Friday, August 4, 2017

God Is Looking For Dodoes

I'm listening to the biography of Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, on audio book in the car for the second time. I love her. She was a poor student in high school, came from a broken home, was racked by health problems throughout her life, and had a feisty temper. But she had great great faith. She was a great evangelist, trusting in the Holy Spirit to lead and guide her, even when it didn't make sense or was a frightening prospect. As she was known to say, "Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach."

I also love that Mother Angelica did some ridiculous things, took risks for God. When she felt the Lord calling her to start a Catholic television network (with no broadcasting or communications experience), she didn't hesitate to get started. On September 18, 1980 already hundreds of thousands of dollars in arrears Mother Angelica was about to order a 33 foot satellite dish from scientific Atlanta at a cost of $350,000 when she hesitated: where would you get the money and what if it never came? Most would've cut their losses and run but Angelica proceeded with the order exercising what she would later call her "Theology of Risk."

"You want to do something for the Lord do it whatever you feel needs to be done even though you're shaking in your boots you're scared to death. Take the first step forward, for grace comes with that one step and you get the grace as you step. Being afraid is not a problem--it's doing nothing when you're afraid."

I was raised to eschew risk. I'm all about being financially responsible and playing it safe, being level headed and a planner and responsible, ensuring security for myself and my family. But Mother wasn't really any of this, and these things I consider a badge of honor in the world can actually act against radical faith. She loved the Lord with a childlike faith, and nothing was too good for Him, whom she trusted to provide in all things as long as she was doing her part for His kingdom. She spent lavishly on the things of the Lord, took high-stakes risks, never knew what was around the corner or the next steps until the Lord revealed it to her, and wasn't afraid to change course when it became clear she was being directed elsewhere. One of my favorite sayings of hers is her recognition of being a true fool for Christ, a "Dodo" as she called herself:

"I am convinced God is looking for dodoes. He found one: me! There are a lot of smart people out there who know it can't be done, so they don't do it. But a dodoe doesn't know it can't be done. God uses dodoes: people who are willing to look ridiculous so God can do the miraculous."

Over the years as my faith has grown, I see that the things the world esteems--financial security, playing it safe, planning the future, keeping religion and faith private and in a box--none of these things really allows God to work. Every now and then I've broken out of that pattern by the Holy Spirit, whether it's buying a school bus to live in or flying to San Francisco on an inspiration to minister to my friend Joseph Sciambra at the Gay Pride parade. Every time I have taken a crazy risk like that for Him, God has answered with great graces, opened doors, and provided new opportunities to spread the Word. The more I do it, the more I trust Him, though I have a long way to go.

Examples of a radical, trusting, child-like faith, like that of Mother Angelica's, during our lifetime proves that saints aren't mummified in the Middle Ages--they live today! Doing the great things of God doesn't depend on our power, intellect, or ability--in fact, those things can sometimes work against us--but only our faith, trust, and obedience for God to do the work through us, to use the gifts He has give us.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of people like Mother Angelica, who recognized her faults and limitations but was not afraid to take risks for You. You can do great things through fools for Christ like her. May we all be dodoes for the Lord!

1 comment:

  1. Thank God for Mother Angelica, and for the people she inspired - and still inspires - like you, Rob. Glad you went to be with Joseph Sciambra in SF - he is a hero to me!