Fulton J. Sheen: Communism and the Conscience of the West (1948)

Mgr. Fulton J. Sheen

Communism and the Conscience of the West (1948)

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“[Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the [Catholic] Church. . . . It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.”

Quote:

The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no followers. He will not wear red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a trident nor wave an arrowed tail as Mephistopheles in Faust. This masquerade has helped the Devil convince men that he does not exist. When no man recognizes, the more power he exercises. God has defined Himself as “I am Who am,” and the Devil as “I am who am not.”
Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the Devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first “red.” Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, as “the Prince of this world,” whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple: if there is no heaven there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge, and if there is no judgment then evil is good and good is evil. But above all these descriptions, Our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself that he would deceive even the elect–and certainly no devil ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect. How will he come in this new age to win followers to his religion?
The pre-Communist Russian belief is that he will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves. . . .
. . . The third temptation in which Satan asked Christ to adore him and all the kingdoms of the world would be His, will become the temptation to have a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a religion to destroy a religion, or a politics which is a religion–one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s.
In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God. Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ. . . .
. . . But the twentieth century will join the counterchurch because it claims to be infallible when its visible head speaks ex cathedra from Moscow on the subject of economics and politics, and as chief shepherd of world communism.

(Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West [Bobbs-Merril Company, Indianapolis, 1948], pp. 24-25)

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/28/fulton-j-sheen-communism-and-the-conscience-of-the-west-1948/

Why God Loves us

Why God Loves us

Archbishop Fulton Sheen 

“God did not love me because I am lovable. I became lovable because God poured some of His goodness and love into me. I then began to apply this charity to my neighbor. If I do not find him lovable, I have to put love into him as God puts love into me, and thereby I provoke the response of love. Now, my personality is restored and I make the great discovery that no one is happy until he loves both God and neighbor.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/27/why-god-loves-us/

An Act of Hope and Confidence in God

 An Act of Hope and Confidence in God

by St. Claude De La Colombiere

My God, I believe most firmly that Thou watchest over all who hope in Thee, and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon Thee in all things; therefore I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties, and to cast all my cares upon Thee.

People may deprive me of worldly goods and of honors; sickness may take from me my strength and the means of serving Thee; I may even lose Thy grace by sin; but my trust shall never leave me. I will preserve it to the last moment of my life, and the powers of hell shall seek in vain to wrestle it from me.
Let others seek happiness in their wealth, in their talents; let them trust to the purity of their lives, the severity of their mortifications, to the number of their good works, the fervor of their prayers; as for me, O my God, in my very confidence lies all my hope. “For Thou, O Lord, singularly has settled me in hope.” This confidence can never be in vain. “No one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded.”
I am assured, therefore, of my eternal happiness, for I firmly hope for it, and all my hope is in Thee. “In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; let me never be confounded.”
I know, alas! I know but too well that I am frail and changable; I know the power of temptation against the strongest virtue. I have seen stars fall from heaven, and pillars of firmament totter; but these things alarm me not. While I hope in Thee I am sheltered from all misfortune, and I am sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon Thee to sustain this unfailing hope.
 
Finally, I know that my confidence cannot exceed Thy bounty, and that I shall never receive less than I have hoped for from Thee. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most furious assults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness to triumph over my most powerful enemies. I hope that Thou wilt never cease to love me, and that I shall love Thee unceasingly. “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.”

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/26/an-act-of-hope-and-confidence-in-god/

THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – THE WOMAN I LOVE

THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

THE WOMAN I LOVE

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/25/the-blessed-virgin-mary-the-woman-i-love/

Mary, the World’s First Love

Mary

The World’s First Love

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/25/mary-the-worlds-first-love/

FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

March 25

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FROM THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE KINGDOM OF THE DIVINE WILL

DAY 19

Mama and Baby JesusLesson of the Sovereign Queen:

Now, child of my Heart, pay attention to Me and listen: several days before the descent of the Eternal Word upon earth, I could see Heaven opened and the Sun of the Divine Word at Its doors, as though to look out for the one upon whom He was to take His flight, to render Himself Celestial Prisoner of one creature. Oh, how beautiful it was to see Him at the doors of Heaven, as though on the lookout to spy the fortunate creature who was to host her Creator! The Sacrosanct Trinity no longer looked at the earth as alien to It, because there was little Mary who, by possessing the Divine Will, had formed Its Divine Kingdom in which the Word could safely descend, as in His own residence, in which He would find Heaven and the many suns of the many acts of Divine Will done within my soul. The Divinity overflowed with love, and removing the mantle of Justice which It had worn with the creatures for so many centuries, It covered Itself with the mantle of infinite mercy, and decreed the descent of the Word… and It was now in the act of sounding the hour of fulfillment! At this sound, Heaven and earth were astounded, and all stood at attention, to be spectators of such a great excess of love, and a prodigy so unheard-of.

