Homily for EWTN's 25th Anniversary Mass
Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVA
Televised from Irondale
15 August 2006
Solemnity of the Assumption
We welcome His Eminence, Alphonso Cardinal López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. On behalf of Mother Angelica and the whole EWTN family, I wish to express to you our gratitude for your presence at these 25th anniversary celebrations. Your presence has added to our joy as has your bringing with you the blessings of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Now that you have met the nuns, the friars, our devoted staff and so many of our viewers, you know us and we hope that you will return to visit us again. We are grateful for your much needed work for the defense and protection of the family and we promise you our prayers for your work.
It is an great honor for me to have this opportunity to preach on this 25th Anniversary of the launching of EWTN, which took place just a few feet from this chapel. Although I wasn't here at the time, that signal would reach me some 800 miles away with Mother's message that holiness and spiritual growth is for everyone. I can honestly say that I am one of those whose life is better, because of EWTN, which helped to bring me closer to our Lord.
I think that there could be no more appropriate gospel for today's 25th Anniversary celebration than the one that we have for this Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary: Mary's great hymn of praise, the Magnificat.
Our beloved foundress, Mother Angelica, who began her religious life 62 years ago today — knowing nothing of God's future designs for her, nor of the way that this network founded later would grow, could well repeat the words of Mary today:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ... the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His Name.
These 25 years are indeed an act of God's mercy to a world starving for God, a world needing to know how to know and love God, Who is the satisfaction of every human heart. And so all of us who have benefited from the message of the Network could well repeat some of Mary's words today, too: He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.... He has remembered His promise of mercy.
Yes, in our generation, in these 25 years in which we have seen the ending of one millennium and beginning of another, God has shown us his mercy in raising up this work to bring His mercy to so many souls.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in speaking of the demise of Christianity in Europe and the forecast that it will diminish further, said something that gives me much hope. He said: We can never predict how God will intervene.
Who could have predicted 25 years ago what has taken place? Who would have had any idea that a cloistered nun with no knowledge of television — but with $200 and faith would found what would become the largest religious media network in the world? And who can predict what He has planned for the future?
God chooses the weak things of the world, so that mankind can do no boasting before God, St. Paul says. God does so, so that His work and His mercy, His Presence and His intervention are more obvious. This work was not accomplished by the deliberations of successful businessmen, but by the simple faith and prayer of a nun — and those inspired to help her.
And so it was Mother's "fiat" to God's inspiration and it was also the "fiats" of many others whom God inspired to help her. That includes the young women who would join the cloister; the young men who would join the friars and the knights; the employees who would take cuts in their salary's to work here AND — you dear friends who are with us through television and radio and internet, — it includes, in a very big way, all of you.
So many of those who came to celebrate with us this weekend told me that they pray for us every day. Thank you for praying for us and spiritually supporting us. You bring about through your silent prayers a greater fruitfulness to our labors here. Those of you who are homebound and perhaps feel that your life is meaningless — let me assure you — it is meaningful to us! We thank you and we ask you to please continue to remember this work in your prayers and your offerings to God.
And for all of you who have so generously donated to us over these 25 years, enabling this necessary work to continue and to grow — a big "thank you" to you. As Mother Angelica so often said: This Network is brought to you by you.
You see, dear friends, everyone of us can just give up and simply bemoan the loss of faith and morality throughout the world OR we can be part of doing something to bring about a change for the better. As St. Paul said, overcome evil with good. And what "good" is better than the Good News of Jesus Christ. He is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, we heard in the second reading from St. Paul. Mary, assumed into Heaven, is another of the fruits of the resurrection. St. Paul, continued saying that all those who belong to Christ will be brought to life. That is what this network is about. That all might belong to Christ and have life in Him.
This past weekend, I think that people from most all of the States in the Union came to celebrate with us and the thousands who have come are a great source of joy and encouragement to all of us here. You show us some of the fruits of the Network — and so many of you expressed your genuine gratitude for this light in the darkness. The young lady on the Live Show Saturday night told us to please not stop what we are doing — because it helped her to find Jesus Christ and to love Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
And as all of us look forward to the years ahead of us, we who have benefited from the Network and are part of the fruits of the Network, — we now have the joyful obligation, to labor for its continued fruitfulness. The Lord said to the apostles before sending them out, Freely you have received, freely you are to give. That should be our motto for the years ahead. Freely I have received, freely I will give. What I have received and so benefited from, was for me, but not for me alone. Others must be given this too. Use me, Jesus, as You will. It is necessary that this work continue and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to a starving world.
Finally, I would like to close with a personal message to one who is watching this morning from her quiet room in the monastery. She now has a more hidden role in the Network, but a no less valuable one, in living her cloistered life. Perhaps that is Mother's message to all of us today: that when all is said and done, what will be remembered about EWTN is not "what" was done, but "how" it was done. That it is God, Who is mighty, Who has done great things and that the most powerful thing that you and I can do, is to turn to Him with great faith, a loving and willing heart and humble prayer. This, can AND HAS moved mountains and we have been privileged to witness it.
Mother, I love you, and so do the thousands who came to celebrate this past weekend — and so do untold numbers who are reached daily throughout the world through EWTN. Thank you for helping us to know and to love Jesus in the Holy Eucharist; thank you for teaching us how to trust God more; thank you for teaching us how to be joyful in suffering; thank you for giving the world hope — because you gave it Jesus; and thank you for being a mother to us all.
Holy Mary is the Most Blessed of all women. Blessed are you, too, Mother, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. May God bless you and give you much joy today.
Celebrant: Let us now offer our prayers to God with faith and hope and love.
Lector: For the Church — that Mary, assumed into Heaven, assist Her in the ways of holiness.
For Cardinal López Trujillo — that his work may bear much fruit for the good of family life and bring about a renewal in the appreciation of family values in society.
For Mother Angelica — in thanksgiving for her faith and her "yes" to God — and that the Lord may grant her this day blessings, healing and joy.
For EWTN — in thanksgiving for God's continued providential care and that, in the years to come, many more souls may come to know, love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
For all of the EWTN employees past and present — that they may be blessed abundantly for their labors and sacrifices.
For all those who support the work of EWTN in any way — that they may receive one-hundredfold in this life and inherit eternal life.
For all of the deceased benefactors of EWTN — that they be granted the joys of eternal life.
Celebrant: All-powerful God, You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, body and soul to the glory of Heaven. May we see Heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord.