By Zoe Cannon
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” — Psalm 19:14
I love history, particularly reading, learning, and sharing the accounts of holy men and women of great faith. The witness of spiritual heroes will always be important. I enjoy watching old video footage and reading books about the life and teachings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. He was renowned as an Emmy-Award winning preacher who used television to bring Catholicism into American living rooms. There are over 300 talks archived by this great 20th-century bishop.
He was ordained in the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, in 1919, and taught theology at the Catholic University of America. He was a parish priest and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York from 1951 until 1966, when he was made Bishop of Rochester, before resigning in 1969. He died in 1979 at the age of 84 and left a great legacy to the Catholic Church. His insights may have been looked upon as entertaining or fear-mongering, but today the messages are regarded as prophetic genius, and there is a cause for his canonization to sainthood. The documentation of the first miracle was sent to Rome on December 11, 2011.
In 1947, Archbishop Fulton Sheen addressed an audience with this concern: “Why is it that so few realize the seriousness of our present crisis?” This was his answer 72 years ago: “Partly because men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because it involves too much self-accusation, and principally because they have no standards outside of themselves by which to measure their times . . . Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world. The great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on.”
In 1974, Archbishop Fulton Sheen spoke truth to another generation: “We are at the end of Christendom.” He clarified that he didn’t mean Christianity or the Church, he said, “Christendom is economic, political, social life as inspired by Christian principles. That is ending; we’ve seen it die. Look at the symptoms: the breakup of the family, divorce, abortion, immorality, general dishonesty.”
I was a senior at Rivet High School in 1974; I was not interested in prophecies from Archbishop Sheen. But 45 years later, his words are important to me. With the gift of hindsight and Christian maturity, I believe the destruction of life and family goes far beyond his warning in 1974. The current politics of our country certainly foster a break-down of life and family relative to God’s plan. Don’t buy in to a world void of Christian principles.
Successful conversation is the starting point of all relationships. There are reasons to suggest that society has lost the ability to interrelate. We are falsely protected by the facelessness and lack of accountability behind social media or phone messaging. We are restricted by political correctness, with accusations of bigotry and intolerance. The division of society is intensified by the news media, though many argue that the media is not the enemy. We don’t even agree on what we are disagreeing about!
We lack skills to communicate efficiently, even with the ability at our fingertips. In the 18th century, it took two weeks to mail information to someone 100 miles away. In 1932, President Roosevelt used radio, in the 1950s and 60’s Archbishop Sheen used television; these sources were trusted with facts and the best interest of all people. We have a trust crisis in our country — an age of misinformation! Enjoy conversation with your loved ones — without television, radio or phones; teach a child how to write a letter and mail it . . . it should arrive in a few days. Amen!