Raymond Arroyo, longtime right hand man for Mother Angelica, tells the rest of the story about the woman who created the Catholic broadcast empire known as EWTN.
As a follow up to his 2005 biography, "Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles," his new book, "Mother Angelica: Her Grand Silence" focuses on the years after the debilitating stroke Mother Angelica suffered in 2001.
A good portion of the book retells the early days of Rita Rizzo, who was born into a poor family in an Italian neighborhood in Canton, Ohio. Her father left the family when Rita was quite young, causing depression in her mother and stomach problems in the girl. A novena to St. Therese cured Rita's stomach ailment and started her on her religious path.
Spirituality and overcoming adversity remain the twin themes of the book as we learn that in 1952, then-Sister Angelica wanted to start a religious order to counteract racism and to court black vocations. After back problems, she promised to start a monastery in the South if she could be healed. She showed her entrepreneurial skills by selling fishing lures to raise money. Fishing lures gave way to roasted peanuts, which paid off the monastery mortgage. Then she started taping her talks and selling them. After giving an interview on Chicago television, she realized she needed to go large and sought out a studio and broadcast antenna to reach the masses.
Visits with mystics, visions of the baby Jesus and the devil, and a story of bilocation, the ability to be in two places at once, add a supernatural color to the pages of Mother's life story.
Arroyo reprints letters from viewers, mostly people who discovered Mother Angelica on their televisions by accident. Through her television and radio networks she has helped people overcome addictions and health crises. This makes Arroyo comes across as an apologist for Mother Angelica, writing about the wonderful things she has done and great works of her legacy. He seems to have a hard time keeping focus. He weaves in and out of Mother's history, her battles within her community, and her struggles after her stroke in every chapter, causing the reader to see less of her and learn less of her than in his first book.
"Mother Angelica: Her Grand Silence," by Raymond Arroyo, is available through Image Catholic Books.