I am in full accord with Jim, if there is Sainthood, Bishop Fulton Sheen surely was one of the great ones. My mom and I used to listen to him on TV all the time, a true anti-communist who always spoke the truth.
By Jim O’Neill
The Catholic religion inducts and celebrates its saints, and I would like to know what the holdup is regarding the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979). Why is he not yet a saint?
For those who do not know, Fulton Sheen hosted an extremely popular television show in the 1950s. A number of its episodes can be watched on the internet, so those who were born long after Fulton Sheen’s passing can catch a glimpse of what the man was like.
In his first year on television, Sheen won the Emmy for Most Outstanding Television Personality, winning over media giants Lucille Ball, Arthur Godfrey, Edward R. Murrow, and Jimmy Durante.
Thomas C. Reeves “Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Catholic Media’s Greatest Star”
I say catch a “glimpse” because watching Fulton Sheen in those old black and white videos is to see him through a glass darkly. His vibrant charisma, piercing eyes, authoritative voice, humor, je ne sais quoi, and transcendent spirituality still come through…but somewhat dimmed, as if seen through a dulling patina. Nonetheless, to those with eyes to see, his spiritual greatness is evident.
You might well ask yourself who am I to judge such a thing? A fair enough question. Let me say that I have met spiritually advanced men in my time, holy men – I would call them saintly men. The first time was a darshan, a physical/spiritual meeting, with sufi Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1976 at “The Abode of the Message” in New Lebanon, New York. I have met, talked with, and been hugged by Toltec shaman Don Miguel Ruiz (the hug felt like getting mugged by love) at a private home in St. Petersburg, Florida. I have experienced the personal presence and power of the late Dr. David R. Hawkins in Sedona, Arizona. There are others, some well-known, others not so much.
I certainly make no claim to holiness – far from it. I figure that friends and family will let me know if I’m ever ready to pose for holy cards…but I have yet to notice any move in that direction on their part, and I’m not holding my breath in anticipation. Nonetheless, I know a thing or two about divinity, and can sense its aura when I see/feel it. And Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen definitely had/has that aura. Even looking at it through a glass darkly it is obvious to me.
I vaguely remember my mom and dad, especially my mom, watching the Fulton Sheen TV shows back in the 1950s but I was just a wee lad and certainly no aficionado of the show. By chance (or God’s grace) I recently stumbled upon an old video of his: “The Divine Sense of Humor.” It was the first Fulton Sheen TV show that I can recall watching – certainly the only one I have watched as an adult. And it floored me.
Which is the reason for this article, for I thought to myself “Surely this man has been granted sainthood by the Catholic Church” – but when I researched it on the internet I found that no, he has not been canonized, although Fulton Sheen has advanced along the road to sainthood as far as gaining the title “Venerable.”
Before a person is considered to be venerable, that person must be declared as such by a proclamation, approved by the Pope, of having lived a life that was “heroic in virtue”, the virtues being the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The next steps are beatification, from which point the person is referred to as The Blessed, and finally canonization, from which point he or she is referred to as Saint.
“Venerable” is good, but it is not good enough…not for Fulton J. Sheen. When I watched his TV show the other day I was struck by not only what he spoke about, but also how he said it. There is no doubt that he was a powerful orator, but he humbly submitted that power to the glory of God.
A person who has a sense of humor sees the world as something like a window. It’s transparent, it looks out on to another world. …He looks out upon the world and does not see the things an ordinary person sees. …When our blessed Lord came to this earth He had the divine sense of humor. There was nothing in this world that He ever took seriously — except the salvation of the soul. …[Jesus] was telling them the story that this body of His was opaque to those eyes that did not see from a good will, but it was transparent of divinity to those who had this sense of the invisible. Human nature was a kind of flesh, or veil, fleshy veil, through which divinity shone.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen “The Divine Sense of Humor”
His words caused me to think about the sad foolishness of those people who insist that only those things which they can validate by grasping and holding, measuring and counting, are worthy of their consideration. They have willfully and voluntarily, severely and unnecessarily, truncated and limited their reality in a way that is logically puerile, emotionally crippling, and spiritually stunted.
That which is unseen, that which is spiritual, does not, and cannot, logically have meaning for such benighted souls. The very things that give life meaning are denied them. Love, hope, joy…these and countless other invisible emotions, powers, realities, are denied them — unmeasurable things, spiritual things if you will. You cannot weigh love, or hope, or life itself, and yet without them existence loses its purpose, passion, and point. Conscious, awareness itself, is invisible, intangible, ineffable, and yet without it we would, could, not even know that we exist.
You cannot measure infinity, you cannot measure God. So, the poor unfortunate materialists limit themselves at every turn and their world closes in on them. Only those who recognize and value both the seen and the unseen, understand the constrictive nature of the limited materialistic human ego, as opposed to the expansive and freeing nature of spirit. Materialists have no clue what they are missing. Those of us with an appreciation for the unseen divine, however, do have an idea of what we are missing, and we yearn for more of it.
Be that as it may, we were speaking of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I am a non-denominational Christian, with a dash of Sufism, Buddhism, and Toltec teachings thrown in, so I doubt that the Catholic Church’s ecclesiastical hierarchy are especially eager to receive any missives from me – but I know that Catholics will read this article, and the church will listen to you (at least it ought).
If enough of you agree with me that Fulton Sheen should be canonized, and raise a fuss, then perhaps this saintly man can at last receive his just due. And we need some miracles here – generally two. Since the 1970s it traditionally takes two bona fide miracles directly attributable to a holy person’s intercession to qualify for sainthood…but I figure that’s more God’s department. God’s will be done. Laus Deo.