Your Mama felt ignited with love, and echoing the love of my Creator, I wanted to form one single sea of love, so that the Word might descend upon earth within it. My prayers were incessant, and while I was praying in my little room, an Angel came, sent from Heaven as messenger of the great King. He came before Me, and bowing, he hailed Me: “Hail, O Mary, our Queen; the Divine Fiat has filled You with grace. He has already pronounced His Fiat, for He wants to descend; He is just behind my shoulders, but He wants your Fiat to form the fulfillment of His Fiat.”

At such a great announcement, so much desired by Me – although I had never thought I was to be the chosen one – I was stupefied and I hesitated one instant. But the Angel of the Lord told Me: “Do not fear, our Queen, for You have found grace before God. You have conquered your Creator; therefore, to complete the victory – pronounce your Fiat.”

I pronounced my Fiat, and – oh, marvel! – the two Fiat fused together and the Divine Word descended into Me. My Fiat, which received the same value as the Divine Fiat, from the seed of my humanity, formed the tiny little Humanity which was to enclose the Word, and so the great prodigy of the Incarnation was accomplished.

Oh, power of the Supreme Fiat! You raised Me so high as to render Me powerful, to the point of being able to create within Me that Humanity which was to enclose the Eternal Word, Whom Heaven and earth could not contain! The Heavens were shaken, and all Creation assumed the attitude of feast. Exulting with joy, they peeked over the little house of Nazareth, to give homages and obsequies to the Creator made man; and in their mute language, they said: “Oh, prodigy of prodigies, which only a God could do! Immensity has become little, power has made itself powerless, His unreachable height has lowered itself deep into the abyss of the womb of a Virgin and, at the same time, He is little and immense, powerful and powerless, strong and weak!”

My dear child, you cannot comprehend what your Mama felt in the act of the Incarnation of the Word. All pressed upon Me and awaited my Fiat, I could say, omnipotent.

Now, dear child, listen to Me: how much you should take to your heart doing the Divine Will and living of It! My power still exists: let Me pronounce my Fiat over your soul. But in order to do this, I want your own. One alone cannot do true good; the greatest works are always done between two. God Himself did not want to do it by Himself, but wanted Me together with Him, to form the great prodigy of the Incarnation. In my Fiat and in His, the life of the Man-God was formed; the destiny of mankind was restored, Heaven was no longer closed, and all goods were enclosed between the two Fiat. Therefore, let us say together, “Fiat! Fiat!”, and my maternal love will enclose in you the life of the Divine Will.

Enough for now; tomorrow I will wait for you again, to narrate to my child the continuation of the Incarnation.


The soul:

Beautiful Mama, I feel stupefied in hearing your beautiful lessons. O please! I pray You to pronounce your Fiat over me; and I will pronounce my own, so that the Fiat which You so much yearn to reign as life in me, may be conceived within me.


Little Sacrifice:

Today, to honor Me, You will come to give the first kiss to Jesus, and will say to Him, as many as nine times, that you want to do His Will; and I will repeat the prodigy of making Jesus be conceived in your soul.


Ejaculatory Prayer:

Powerful Queen, pronounce your Fiat, and create the Divine Will in me.

The Catholic Encyclopedia:  The fact of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is related in Luke 1:26-38. The Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused (i.e. married) to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother’s house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. (Bardenhewer, Maria Verk., 69). And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: “Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favoured one), the Lord is with thee.” Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation. And the angel continued and said: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.” The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (St. Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word of Godlike Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: “How shall this be done, because I know not man?”

The angel to remove Mary’s anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: “And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God.” Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.”

The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother He is a member of the human race. If the virginity of Mary before, during, and after the conception of her Divine Son was always considered part of the deposit of faith, this was done only on account of the historical facts and testimonials. The Incarnation of the Son of God did not in itself necessitate this exception from the laws of nature. Only reasons of expediency are given for it, chiefly, the end of the Incarnation. About to found a new generation of the children of God, The Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Sts. Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of God, St. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/25/feast-of-the-annunciation-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary/

Santa Maria Greca – Corato

Santa Maria Greca – Corato

On the occasion of the feast of the Madonna Greca, after a complex process of restoration, it will be reopened to the crypt of the Shrine which houses the icon depicting the Madonna Greca (oil on panel). According to tradition, the effigy to the miraculous events that took place in 1656 and that have made ​​the protector of Corato.

Located in the historic center, the Diocesan Shrine of Santa Maria Greca is a valuable building that has for the city and for the Archdiocese of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie great importance in terms of historical, artistic and religious.

Throughout the ages, has been a place of pilgrimage related to Marian devotion. Since 1963, with the burial of the mortal remains of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta (which is in the process of beatification), the church has also become a destination for visitors from all over the world.

The growing number of visitors who are attracted to other artifacts of artistic present in it, has made ​​it increasingly necessary to adapt the facilities, services and spaces to the changing needs.

The building consists of an upper church and a crypt has been, over time, various changes, demolitions, reconstructions and additions to the present day.

The restoration was made ​​possible in part thanks to the financing of the fund 8xmille of the Catholic Church and the Financing of the Italian region of Puglia. Above all, however, must be counted the economic effort of so many parishioners who have generously contributed because this place was returned to the city for the benefit of all. A special thank you, I wish to extend to those who actually carried out the restoration. First in the designer and director of the work arch. Rosalia Lojodice, to the Company Co.me.st. Giuseppe Storelli and all the workers intervened with competence and generosity.

Sac. Sergio Pellegrini, pastor

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/24/santa-maria-greca-corato/

Luisa Piccarreta – 2005 Congress, Corato Italy

Luisa Piccarreta – 2005 Congress, Corato Italy 2005

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/24/luisa-piccarreta-2005-congress-corato-italy/

FORGIVE EVERYONE

From the

Hours of the Passion

Twentieth Hour – Father forgive them…”

van-dyck-crucifixion-1622My Crucified Good, I see You on the Cross, as on the Throne of your triumph, in the act of conquering everything and all hearts, and of drawing them so closely to You, that all may feel your superhuman power. Horrified at such a great crime, nature prostrates itself before You, and waits in silence for a word from You, to pay You honor and let your dominion be recognized.

The sun, crying, withdraws its light, unable to sustain your sight, too sorrowful. Hell is terrified and waits in silence. Everything is silence. Your pierced Mama, your faithful ones, are all mute; and petrified at the sight of your torn and dislocated Humanity – alas, too painful, they are silently waiting for a word from You. Your very Humanity is silent, lying in a sea of pains, among the harrowing spasms of agony; so much so that they fear You are going to die at each breath!

What more? Even the perfidious Jews and the ruthless executioners who, up to a little while ago, were offending You, mocking You, calling You impostor, criminal; even the thieves who were cursing You – everyone is silent, mute. Remorse invades them, and if they try to launch an insult against You, it dies on their lips.

But as I penetrate into your interior, I see that love overflows; it suffocates You and You cannot contain it. And forced by your love that torments You more than the pains themselves, with strong and moving voice, You speak as the God You are; You raise your dying eyes to Heaven, and exclaim: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing!” And, again, You close Yourself in silence, immersed in unheard-of pains.

Crucified Jesus, how can so much love be possible? Ah, after so many pains and insults, your first word is of forgiveness; and You excuse us before the Father for so many sins! Ah, You make this word descend into each heart after sin, and You are the first to offer forgiveness. But how many reject it and do not accept it; your love is then taken by follies, because You anxiously desire to give your forgiveness and the kiss of peace to all!

At this word, hell trembles and recognizes You as God; nature and everyone remain astonished; they recognize your Divinity, your inextinguishable love, and silently wait to see where it reaches. And not only your voice, but also your Blood and your wounds, cry out to every heart after sin: “Come into my arms, for I forgive you, and the seal of forgiveness is the price of my Blood.” O my lovable Jesus, repeat this word again to all the sinners which are in the world. Beseech mercy for all; apply the infinite merits of your most precious Blood for all. O good Jesus, continue to placate Divine Justice for all, and concede your grace to those who, finding themselves in the act of having to forgive, do not feel the strength to do it.

My Jesus, adored Crucified, in these three hours of most bitter agony, You want to give fulfillment to everything; and while, silent, You remain on this Cross, I see that in your interior You want to satisfy the Father in everything. You thank Him for all, You satisfy Him for all, You beseech forgiveness for all, and for all You impetrate the grace that they may never again offend You. In order to impetrate this from the Father You go through all of your life, from the first instant of your conception, up to your last breath. My Jesus, endless love, let me go through all your life together with You, with the inconsolable Mama, with Saint John, and with the pious women.

FORGIVE EVERYONE

In Dostoevsky’s great last work, The Brothers Karamazov, the story is told of Markel, brother of the Elder Zossima. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, he is dying. In those last days he came to a renewed faith in God and a truly profound understanding of forgiveness. In a conversation with his mother she wonders how he can possibly be so joyful in so serious a stage of his illness. His response is illustrative of the heart of the Orthodox Christian life.

’Mama,’ he replied to her, ‘do not weep, life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we don’t want to realize it, and if we did care to realize it, paradise would be established in all the world tomorrow.’ And we all wondered at his words, so strangely and so resolutely did he say this; we felt tender emotion and we wept….’Dear mother, droplet of my blood,’ he said (at that time he had begun to use endearments of this kind, unexpected ones), ‘beloved droplet of my blood, joyful one, you must learn that of a truth each of us is guilty before all for everyone and everything. I do not know how to explain this to you, but I feel that it is so, to the point of torment. And how could we have lived all this time being angry with one another and knowing nothing of this?’ [He spoke even of being guilty before the birds and all creation] …’Yes, he said, ‘all around me there has been such divine glory: birds, trees, meadows, sky, and I alone have lived in disgrace, I alone have dishonored it all, completely ignoring its beauty and glory.’ ‘You take too many sins upon yourself,’ dear mother would say, weeping. ‘But dear mother, joy of my life. I am crying from joy, and not from grief; why, I myself want to be guilty before them, only I cannot explain it to you, for I do not know how to love them. Let me be culpable before all, and then all will forgive me, and that will be paradise. Am I not in paradise now?’

As difficult as it may sound, the reality described by Dostoevsky can be summed up very simply: forgive everyone for everything. Stated in such a blunt fashion, such a goal is overwhelming. How can I forgive everyone for everything? This life of forgiveness, which is nothing other than the life of Christ within us, is our inheritance in the faith. The life of blame, recrimination, bitterness, anger, revenge and the like are not the life of Christ, but simply the ragings of our own egos, the false self which we exalt over our true life which is “hid with Christ in God.”

The rightness of a cause, or the correctness of our judgment do not justify nor change the nature of our ragings. For none of us can stand before God and be justified – except as we give ourselves to the life of Christ, who is our only righteousness.

The question of forgiveness is not a moral issue. We do not forgive because it is the “correct” thing to do. We forgive because it is the true nature of the life in Christ.  As Dostoevsky describes it: it is Paradise. In the same manner, the refusal to forgive, the continuation of blame, recrimination, bitterness, etc., are not moral failings. They are existential crises – drawing us away from the life of Christ and Paradise, and ever deeper into an abyss of non-being.

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/22/forgive-everyone/

St. Isidore the Labourer

St. Isidore the Labourer

March 22

A Spanish daylabourer; b. near Madrid, about the year 1070; d. 15 May, 1130, at the same place. He was in the service of a certain Juan de Vargas on a farm in the vicinity of Madrid. Every morning before going to work he was accustomed to hear a Mass at one of the churches in Madrid. One day his fellow-labourers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. Upon investigation, so runs the legend, the master found Isidore at prayer, while an angel was doing the ploughing for him. On another occasion his master saw an angel ploughing on either side of him, so that Isidore’s work was equal to that of three of his fellow-labourers. Isidore is also said to have brought back to life the deceased daughter of his master and to have caused a fountain of fresh water to burst from the dry earth in order to quench the thirst of his master. He was married to Maria Torribia, a canonized saint, who is venerated in Spain as Maria della Cabeza, from the fact that her head (Spanish, cabeza) is often carried in procession especially in time of drought. They had one son, who died in his youth. On one occasion this son fell into a deep well and at the prayers of his parents the water of the well is said to have risen miraculously to the level of the ground, bringing the child with it, alive and well. Hereupon the parents made a vow of continence and lived in separate houses. Forty years after Isidore’s death, his body was transferred from the cemetery to the church of St. Andrew. He is said to have appeared to Alfonso of Castile, and to have shown him the hidden path by which he surprised the Moors and gained the victory of Las Nevas de Tolosa, in 1212. When King Philip III of Spain was cured of a deadly disease by touching the relics of the saint, the king replaced the old reliquary by a costly silver one. He was canonized by Gregory XV, along with Sts. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Teresa, and Philip Neri, on 12 March, 1622. St. Isidore is widely venerated as the patron of peasants and day-labourers. The cities of Madrid, Leon, Saragossa, and Seville also, honour him as their patron. His feast is celebrated on 15 May.

Permanent link to this article: https://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/22/st-isidore-the-labourer/