Did Fulton Sheen Prophesy About These Times?

Part 1

A good article for Lent about the Venerable Fulton Sheen’s thoughts on the times we live in and our part in them. Yes, it’s dated in some of the examples he uses, but not all, and the principles and ideas he proclaims are valid always. It’s by Joseph Pronechen and is from The National Catholic Register. We’ve broken it into 2 parts. Here’s part 1

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Did Fulton Sheen Prophesy About These Times?

“The only way out of this crisis is spiritual... The time is nearer than you think.”By Joseph Pronechen

Did Archbishop Fulton Sheen prophesy about these times?

In a talk 72 years ago, Bishop Fulton Sheen appeared as visionary as prophets of old.

“We are at the end of Christendom.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen said during a talk in 1947. Making clear 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.”

Prophetic then, he was already a visionary and forewarning in the Jan. 26, 1947 radio broadcast.

“Why is it that so few realize the seriousness of our present crisis?” he asked 72 years ago. Then gave the answer: “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.”

Certainly seems a snapshot of the usual suspects — the headlines and stories of today. To highlight his point, Sheen emphasized that the “very day Sodom was destroyed, Scripture describes the sun as bright; Balthasar’s realm came to an end in darkness; people saw Noah preparing for the flood 120 years before it came, but men would not believe. In the midst of seeming prosperity, world-unity, the decree to the angels goes forth but the masses go on their sordid routines. As our Lord said: For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:38- 39)

Sheen wondered  if  we’re  even  aware  of  the signs of the times because “basic dogmas of the modern world [were] dissolving before our very eyes.” Replacing them were the assumptions man has (1) “no other function in life than to produce and acquire wealth,” (2) the idea man is naturally good and “has no need of a God to give Him rights, or a Redeemer to salvage him from guilt, because progress is automatic thanks to science-education and evolution, which will one day make man a kind of a god,” and (3) the idea reason isn’t for discovering “the meaning and goal of life, namely the salvation of the soul, but merely to devise new technical advances to make on this earth a city of man to displace the city of God.”

Isn’t technology, advancing at a dizzying rate, demanding the obedience of so much of the population?

Sheen pointed out the signs of the times reveal we’re “definitely at the end of a non-religious era of civilization, which regarded religion as an addendum to life, a pious extra, a morale-builder for the individual but of no social relevance, an ambulance that took care of the wrecks of the social order until science reached a point where there would be no more wrecks; which called on God only as a defender of national ideals, or as a silent partner… but who had nothing to say about how the business should be run.”

Then the great bishop said something that at first seems shocking as we look at today: “The new era into which we are entering is what might be called the religious phase of human history.”

But he quickly said this didn’t mean men will “turn to God.” Rather, they’ll turn from indifference to having a passion  for  “an absolute.” The struggle will be “for the souls of men… The conflict of the future is between the absolute who is the God-man and the absolute which is the man god; the God Who became man and the man who makes himself God; brothers in Christ and comrades in anti- Christ.”

Sheen goes on to describe the anti-Christ, which we’ll leave for another time, other than now to say “his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect.” The saintly bishop brings in Communism, too, which has its place in what’s going on at the time and beyond, as we still see. Remember what Our Lady of Fatima said about Russia spreading its errors (Communism) if the world didn’t heed Our Lady’s directives.

Continuing With Our Times

The farsighted Sheen reminded, “God will not allow unrighteousness to become eternal. Revolution, disintegration, chaos, must be reminders that our thinking has been wrong, our dreams have been unholy. Moral truth is vindicated by the ruin that follows when it has been repudiated. The chaos of our times is the strongest negative argument that could ever be advanced for Christianity… The disintegration following an abandonment of God thus becomes a triumph of meaning, a reaffirmation of purpose…Adversity is the expression of God’s condemnation of evil, the registering of Divine Judgement... Catastrophe reveals that evil is self- defeating; we cannot turn from God without hurting ourselves.”

Sheen gave another reason why a crisis must come — “to prevent a false identification of the Church and the world.” Our Lord wanted his followers to be different from those who were not: I have taken you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  (John 15:19)

Even in those 1947 days Sheen saw “Mediocrity and compromise characterize the lives of many Christians. Many read the same novels as modern pagans, educate their children in the same godless way, listen to the same commentators who have no other standard than judging today by yesterday, and tomorrow by today, allow pagan practices such as divorce and remarriage to creep into the family; there are not wanting, so-called Catholic labor leaders recommending Communists for Congress, or Catholic writers who accept presidencies in Communist front organizations to instill totalitarian ideas in movies. There is no longer the conflict and opposition which is supposed to characterize us. We are influencing the world less than the world influences us. There is no apartness.”

He quoted St. Paul on this very idea telling Corinthians “what has innocence to do with lawlessness? What is there in common between light and darkness? What harmony between Christ and Belial?”

Sheen perfectly mirrored 2018-19 headlines when it comes to people who stand up for the faith, for pro-life, for marriage. “Evil must come to reject us, to despise us, to hate us, to persecute us, and then shall we define our loyalties, affirm our fidelities and state on whose side we stand. How shall the strong and weak trees be manifested unless the wind blows? Our quantity indeed will decrease, but our quality will increase. Then shall be verified the words of Our Master: whoever does not gather with me, scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

 

Joseph Pronechen: © 2019 EWTN News, Inc. Reprinted with permission from the National Catholic Register – www.ncregister.com

Next week, Part 2

 

 

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