Mother Angelica’s Wisdom for Tired Parents

Debbie and Dave with a portrait of EWTN Foundress Mother Angelica at EWTN in Irondale, AL

March 27 marks the anniversary of Mother Angelica’s death, and we’re quickly approaching April 20, which would have been her 100th birthday on earth.

Mother Angelica has been a spiritual mother to Dave and me for a long time, even more so when I began working for EWTN.

She had the gift of being able to say exactly what I needed to hear. It was as if the message she was delivering in her books and TV shows was for me alone.

When we got the call on Easter Sunday in 2016 telling us that Mother had passed away, we knew that everything was going to change, though it’s hard to explain in writing. Since EWTN’s launch in 1981, Mother Angelica had always been praying fervently for the network and acting with complete trust in Divine Providence. When she died, I didn’t fully understand how powerful her intercession would be or how her example of trusting could be translated to my personal role in the mission of EWTN.

Dave and I attended Mother Angelica’s visitation on March 30, 2016, at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. When we approached her in her casket, I remember gazing upon her body and asking her, “Mother, is this it? This can’t be it.”

In my heart, I felt as if she were chuckling and telling me, “Oh, sweetheart, we’re just getting started. Now get cracking!”

I was about six months pregnant with our first child, and I had no idea what Mother meant. All I knew was that I was
very pregnant, very overwhelmed, and very unsure of what was happening next for EWTN and for my own life. I thought it was impossible for me to continue being a TV producer while caring for a newborn baby. Dave was in the first months of his competitive doctoral program and was not permitted to work due to the intense workload. Daycare was not an option. We had been married less than a year and were still adjusting to newlywed life while living in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment. There was a lot going on!

Yet somehow, it was as though Mother knew just what to say to simultaneously comfort me and embolden me to keep moving forward in faith, which she called “one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”

Amid immense stress and uncertainty, Mother Angelica taught us to trust God completely. Not only did everything work out, but it worked out better than we expected! I was able to continue working for EWTN, we could meet our family’s needs, and the other issues worked themselves out.

Parenting requires a lot of faith—having it, practicing it, keeping it, and sharing it. Mother knew how to do all of these; she modeled them time and time again, and she’s a perfect example to imitate. As they say, “Mother knows best!”

Her way of holiness is simple yet profound. She abandoned herself to God’s will, trusted in Divine Providence, and wasn’t afraid to do crazy things to accomplish her God-given mission.

Here are ten tips for parents, based on Mother Angelica’s timeless wisdom:

  1. When you’re struggling to be patient, Mother says:
    When I was a young novice, I used to pray in the early
    morning, “Dear Lord, today I am going to be patient come
    hell or high water.” And by nine o’clock came hell and
    high water! I blew it! . . . Patience is adjusting your time to
    God’s timing.

  2. When you’re feeling dryness in prayer, Mother says:
    I guarantee that if your soul is at peace because God is in
    charge, you’ll pray without ceasing, though you may not
    say prayers and you may not think beautiful meditations.

  3. When you’re feeling anxious about what the future holds, Mother says:
    We worry about the past, we worry about the future, and
    we worry about the present. I mean, what worry-warts we
    are! We worry instead of saying, “He’s watching me. He
    sees me and He loves me.” That’s why He says, “Courage.
    It is I. Do not be afraid.”

  4. When you’re trying to defeat sinful anger, Mother says:
    St. Jerome had a terrible temper. He would hit himself
    with a rock every time he lost his temper. I’d be dead as
    a doornail, with no ribs, if I did that. . . . Don’t say, “If it
    weren’t for that person, I could be holy.” No, you can be
    holy because of that person.

  5. When you’re asking why God allows suffering in your life, Mother says:
    Next to my vocation, the greatest gift I have is the pain I
    carry every day, because it forces me to cling to Jesus.. . .
    Holiness is not for wimps and the Cross is not negotiable,
    sweetheart, it’s a requirement.

  6. When you get pushback from others for the Faith you’re living, Mother says:
    It’s your obligation to speak the truth, and everyone can
    either take it or leave it. But truth must be in us. We live
    in such a poverty of truth today. . . . God wants you to be
    in the world, but so different from the world that you will
    change it. Get cracking!

  7. When it’s difficult to love your neighbor, Mother says:
    If I prefer the good of my neighbor to myself, I can rest
    assured that I love my neighbor in the same way God loves
    me, because that’s how He loves me in the Eucharist. If
    I can be dependent, self-sacrificing, humble, loving, and
    compassionate, then I love as God loves; I love as God
    loves me.

  8. When you realize you need to abandon yourself to God’s will, Mother says:
    To know that the Father’s Wisdom is in every cross is faith.
    To trust that everything that happens to us is for our good
    is hope. But to express our love for Him in the midst of
    darkness and aridity is the purest love.

  9. When you feel you’ve sinned too much for God to love you still, Mother says:
    God always forgives when you are totally repentant and you
    desire to change. He forgives . . . and He never gets tired of
    forgiving. Never. You may get tired of asking. I hope not.
    He never, never tires of forgiving. Never.

  10. When you’re discerning the next step in life, Mother says:
    Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not
    do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have
    to know everything about it; you just do it. . . . Everything
    starts with one person. . . . I don’t care if you’re 5 or 105,
    God from all eternity chose you to be where you are, at this
    time in history, to change the world.

    If you have not read much by Mother Angelica or have not
    watched her shows, I highly recommend spending time with her.
    You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be inspired to grow in
    your love of God and become a great saint.

This article is excerpted from “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven” (c) 2022 David and Debbie Cowden. Please only reproduce with permission.

One comment

  1. Great post
    This article is a beautiful tribute to the life and legacy of Mother Angelica. I appreciate how the author shared personal anecdotes of how Mother Angelica’s teachings and example have impacted their life. My question for the author is: How did Mother Angelica’s teachings influence the “ten tips for parents” shared in this post? Were there specific teachings or experiences that inspired each tip?


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