–1873) – mathematician who discovered the Dupin cyclide and the Dupin indicatrix
John Eccles (1903–1997) – Awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the synapse
Stephan Endlicher (1804–1849) – botanist who formulated a major system of plant classification
Gerhard Ertl (1936–present) – German physicist who won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces[30]
Bartolomeo Eustachi (c.1500–1574) – one of the founders of human anatomy
Hieronymus Fabricius (1537–1619) – father of embryology
Gabriele Falloppio (1523–1562) – pioneering Italian anatomist who studied the human ear and reproductive organs
Mary Celine Fasenmyer (1906–1996) – Religious sister and mathematician, founder of Sister Celine’s polynomials
Hervé Faye (1814–1902) – astronomer whose discovery of the periodic comet 4P/Faye won him the 1844 Lalande Prize and membership in the French Academy of Sciences
Pierre de Fermat (1601–1665) – number theorist who contributed to the early development of calculus
Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) – awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in induced radioactivity
Jean Fernel (1497–1558) – physician who introduced the term physiology
Fibonacci (c.1170–c.1250) – popularized Hindu-Arabic numerals in Europe and discovered the Fibonacci sequence
Hippolyte Fizeau (1819–1896) – first person to determine experimentally the velocity of light
Léon Foucault (1819–1868) – invented the Foucault pendulum to measure the effect of the earth’s rotation
Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826) – discovered Fraunhofer lines in the sun’s spectrum
Augustin-Jean Fresnel (1788–1827) – made significant contributions to the theory of wave optics
Johann Nepomuk von Fuchs (1774–1856) – confirmed the stoichiometric laws and observed isomorphism and the cation exchange of zeolites
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) – father of modern science
Luigi Galvani (1737–1798) – formulated the theory of animal electricity
William Gascoigne (1610–1644) – developed the first micrometer
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778–1850) – chemist known for two laws related to gases
Riccardo Giacconi (1931–present) – Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who laid the foundations of X-ray astronomy
Paula González (1932–present) – Religious sister and professor of biology
Peter Grünberg (1939–present) – German physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics laureate
Johannes Gutenberg (c.1398–1468) – inventor of the printing press
Samuel Stehman Haldeman (1812–1880) – American naturalist and convert to Catholicism who researched fresh-water mollusks, the human voice, Amerindian dialects, and the organs of sound of insects
Jean Baptiste Julien d’Omalius d’Halloy (1783–1875) – one of the pioneers of modern geology
Eduard Heis (1806–1877) – astronomer who contributed the first true delineation of the Milky Way
Jan Baptist van Helmont (1579–1644) – founder of pneumatic chemistry
George de Hevesy (1885–1966) – Hungarian radiochemist and Nobel laureate
Charles Hermite (1822–1901) – mathematician who did research on number theory, quadratic forms, elliptic functions, and algebra
John Philip Holland (1840–1914) – developed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the US Navy
Antoine Laurent de Jussieu (1748–1836) – first to propose a natural classification of flowering plants
Mary Kenneth Keller (c.1914–1985) – Sister of Charity and first American woman to earn a PhD in computer science, helped develop BASIC
Brian Kobilka (1955–present) – American Nobel Prize winning professor who teaches at Stanford University School of Medicine
René Laennec (1781–1826) – physician who invented the stethoscope
Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736–1813) – mathematician and astronomer known for Lagrangian points and Lagrangian mechanics
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) – French naturalist, biologist and academic whose theories on evolution preceded those of Darwin
Johann von Lamont (1805–1879) – astronomer and physicist who studied the magnetism of the Earth and was the first to calculate the mass of Uranus
Karl Landsteiner (1868–1943) – Nobel Prize winner who identified and classified the human blood types
Pierre André Latreille (1762–1833) – pioneer in entomology
Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794) – father of modern chemistry
Jérôme Lejeune (1926–1994) – pediatrician and geneticist, best known for his discovery of the link of diseases to chromosome abnormalities
Jonathan Lunine (1959–present) – planetary scientist at the forefront of research into planet formation, evolution, and habitability; serves as vice-president of the Society of Catholic Scientists
Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694) – father of comparative physiology
Étienne-Louis Malus (1775–1812) – discovered the polarization of light
Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714–1774) – anatomist and anatomical wax artist who lectured at the University of Bologna
Giovanni Manzolini (1700–1755) – anatomical wax artist and Professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna
Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937) – father of wireless technology and radio transmission
Pierre Louis Maupertuis (1698–1759) – known for the Maupertuis principle and for being the first president of the Berlin Academy of Science
Michele Mercati (1541–1593) – one of the first to recognize prehistoric stone tools as man-made
