In a new publication, EWTN Publishing brings together eight of Mother Angelica’s miniature books into one hardbound edition. This collection is titled Guide to Practical Holiness. This book contains Mother Angelica’s thoughts on how we are called to be holy.
Throughout the book, Mother Angelica’s writing encourages us to live holy lives in this secular world. Each of these books were handwritten by Mother Angelica during Eucharist Adoration.
Here is what wisdom we can glean from just one of these miniature books, called “Three Keys to the Kingdom”.
1. Memory and Hope
“Our Memory and Imagination can be used in a most marvelous way in our prayer life, but the emphasis must be on God and not ourselves,” Mother Angelica writes. “Since all things are present to God, we can use our memory to recall an incident in the life of Jesus, and then our imagination can put into that scene all the visual props necessary to ‘see’ it in our minds.”
Read Matthew 19:13-15, where Jesus is teaching and the children were brought to Jesus and the disciples tried to send them away. Think back to where you were 10 years old, and imagine your parents bringing you to see Jesus. Imagine their hope that He would bless you. Think about how you would feel seeing Him. What is your reaction when the disciples push you away, when they tell you to go back to your parents? Now, imagine Jesus told the disciples to let you come see Him, and you turning back to Him, this time running towards Him and giving Him a great big hug!
Hope plays a key role in keeping our memory and imagination from harboring resentment, Mother Angelica goes on to explain. “No matter how dark things seem to be, our little boat is being guided by the hand of a loving and omnipotent Father. Hope is that virtue that makes our Memory recall God’s plan in our moment to moment existence. It gives us the ability to substitute other memories more positive and assuring. It is a lack of Hope that makes our Memory retain resentments and our Imagination project fear into the future.”
2. Understanding and Faith
“The intellect is a faculty that is sublime and makes us master of every other form of life in this world,” Mother Angelica writes. “But unless it, too, is elevated to a higher level, it may accomplish great things in the eyes of the world but it will always be limited in its effect upon mankind. It must have something to increase its capabilities and capacity. It must have Faith to accept God.”
Ephesians 4:22-24. In Scripture, Saint Paul writes about how the Ephesians need to remove their old ways and put on “new self” that God has created. Pray that God shows you some ways you use your intellect in the ways of this world rather than through the mind of God. Take off those old ways, and show the world your new self.
Mother Angelica continues, writing about the importance of our faith lives. “Faith keeps alive the realization that there is a God. I have the power to bring that God into our very souls, for it is a grace, given by God’s own Spirit. It makes us think like God,” she says. “Faith in Jesus elevates our reasoning powers to a level of light undreamed of before. The Understanding is no longer dependent upon visible things alone; it penetrates and fathoms invisible things – things of God – things that eye has not seen nor ear heard.”
To further contemplate on your own faith life, read each of the parables in Matthew 13, along with their explanations. Where does your faith lie – is it among the rock, or the weeds, or the good soil? While our logic and intellect may have difficulty in understanding where our faith lies, ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind to the Scriptures.
3. Love and Will
“The Love between the Father and the Son is a Person – the Holy Spirit,” Mother Angelica writes. “He is Love and Love is a Power…and unless we grow in His kinda of love, we shall never bear the fruit that lasts”
Want to delve deeper into Mother Angelica’s third key? Read John 17 and focus on verses 21-24. Jesus shows us His love for us through his prayers. Afterward, turn to John 3:16 and reflect on God’s love for you.
Mother Angelica also writes about the role that our will plays when it comes to striving for holiness. “Our Will, made to resemble the Holy Spirit, is also a power, and, like Him, it seeks for what is good – it seeks love,” she explains. “Our Will chooses and puts into action whatever our Memory and Understanding present to it. If our Memory and Understanding are centered only on ourselves, then our Will ever tends to choose whatever gratifies self.”
After reading Mother Angelica’s thoughts on love and the will, read Matthew 7:21-23. Find an area in your life where you may be gratifying your self, repent and do the will of the Lord.
While this is just a short summary of one mini book included as a whole work in Guide to Practical Holiness, there is much more to learn and ponder from the words of Mother Angelica. God truly inspired Mother Angelica as a teacher. Today, we find inspiration in her reflections on practical holiness.