Homily, EWTN 25th Anniversary Celebration, Birmingham
Alfonso Cardinal López Trujillo
President, Pontifical Council for the Family
Homily delivered during the Eucharistic Celebration
By His Eminence, Alfonso Card. Lopez Trujillo
President, Pontifical Council for the Family
On the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of
The Eternal Word Television Network
Birmingham, Alabama, August 13, 2006
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is a great honor and joy for me to preside over this solemn concelebration, as we thank the Father of mercies from the bottom of our hearts. Twenty five years ago, Divine Providence inspired with an original and surprising initiative a religious sister who has dedicated her life in the Lord’s service in the Church, our beloved and esteemed Mother Angelica. The Eternal Word Television Network was born to bring the Word of Life to millions of believers throughout the world.
Mother Angelica created this wonderful service to the Church, a service that knows no bounds. How can we fail to thank the Lord whenever you broadcast the Holy Father’s important celebrations during all these fruitful years? EWTN’s activities extend in a special way to the defense and promotion of family and life, a charism truly dear to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. One among the many examples is EWTN’s generous coverage of the Fifth World Meeting of Families held in Valencia, Spain, last month, an event full of extraordinary faith. For this, the Pontifical Council for the Family is deeply grateful.
The project that at first seemed strange and too bold began in silence, prayer, and self-giving to the Lord. But its present consolidation and reach suggest to us a secret and a key that draw our attention and inspire our renewed appreciation. For indeed our beloved Mother Angelica was not a communications expert. Her initial and timid presentations attracted a large audience through her simplicity and sincerity, manifest in dialogues full of love for the truth and the teachings of the Church, with an unusual sense of humor and penetration, sealed by confident hope. This excellent work in the television, radio and the internet, has evolved into a most powerful means of proclaiming the Gospel which the world needs as desperately as we need fresh air.
What then is Mother Angelica’s secret? What is the key to her work’s effectiveness? Faithful to the project placed in God’s hands, we are led to the prayer of the Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Confidence in the Lord is the essential ingredient of this project. But it is a confidence that leads us to a more profound cause that corresponds to this Sunday’s theme: the Holy Eucharist, the great source of strength for our spirit.
Christ, the Bread of Everlasting Life, has moved the hearts of many to enthusiastically collaborate and dedicate their gifts and talents for this specific work of Evangelization. Mother Angelica has laid out an ample, varied and rich programming, explaining Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Church to lead viewers, listeners and navigators to its center, Jesus Christ. EWTN transmits the truth that what gives full meaning to our lives is loving service, and stimulates us to have the courage of faith, knowing that we are God’s children, in today’s world that risks moving away from the truth and not listening to the Lord, who says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
I imagine that there have also been reasons to worry. Doing good is not an easy task. To believe has its price. Whoever dedicates one’s life to the Word Incarnate, whoever proclaims Christ as our only Savior, is never exempted from the Cross. In Jesus, St. John of the Cross says, everything has been given to us.
In the first reading of our Mass we see the prophet Elijah tired along the way as he struggles to preach God against the idols, and declaring his defeat. The same temptation surely exists today. For example, it pains us to see attempts to modify God’s original plan for marriage and the family, and to sow a culture hostile to it, as if God were not the Lord of the family and life. Some parliaments come up with unjust laws that destroy the union of life and love in the mutual self-giving of a man and a woman: a commitment that in God’s plan is exclusive, faithful, until death and open to life. Without the support and example of parents, the children’s future is undermined. False and impossible alternatives are promoted, dehumanizing man and woman, the child, and the youth, not respecting them as persons, as God’s images and children. Man is betrayed in his dignity. He is treated as if he were an instrument, a thing!
But God’s angel fed the prophet, helped him to set on the way, and to continue living the adventure of his vocation. Likewise, we should not fall into the temptation of simply giving up, for the Lord feeds us with his flesh and blood, and with the Father sends to us his Spirit as our strength. In this regard, we thank our providential Network for exposing the abominable crime of abortion and the many other attacks against human life. Crime is converted into a right, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II explained, and is defended in many world forums, governments and parliaments. But as Pope Benedict XVI recently said, there are matters which cannot be negotiated.
The Church denounces inhuman conduct that according to the great theologian Romano Guardini, produces the infirmity of the spirit, resulting in a spirit without truth, freedom and hope. EWTN, reaching more than a hundred million homes on earth, gives a firm testimony that God lives, loves us, defends our dignity, redeems us at the price of His blood, and invites us not to sadden the Spirit. We have to imitate God, as his dearly beloved children, following the way of love, as the Letter to the Ephesians says: ¿How can we hate what God loves, or despise the human being, as if we were not concerned with him? We cannot follow the logic of love without following Christ’s example, in his supreme self-giving on the Cross to the Father. From a degradation that enslaves, only love can liberate us through the Gospel, the Good News of Christ who died and resurrected. With legitimate pride, continue your witness to the whole world. Only in this mystery of our faith can we preserve the world from ethical relativism and from the various forms of confusion that imprison the truth and generates the culture of death!
The Church, the community of believers, lives through the Bread of Life come down from heaven. The Church maintains her permanent youthfulness in the celebration of the Last Supper and the Paschal Sacrifice, the source of daily strength for Mother Angelica, her Sisters, the Franciscan Missionary community that she founded, and us all. This is the secret of this work that for us is like a continuous miracle, as we respond to the great challenges of Evangelization.
May Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who carried in her womb the Savior of the world, continue to bless you and give you the freshness of the spirit to respond to the call of Jesus, the only one who has the Words of everlasting Life.