Charles W. Misner (1932–present) – American cosmologist dedicated to the study of general relativity
Kenneth R. Miller (1948–present) – American cell biologist and molecular biologist who teaches at Brown University
Mario J. Molina (1943–present) – Mexican chemist, one of the precursors to the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole (1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Peter Joseph Moloney (1891–1989) – Canadian immunologist and pioneering vaccine researcher, who worked out the first large-scale purification of insulin in 1922; International Gairdner Award, 1967)[43]
Gaspard Monge (1746–1818) – father of descriptive geometry
John J. Montgomery (1858–1911) – American physicist and inventor of gliders and aerodynamics
Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682–1771) – father of modern anatomical pathology
Johannes Peter Müller (1801–1858) – founder of modern physiology
Joseph Murray (1919–2012) – Nobel Prize in Medicine laureate
John von Neumann (1903–1957) – Hungarian-born American mathematician and polymath who converted to Catholicism
Martin Nowak (1965–present) – evolutionary theorist and Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University; serves on the board of the Society of Catholic Scientists
Karin Öberg (1982–present) – her Öberg Astrochemistry Group discovered the first complex organic molecule in a protoplanetary disk; serves on the board of the Society of Catholic Scientists
Abraham Ortelius (1527–1598) – created the first modern atlas and theorized on continental drift
Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) – French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) – father of bacteriology
Pierre Joseph Pelletier (1788–1842) – co-discovered strychnine, caffeine, quinine, cinchonine, among many other discoveries in chemistry
Georg von Peuerbach (1423–1461) – called the father of mathematical and observational astronomy in the West
Michael Polanyi (1891–1976) – Hungarian polymath, made contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy
Vladimir Prelog (1906–1998) – Croatian-Swiss organic chemist, winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize for chemistry
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) – awarded the Nobel Prize for his contributions to neuroscience
René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683–1757) – scientific polymath known especially for his study of insects
Francesco Redi (1626–1697) – his experiments with maggots were a major step in overturning the idea of spontaneous generation
Henri Victor Regnault (1810–1878) – chemist with two laws governing the specific heat of gases named after him
Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro (1853–1925) – one of the founders of tensor calculus
Gilles de Roberval (1602–1675) – mathematician who studied the geometry of infinitesimals and was one of the founders of kinematic geometry
Frederick Rossini (1899–1990) – Priestley Medal and Laetare Medal-winning chemist
Paul Sabatier (chemist) (1854–1941) – awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work improving the hydrogenation of organic species in the presence of metals
Adhémar Jean Claude Barré de Saint-Venant (1797–1886) – Remembered for Saint-Venant’s principle, Saint-Venant’s theorem, and Saint-Venant’s compatibility condition; given the title Count by Pope Pius IX in 1869
Theodor Schwann (1810–1882) – founder of the theory of the cellular structure of animal organisms
Ignaz Semmelweis (1818–1865) – early pioneer of antiseptic procedures, discoverer of the cause of puerperal fever
Louis Jacques Thénard (1777–1857) – discovered hydrogen peroxide and contributed to the discovery of boron
Evangelista Torricelli (1608–1647) – inventor of the barometer
Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli (1397–1482) – Italian mathematician, astronomer and cosmographer
Richard Towneley (1629–1707) – mathematician and astronomer whose work contributed to the formulation of Boyle’s Law
Louis René Tulasne (1815–1885) – biologist with several genera and species of fungi named after him
Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (1763–1829) – discovered the chemical element beryllium
Urbain Le Verrier (1811–1877) – mathematician who predicted the discovery of Neptune
Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) – father of modern human anatomy
François Viète (1540–1603) – father of modern algebra
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) – Renaissance anatomist, scientist, mathematician, and painter
Vincenzo Viviani (1622–1703) – mathematician known for Viviani’s theorem, Viviani’s curve and his work in determining the speed of sound
Alessandro Volta (1745–1827) – physicist known for the invention of the battery
Wilhelm Heinrich Waagen (1841–1900) – geologist and paleontologist who provided the first example of evolution described from the geologic record, after studying Jurassic ammonites
Karl Weierstrass (1815–1897) – often called the father of modern analysis
E. T. Whittaker (1873–1956) – English mathematician who made contributions to applied mathematics and mathematical physics
Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) – one of the founders of scientific archaeology
Bertram Windle (1858–1929) – anthropologist, physician, and former president of University College Cork
Jacob B. Winslow (1669–1760) – convert to Catholicism who was regarded as the greatest European anatomist of his day
Antonino Zichichi (1929–present) – Italian nuclear physicist, former President of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare

