24 August 2011

Get out!

A nice little anecdote about Abp. Fulton Sheen, recounted by this fine fellow:
It was the United States’ Bicentennial, July 4, 1976. As part of the celebrations, Archbishop Fulton Sheen was delivering the guest homily at the noon Mass that day and I was one of the altar boys.

I was fourteen and had heard about Sheen from my Dad. I’d heard he used to be on national television every week and quite regularly placed number one. Even at my young age of 14, I knew that was a big deal. So, I knew instinctively when I got picked to serve the Mass that this was a big deal.

But it was what happened AFTER Mass that I remember most vividly. In the sacristy, he was visiting with us altar boys, smiling and cracking jokes about too much incense... He was being a kindly old grandpa figure. He was 76 and this was three years before he went back to Our Blessed Lord.

Suddenly a younger...neatly dressed hippie came into the sacristy from the other side of the room and started walking toward Sheen brandishing a book of which he said he was the author. He said he’d just come back from the Far East after some years and had written this book and combined the best of Catholicism with Eastern Mysticism and he would like Sheen to read it.

With all the justifiable anger he could muster Sheen wheeled around and shouted--and I mean shouted at the man--"Get out! Get out! The Catholic Faith is a gift from Almighty God and I will not have you polluting it. GET OUT!"

Within a moment he returned to his grandpa self with us and resumed joking.

I’ll never forget that scene. That was 35 years ago. I’ll NEVER forget that scene.

Of course, today, many in the culture would say Sheen was some cranky old man with some personality disorder. Many in the Church would say he was not charitable enough; he should have sat down and dialogued with the man, exercised more prudence, not been as judgmental, blah, blah, blah.
More like this, please!

Catholics taken aback by the archbishop's reaction perhaps need to be reminded of this: the Archbishop understood--as so few today understand--that, there in the presence of Our Lord in the tabernacle, before the altar where the Holy Sacrifice had just taken place, they stood on holy ground. One who struts arrogantly into this sacred place waving a book blaspheming Our Lord should expect nothing less than a stern rebuke--which the good bishop had the moral clarity (and manliness) to give. Would that we had more shepherds made of such stock.
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