My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Thursday, June 28, 2012

VENERABLE Fulton J. Sheen!!!!!!!!!!!!


BREAKING NEWS from The Theological-Librarian (aka Hurt-ey):

The Catholic Church in America can now ask Her newest venerable to intercede for Her at this critical moment in our nation’s history.

The Servant of God Archbishop Fulton John Sheen is now VENERABLE Fulton John Sheen!

The National Catholic Register reports:
The Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is now “Venerable” after the Vatican announced today that Benedict XVI had signed a decree recognising [sic] that the archbishop heroically lived Christian virtues.[1]

The Seattle Times, in its Associated Press article, reports:
Pope Benedict XVI has put Fulton John Sheen, the U.S. bishop whose radio and TV shows denouncing Communism and liberal psychology had a big following, on the path to sainthood.
     The Vatican said Thursday the pope formally recognized the `'heroic virtues" of Sheen, a former Rochester bishop who died in New York in 1979. That formality paves the way for procedures aimed at possible beatification, the last formal step before sainthood.[2]

I want to take issue with that article’s narrow view of the scope of Sheen’s radio and television broadcasts.  For one thing, the article makes it sound as if Sheen’s arguments against Communism and against Freudian psychology were the bulk of his preaching, or as if Sheen’s “big following” only followed him because he preached what was convenient or popular, as if he preached against Communism when it was not popular, and for Communism when the American people were inclined towards it.  No!  When Communism was popular in America, Sheen fought it, he pointed out its errors.  And when the American people became disillusioned with it, Sheen repeated the same words.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Holy Father declared Sheen to be “Venerable” on the same day the HHS Mandate was upheld.  Venerable Fulton Sheen, you who were truly “America’s Bishop”—you who loved America as long as she stood for freedom and for God, you who preached and upheld religious freedom against the tryranny of Communism—intercede for our country.

* * *
Why does Thomas C. Reeves call his book “America’s” Bishop?  Why not New York’s Bishop, or Rochester’s Bishop, or Peoria’s Bishop?  What is it about Sheen—and it has to be something more than the fact that he was on national television for several* years--that appeals to all of America, to the American people, that makes him a saint that we need now, when our government is destroying its people’s freedom of religion and of conscience?

As I wrote in my blog post Tuesday:

Why?  Why take a man from the 20th century, a man who was familiar with the media--radio and television--of his day but who would probably look upon the 21st century's obsession with Smartphones, wireless Internet, Twitter, and Facebook as distracting from real communication with God and with neighbor, and "eternalize" him by raising him to the altar?  Why canonize a man who admittedly had a serious problem with pride and vanity[3], who didn’t preach fasting because he himself didn’t practice it in any extraordinary manner[4], and whose writings on suffering and on objective truth seem intolerable to our modern world that avoids suffering at any cost and sees truth as subjective?  Why bother spending millions of dollars investigating his personal sanctity, the orthodoxy of his writings, or his squabbles with Cardinal Spellman over the allocation of funds for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith[5], when he otherwise would have stayed in that “memory hole”?

Because if the miracle under investigation is found to be authentic, if Sheen’s writings are determined to be orthodox and free from heretical teaching, then he may one day be declared a saint.  And a saint is one who preaches Truth—not the relative, changing “truth” of our modern world, but the eternal, living Truth Who is Christ.  The manner in which he preaches that Truth may change; his analogies and metaphors may adapt to the changing worldviews of his audience; but it is always the same Truth that he preaches.[6]

What Sheen has to offer us now in the 21st century, in the Year of Our Lord two thousand twelve, is advice, and hope.

Stay tuned for the next edition of “Theological Librarian,” and (hopefully) a post on Sheen and religious freedom.

God Love you!

Yours in all things theological and in love of Venerable Fulton Sheen,
Hurt-ey


[3] Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay: the Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, (New York: Doubleday, 1980), 335-7.
[4]Ibid., 338.
[5]Thomas C. Reeves, America’s Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen, (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2001), 252-7.
[6]Emily C. Hurt, “VENERABLE Fulton Sheen: Theologian? Timeless?” http://theological-librarian.blogspot.com/2012/06/fulton-sheen-theologian-timeless.html.  Accessed June 28, 2012.