Mary’s humility

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Mary, humblest of all creatures, make me humble of heart.


St. Bernard says: “It is not hard to be humble in a hidden life, but to remain so in the midst of honors is a truly rare and beautiful virtue.” The Blessed Virgin was certainly the woman whom God honored most highly, whom He raised above all other creatures; yet no creature was so humble and lowly as she. A holy rivalry seemed to exist between Mary and God; the higher God elevated her, the lowlier she became in her humility. The Angel called her “full of grace,” and Mary “was troubled” (Luke 1:28, 29). According to St. Alphonsus’ explanation, “Mary was troubled because she was filled with humility, disliked praise, and desired that God only be praised.” The Angel revealed to her the sublime mission which was to be entrusted to her by the Most High, and Mary declared herself “the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). Her thoughts did not linger over the immense honor that would be hers as the woman chosen from all women to be the Mother of the Son of God; but, she contemplated in wonder the great mystery of a God who willed to become incarnate in the womb of a poor creature. If God wished to descend so far as to give Himself to her as a Son, to what depths should not His little handmaid abase herself? The more she understood the grandeur of the mystery, the immensity of the divine gift, the more she humbled herself, submerging herself in her nothingness. Her attitude was the same when Elizabeth greeted her, “Blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:42). Those words did not astonish her, for she was already the Mother of God; yet she remained steadfast in her profound humility. She attributed everything to God whose mercies she sang, acknowledging the condescension with which He had “regarded the humility of His handmaid” (Luke 1:48). That God had performed great works in her she knew and acknowledged, but instead of boasting about them, she directed everything to His glory. With reason St. Bernardine exclaims: “As no other creature, after the Son of God, has been raised in dignity and grace equal to Mary, so neither has anyone descended so deep into the abyss of humility.” Behold the effect that graces and divine favors should produce in us: an increase of humility, a greater awareness of our nothingness.


“O Virgin! glorious stem, to what sublime height do you raise your corolla? Straight to Him who is seated on the throne, to the God of Majesty. I do not wonder since you are so deeply rooted in humility. Hail, Mary, full of grace! You are truly full of grace, for you are pleasing to God, to the angels, and to men: to men, by your maternity; to the angels, by your virginity; to God, by your humility. It is by your humility that you attract the glance of God, of Him who regards the humble, but looks at the proud from afar. As Satan’s eyes are fixed on the proud, so God’s eyes are on the lowly” (St. Bernard).

O Mother most humble, make me humble so that God will deign to turn His eyes toward me. There is nothing in my soul to attract Him, nothing sublime, nothing worthy of His complacency, nothing truly good or virtuous; whatever good there is, is so mixed with wretchedness, so weak and deficient that it is not even worthy to be called good. What, then, can attract Your grace to my poor soul, O Lord? “Where will you look, but on him who is poor and humble, and contrite of heart?” (cf. Isaiah 66,2). O Lord, grant that I may be humble; make me humble, through the merits of Your most humble Mother.

O Mary, had you not been humble, the Holy Spirit would not have come upon you, and you would not have become the Mother of God …” (cf. St. Bernard). Similarly, if I am not humble, God will not give me His grace, the Holy Spirit will not come to me, and my life will be sterile, unfruitful. Grant, then, O Holy Virgin, that your humility, which is so pleasing to God, may obtain pardon for my pride, and a truly humble heart.”


Mary 3

-Madonna under the fir tree, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1510

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Mary, since you are really my Mother, make me your true and worthy child.


When she consented to become the Mother of the Son of God, Mary bound herself by very close bonds not only to the person of Jesus, but also to His work. She knew that the Savior was coming into the world to redeem the human race; hence, when she agreed to become His Mother, she also agreed to become the closest collaborator of His mission. In fact, by giving us Jesus, the source of all grace, Mary collaborated most effectively and even directly in the diffusion of grace in our souls. “If Jesus is the Father of our souls,” St. Alphonsus says, “Mary is their Mother, for, in giving us Jesus, she gave us true life; and later, by offering on Calvary the life of her Son for our salvation, she brought us forth to the life of divine grace.”

As one woman, Eve, had cooperated in the losing of grace, so by a harmonious disposition of divine Providence, another woman, Mary, would cooperate in the restoration of grace. It is true that all grace comes from Jesus, who is the only source of grace and the one and only Savior; but, inasmuch as Mary gave Him to the world, and was intimately associated with His whole life and work, we can truly say that grace also comes from Mary. If Jesus is its source, Mary, according to St. Bernard, is its channel, the aqueduct which carries it to us. Since Jesus willed to come to us through Mary, so all grace and all supernatural life come to us through her. “This is the will of Him Who decreed that we should have everything through Mary” (St. Bernard). All that Jesus merited for us by strictest right, condignly, Mary has merited for us fittingly, congruously. The Blessed Virgin is then truly our Mother. When she brought forth Jesus, she brought us forth at the same time to the life of grace; we can address her in all truth: “Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope!”


“Oh blessed confidence, O sure refuge, you, the Mother of God, are my Mother! How can I fail to hope, since my salvation and my sanctity are in the hands of Jesus, my Brother, and Mary, my Mother?” (Cf. St. Anselm).

“O Mary, Mary, bearer of the fire of love, and dispenser of mercy! Mary, co-redemptrix of the human race, when you clothed the Word with your flesh, the world was redeemed. Christ paid its ransom with His Passion, and you paid it with the sorrows of your body and soul.” (St. Catherine of Siena).

“O Mary, you are that garden enclosed, which contains the Giver of Life; God Himself is within you, with heaven and all creatures. The whole world is saved by the Blood received from you. Without you, O Mary, there would be no paradise for me; without you, there would be no God for me ….

“O Mary, how countless are the gifts and graces which you wish to bestow on creatures! And who would not want to receive them? It is perseverance in desiring them which is lacking; you, most loving Mother, do not offer gifts to your children when you see that they would not appreciate them and would throw them away; for you know that the guilt thus incurred would have to be punished later. O Mary, you want to grant me your gifts, but I deprive myself of them, because I want to mingle my gifts with yours. I should like to have your graces, but I want my own will at the same time, and so I cannot have them. I should like to have your good will, but also the love and kindness of creatures. I cannot have both. I want your love and my self-love, but this combination is impossible. I want to live under your mantle, but also under the mantle of my own comfort. Yet, it is not fitting to be delicate members of a thorn-crowned head; neither is it fitting for your children to seek their comfort under your mantle, O sweet Mother, when you had so little regard for your own comfort.

“O Mary, what can I offer and give you that will please you? If I offer you my will, I fear that you will not accept it, because it is not conformed to God’s will. If I offer you my intellect, it is not enlightened; if I give you my affection, it is not pure. I offer you the Heart of your only Son! and a greater gift I cannot offer.” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).


Mary 2

Dolci600_2Madonna2p1070185-Madonna in Glory, Carlo Dolci, circa 1670

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Under your protection I take refuge, O Mary; be the guide and model of my interior life.


The heart of every Christian turns spontaneously toward his heavenly Mother, with a desire to live in closer intimacy with her and to strengthen the sweet ties which bind him to her. It is a great comfort on our spiritual way, which is often fatiguing and bristling with difficulties, to meet the gentle presence of a mother. One is so at ease near one’s mother. With her, everything becomes easier; the weary, discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage.

“If the winds of temptation arise,” sings St. Bernard“if you run into the reefs of trials, look to the star, call upon Mary. In danger, sorrow, or perplexity, think of Mary, call upon Mary.” There are times when the hard road of the “nothing” frightens us, miserable as we are; and then, more than ever, we need her help, the help of our Mother. The Blessed Virgin Mary has, before us, trodden the straight and narrow path which leads to sanctity; before us she has carried the cross, before us she has known the ascents of the spirit through suffering. Sometimes, perhaps, we do not dare to look at Jesus the God-Man, Who because of His divinity seems too far above us; but near Him is Mary, His Mother and our Mother, a privileged creature surely, yet a creature like ourselves, and therefore a model more accessible for our weakness.

