Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fulton Sheen

The following quote is from the chapter titled The Only Thing that Matters in Moods and Truths by Fulton Sheen (1932).

The Church believes [] that a holy hour spent before the Blessed Sacrament does more good for the well-being of the world than whole days spent in talking about Progress to the utter forgetfulness of the fact that the only true Progress consists in the diminution of the traces of original sin; she believes that a penitent returning to God is of far more consequence than the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France; that an increase of sanctifying grace in a soul is of far more value than the increase of international credit; that a group of cloistered nuns in prayer are more effective in preserving world peace than a group of world politicians discussing peace to the forgetfulness of the Prince of Peace; that all the beauties of nature do not compare in the smallest degree with the beauty of a soul in the state of grace; that the profoundest of scientific discoveries is as naught compared with the superior intellectual intuitions of a child at its first Communion; that the soul of a Bowery derelict is more precious in the sight of God than the success of any world policy; that it really does not matter very much whether children ever confuse Aristides with Aristotle, but it does matter if they confuse Buddha with Christ; that the fact that millions listen to a preacher over the radio is of no importance whatever, compared with a visit of a single soul to hear the sweet whisperings of Jesus from the tabernacle; that poverty is not the greatest curse; that physical infirmity is not the greatest ill; that the loss of a member of a family is not so serious as the loss of faith; that all the kingdoms of earth are as the least grain in the balance compared to the kingdom of a human heart in which Mary is Queen and Christ is King.

Is this excessive? Is this a loss of a sense of proportion? Is this foolishness? If it is, it is the foolishness of Our Lord: “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”

Every devotion to a heavenly ideal must seem foolish to a world the ideals of which are of the earth earthly. To some minds it must have seemed foolish for Our Lord on the Mount of Temptation to have repulsed Satan, when Satan, in a wild orgy of triumphant pride, revealed in all their fugitive splendor the great procession of the kingdoms of earth, and promised them to the Lord if only falling down He would adore him.

The foolishness of the Divine Founder has been the foolishness of the Divine Church. She, too, is set high on the mountaintop of the world. To that mountain, as to the Mount of Temptation, the specter of False Progress, New Freedom and Worldly Success come to her, and in vision reminds her of all the churches which would join her communion, all the individuals who would join her ranks, and of all the opposition, and persecution of the world that would cease if only falling down she would adore worldly success, be a little less interested in the spiritual education of the young, a little less emphatic about the sanctity of marriage, and a little less concerned with the salvation of souls.

With the quickness of a lightening flash the Church, conscious of fellowship with her Divine Master, echoes back the words of her Master, the charter cry of spiritual freedom: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His Justice.”

And as the specter of Error and Worldly Success makes its way down the mountaintop, it finds at its base all the little kingdoms of passing theories and ephemeral faiths prostrate in sickening adoration before it, and in contrast to the great kingdom set high upon the mountain, the Specter of Worldly Success, like the specter of Satin, begins to realize and understand that the greatness of the world never tempts the Great – but only the small!

Fulton Sheen, “The Only Thing That Matters, in Moods and Truths, 1932

This essay anticipates the difficulties of attempting to bring the so-called "Social Justice Promoters" back to the faith...

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