Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Bishop Who Could Make Grown Men Weep

With thanks to Whispers in the Loggia.

Next Wednesday sees the 30th anniversary of the death of the prelate who, quite possibly, became American Catholicism's most consequential product of all: Fulton Sheen, the Illinois farmboy who famously trumped "Mr Television" in the ratings and, in the process, delivered the death blow to the long history of societal suspicion directed at the church's own on these shores.

With the evidence of his heroic virtue -- the first step toward a possible beatification -- soon to face investigation in Rome, the archbishop's New York-based cause has sparked a worldwide roster of Masses to crop up to commemorate the anniversary, the largest of which will be held in St Patrick's Cathedral at 5.30 Wednesday night, to be celebrated and preached by a well-known devotee of Sheen's ministry in media: the Big Apple's Archbishop Tim Dolan.

In the history of the Stateside church, Dolan recently mused in an EWTN interview that "there’s never been anybody who’s been able to communicate the timeless truths of the Catholic religion to a very timely culture" as Sheen did, "without diluting any of the essentials."


pelerin said...

I'm so glad you have posted some of the videos by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I first came across one of his books long before I became a Catholic and was very impressed.

I have not seen any reference to him on other English blogs and his teaching is just as relevant to us in England in the 21st century as the United States during the last century - and he is so entertaining! And there is a wonderful choice of videos available on Youtube which people will discover after having viewed your blog if they search further.

I had not realised that he had only died 30 years ago. Dressed as he was in his programmes, with his theatrical swirl of his cape batman fashion, seems to come from another era one in which you could always recognise Priests, nuns etc. A couple of months ago I found myself seated opposite a nun who if I had not been introduced I would not have known her to be a nun. And in between two Priests both in open-necked shirts. After a glass of wine or two I plucked up courage to ask one of them why he no longer wore a clerical collar. 'Madame' he said gravely but with a twinkle in his eye 'wearing a clerical collar would not make me a better Priest!' Reluctantly I had to agree. I wonder what he would have thought of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's cloak?

The Bones said...

Absolutely Pelerin.

He dressed with the authority of Christ.

He spoke with the authority of Christ.

How we could do with an English Bishop with his zeal and his great gift for oratory!

pelerin said...

'He dressed and spoke with the authority of Christ' - exactly Laurence. Well put.

The little grand daughter of a friend came home from school some time ago all excited as the Bishop was coming to visit. The great day came and the grandmother questioned her about the event. The child was very crestfallen. The Bishop had turned up in a suit and the child had expected to see a mitre, crosier and vestments!

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