Mary comes to meet us, to take us by the hand, to initiate us into the secret of her interior life, which must become the model and norm of our own.


“O my soul, do you fear to approach God? He has given you Jesus as Mediator. Is there anything that such a Son could not obtain from His Father? The Father Who loves Him will answer Him, because of the love He bears Him. But do you yet hesitate to approach Him? He made Himself your brother, your companion, and in everything, sin excepted, He willed to undergo all the humiliations of human nature, just to compassionate your miseries. Mary has given you this brother. But His divine Majesty still awes you, perhaps; for, although He is man, He does not cease to be God. Do you want an advocate with Him? Have recourse to Mary. Mary is a pure creature, pure not only because she is free from sin, but also because of her unique human nature. I am sure, O Mary, that your prayers will be heard because of the respect you deserve; your Son will certainly hear you because you are His Mother, and the Father will hear His Son. This is why my confidence is unshakable; this is the reason for all my hope! O Blessed Virgin, the Angel declared that ‘you have found grace before God.’ You will always find grace, and I need only grace; I ask for nothing else.” (cf. St. Bernard).

“Draw me after you, O Virgin Mary, that I may run in the odor of your ointments. Draw me, for I am held back by the weight of my sins and the malice of your enemies. Since no one comes to your Son unless he is drawn by the Father, I dare to say that no one, so to speak, comes to Him if you do not draw him by your prayers. You teach true wisdom, you beg grace for sinners, you are their advocate, you promise glory to those who honor you, because you are the treasury of grace. You have found grace with God, O most sweet Virgin, you who have been preserved from original sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, and have conceived the Son of God. You have been given all these graces, O most humble Mary, not only for yourself, but also for us, so that you may be able to help us in all our necessities.” (cf. Ven. Raymond Jourdain).


Triumph of Grace 2

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – May I be all Yours, Lord, and You all mine.


“God does not give Himself wholly to us until He sees that we are giving ourselves wholly to Him” (Teresa of JesusWay of Perfection, 28). God respects man’s liberty so much that, although desiring to have him share in His divine Life, He actually communicates Himself only in the measure of our consent; when this consent is total, He does not hesitate to give Himself wholly. God responds to the perfect yes of the soul with the “true and entire yes of His grace” (cf. John of the CrossLiving Flame of Love 3,24). To the perfect gift of the will on the part of the soul corresponds the full communication of grace on the part of God; grace is granted in all its perfection, accompanied by the wealth of the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Grace and love necessarily go together, and as perfect adherence to the will of God is the sign of perfect love, it follows that God gives the superabundance of grace to the soul which is completely conformed to His divine will.

St. John of the Cross explains this lofty state yet more fully: “When the will of God and the will of the soul are as one in a free consent of their own, then the soul has attained to the possession of God through grace of will, insofar as can be, by means of will and grace; and this signifies that God has corresponded to the yes of the soul with the true and entire yes of His grace” (Living Flame of Love 3, 24). The soul has given itself entirely to God, and now it receives its reward: God gives Himself to it. The soul, says the Saint, possesses God “through grace of will,” that is, by reason of the perfect communication of grace, which is God’s response to the total gift of the will. By this perfect communication, God gives Himself to the soul, allowing it to participate more and more in His supernatural Being and divine Life, and dwelling in it in a manner ever more intimate and profound.

This is the triumph of grace in the soul. That grace, which was communicated to it in germ at Baptism, and which has increased little by little in the course of the various stages of the spiritual life, reaches maturity when the soul has surrendered itself completely into the hands of God, giving Him its whole will. Not in vain has the soul died to itself; it has died in order to live in God and for God, to live by His life, by His love, by His will. “You are dead,” says St. Paul, “and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3.).


“O Lord of heaven and earth! Is it possible, while we are still in this mortal life, for us to enjoy You with such special friendship?… Oh! the joys which You bestow on souls who give themselves entirely to You! What endearments, what sweet words are these, one word of which would suffice to unite us to You. May You be blessed, O Lord, for so far as You are concerned we shall lose nothing. By how many paths, in how many manners, through how many means do You reveal Your love to us! By trials, by bitter death, by tortures, by affronts suffered daily, by Your forgiveness. And not by these alone, but by words that pierce the soul that loves You.

“So, my Lord, I ask You for nothing else in this life but that You should ‘kiss me with the kiss of Your mouth’; and let this be in such a way, Lord of my life, that, even if I should desire to withdraw from this friendship and union, my will may be so completely subject to Yours that I shall be unable to leave You. May nothing ever hinder me, O my God and my glory, from being able to say: ‘Better and more delectable than any other good is Your friendship and Your love.’

“For the love of the Lord, my soul, wake out of this sleep and remember that God does not keep you waiting until the next life before rewarding you for your love of Him. Your recompense begins in this life.

“O my Lord, my Mercy and my Good! What more do I want in this life than to be so near You that there is no division between You and me? And since Your love allows it, I will repeat without ceasing: ‘My Beloved to me and I to my Beloved’” (cf. Teresa of Jesus Conceptions of the Love of God, 3-4).


Mother Angelica

“…Born Rita Rizzo, and reared in Canton, Ohio, Mother Angelica experienced poverty, a broken home, maltreatment, multiple physical ailments, jealousy, backstabbing, betrayal—she was even shot at—but nothing could stop her determination. It does not exaggerate to say that the object of her determination never had anything to do with herself—it always had to do with God.

In her lifetime, Mother established the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration and gave birth to the Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word and the Sisters of the Eternal Word. She built the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as the largest shortwave network in the world, and the world’s first Catholic satellite network. Not bad for a high school graduate who had everything going against her.

Her father was abusive, both physically and verbally, and eventually abandoned her. It took such a toll on her that she wondered why God would ever subject a little girl to such a miserable family. It also meant that she missed out on what other kids were used to, so much so that one of her cousins would later say of her, “She was an adult all her life. She never had a childhood.” 82

The nuns she met in school were anything but kind. Their opposition to divorce unfortunately led them to oppose the children of divorce, and this was something the young Rita couldn’t bear (the priests her mother encountered were just as condemning). Some family members were just as cruel, including an uncle who verbally abused her mother so badly that Rita literally threw a knife at him.

Yet there were miracles. There was a time when, at age eleven, she was crossing the street only to see two headlights staring her right in the face. She thought she was dead. Incredibly, she was able to jump high enough that she avoided being hit. The driver called it “a miracle”; Rita and her mother dubbed it a graceful “lifting.”

Her stomach ailments were so bad that she was forced to wear a corset. The doctors tried to help, but to little avail. Then she met a stigmatic, Rhoda Wise, and that’s when things began to change. One day, when she was twenty, a voice told her to get up and walk without the corset, and she did just that. Immediately, her suffering was relieved. Her doctor, of course, insisted it had to do with his treatments, but Rita knew better.

Her mother, Mae, wasn’t too happy when she learned that Rita had decided to enter a Cleveland monastery. After all, she had first been abandoned by her husband, John, and now her daughter was leaving her as well. But Rita had a mind of her own. Even after she entered the monastery in 1944, her mother tried to coax her to leave. She sent an emissary, Uncle Nick Gianfrancesco, to visit her; the pretext was the passing of her grandmother. He was there to convey Mae’s message—please come home right away. But he couldn’t do it. “Are you happy here?” “Oh yeah, Uncle Nick, I am.” 83

Eight years later, in the spring of 1952, Sister Angelica was summoned to the parlor by Mother Clare. She expected to see her mother, or one of her uncles. It was her father. Seated on the other side of the double grille, he was filled with guilt. He asked what Uncle Nick had asked: “Are you happy here?” “Yes, I am,” she replied. She admitted that she felt sorry for him. “For some strange reason,” she said, “I don’t remember having any resentment toward him. I didn’t hate him or love him.”

Her father came back a second time to offer an apology. “I want you to know I’m sorry, and I want your mother to know I’m sorry.” Sister Angelica was stunned. “That was like a million dollars to me, because I didn’t know him well enough to think he could be sorry … and I really wanted to see him again.” But that was not to happen. The cloister rules allowed parents to visit only once every two months, putting her in a tough spot. Her mother gave her an ultimatum: choose me or your father. Mother Clare counseled Sister Angelica to choose her mother, so she wrote her father a letter explaining the situation. He was devastated. Six months later, John Rizzo died of a heart attack. 84

After nine years in the cloister, Sister Angelica took her solemn vows. By that time she enjoyed a reputation for teaching the novices the importance of surrender. She taught them about the example of St. John of the Cross and his “dark night of the soul”—a time when his relationship with God seemed to slip. The lesson to be drawn, she told the sisters, was “complete abandonment to God and [to find] happiness in doing as He wills whether He leads … by suffering or by consolation.” 85

Sister Angelica was not in good health. Her legs and her back were so twisted she could hardly walk (she wore a body cast), leading her to beg God to allow her to walk again in exchange for a promise: she would build a monastery in the South. What she wanted was a “Negro apostolate,” a cloistered community in service to poor blacks. After undergoing spinal surgery, and after being rebuffed initially by her bishop, she got her way; approval was given to build a monastery in Birmingham, Alabama. Then came the hard part—coming up with the money to pay for it.

In 1959, the year before she became Mother Angelica, she spotted an ad in a magazine for fishing lure parts. She decided that the nuns would go into the fishing-lure business; this was the beginning of St. Peter’s Fishing Lures. In 1961, Sports Illustrated honored her with a plaque for her “special contribution to a sport.” Remarkably, the half-crippled nun with no business experience was able to garner national attention for her entrepreneurial acumen. Much more was to come.

Building a monastery in the South in the early 1960s, especially one that would service African Americans, was not exactly a popular exercise. It didn’t take long before local opposition mounted, even to the point of violence. Mother Angelica was shot at one night by one of the protesters (he barely missed). But she persevered and even launched another venture: the Li’l Ole Peanut Company proved to be so successful that by the end of 1968, she paid off all her monastery debt. Over the next decade, she would write books and give talks, managing to walk with an artificial hip.

In 1978, her life was forever altered when she visited a TV studio in Chicago. Instantly, she got the bug: she had to have one of her own. Then came the first of many disappointments dealing with the bishops. When she contacted them about a Catholic TV show, none replied. Undeterred, she secured funding from New York philanthropist Peter Grace. In 1981, she founded EWTN. The rest is history: her shows are translated into many languages, including Spanish, German, French, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Korean. In 2011, EWTN took over the National Catholic Register, an influential weekly newspaper.

Everyone who ever worked with Mother Angelica can tell stories featuring her great sense of humor. Father John Trigilio, author and EWTN personality, recalls that when he first met her, she was so humorous that “my sides were hurting.” 86 Sister Mary Agnes, who spent much time with her, said “she had a great sense of humor. She was somebody everybody wanted to be with. Everybody wanted to be with Mother because she was a lot of fun. But, at the same time, she was holy.” 87 Holiness and happiness—the two go together.

I asked Raymond Arroyo, who hosts the EWTN’s flagship show, The World Over, and who has written more authoritatively on Mother Angelica than anyone else, to reflect on her happiness.

“One of the things that most impressed me about Mother Angelica was her constant joy,” Arroyo says. “It didn’t matter whether she was in the middle of some public fracas or battling a life threatening illness—her joy never flagged.” As many others observed, “there was always laughter and lots of humor (it occasionally turned black).” When she had a stroke in 2001, and was suffering, he asked her how she was able to maintain her joy and avoid self-pity and anger, two emotions we might expect of someone in her condition. What she said was so poignant, it induced Arroyo to write it down: “I do what I do because it is the will of God and that alone gives me joy—nothing else.” She distinguished between happiness and joy. “Other things can give me happiness but doing God’s will is my joy.” As Arroyo notes, “She believed that her pain, united with Christ’s, was the foundation of all she accomplished.”” 88


82. See my book review of Raymond Arroyo’s book, Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles in the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, October 2005, available online.
83. See p. 46 in Arroyo’s book.
84. Ibid., pp. 63–64.
85. Ibid., p. 69.
86. “EWTN Celebrates Mother Angelica’s 90th Birthday,” Catholic News Agency, April 19, 2013.
87. Joseph Pronechen, “Happy 90th Birthday, Mother Angelica!,” www. ncregister. com, April 20, 2013.
88. Personal correspondence with Raymond Arroyo, November 18, 2013.