27 February 2012

The Lighter Side

More from Abp. Sheen's autobiography:
Materialists, humanists and atheists all take this world very seriously because it is the only world they are ever going to have. He who possesses faith knows that this world is not the only one, and therefore can be regarded rather lightly: "swung as a trinket about one's wrist." To an atheist gold is gold, water is water and money is money. To a believer everything in this world is a telltale of something else.... I remember once meeting a doorman at the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney. I said to him as I came out of the hotel door: "Oh, it's raining." He put out his hand and said: "You call that rain, Father. That's holy water from Heaven and it's blessing yourself you ought to be doing with it," as he signed himself with the sign of the Cross.
In the early days when I was on national radio, a man came into St. Patrick's Cathedral one Monday morning and, not recognizing me, said: "Father, I want to go to Confession. I commute from Westchester every day. I had three friends with me--all Protesetants. I became very angry and spoke the most disparagingly and bitterly of that young priest that is on the radio, Dr. Fulton Sheen. I just cannot stand him. He drives me crazy. I am afraid that I probably scandalized those men by the way I talked about a priest. So, will you hear my confession?" I said: "My good man, I don't think you committed a serious sin. There are moments in my life when I share exactly the same opinion about Dr. Sheen that you do. Go to Communion and reserve your confession for another day." He left very happily, saying: "It certainly is wonderful to meet a nice priest like you."

I gave many Advent sermons in Blessed Sacrament Parish in Manhattan. During World War II, a woman came into the rectory before Mass and said to me: "Every time I cross Seventy-sixth and Broadway on my way to Mass I get a pain in my left ankle. At that moment, the Blessed Mother speaks to me and says: "Tell Monsignor Sheen that I want him to go to Germany at once to convert Hitler." I said to her: "My dear lady, it's very peculiar that every time I cross Seventy-sixth and Broadway, I get a pain in my right ankle. The Blessed Mother appears to me and says: 'Do not pay any attention to what I told that lady this morning.' " She went away satisfied.

[In] a lecture I was giving to a group of university students in Minnesota... one asked me how Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days. I answered: "I have not the slightest idea, but when I get to Heaven, I will ask Jonah." He shouted back: "Suppose Jonah isn't there." I said: "Then you can ask him."

[A] mother wrote that her son was under her feet in the kitchen and she said to him: "Go into the parlor, turn on the television, listen to Bishop Sheen. He's smart. You will learn something." He did as he was told and at the moment I appeared on television, I was writing the word "sex" on the blackboard. He ran out to his mother and said: "He is not so smart. He doesn't know how to spell six."

18 February 2012

More on Abp. Sheen & Humor at Vatican II: Cardinal Ottaviani, Chicks, Bars, etc.

The amount of humor that anyone gets out of the world is the size of the world in which he lives. Materialists have only this cosmos as the raw material for their humor. Not so with 2,500 bishops, who are using time only for the sake of eternity and who, therefore, live in the heavens by hope as well as on the earth. There is a greater raw material for humor when one expects another life than this one; then there is no burden to take the world too seriously. The humor of the Council came out of the various characterizations that were printed and spoken about those in Council. For example, Cardinal Ottaviani had as his motto Semper Idem (Always the Same). Because he was generally opposed to any changes by the Fathers, stories soon became current that one day he asked the taxi driver to drive him to the Council but the driver took him to Trent, a town in northern Italy where a Council was held in the sixteenth century.

Under the two great tiers which seated about 1,200 bishops on each side of the basilica, there were two coffee bars. It was not long before the Fathers found names for them. One was called Bar-Jona, which was part of the Hebrew name for St. Peter.

Referring to the camaraderie that prevailed among the bishops, this rhyme was composed by a bishop from Australia's great desert at the beginning of the Council:

Call us comrades, or cobbers or mates,
Or even buddies, the term in the States.
Secure in the knowledge
We belong to the College,
With the Pope we're to have tête-à-têtes.

Cardinal Suenens, when he addressed the Council on the subject of women, inspired this humorous reflection:

Said Suenens, in one Congregatio:
I'm weary of this Segregatio.
The Patres are churls,
Let's bring in the girls,
Though there's sure to be some admiratio.

The theologians and other experts or Periti were not allowed to mingle among the Council members. Several of them were conspicuous for slipping into the restricted area, which prompted a jingle ascribed to Cardinal Felice reminding them to remain in their proper places:

Our Secretary's not sympathetic
To an expert who's peripatetic.
He thinks a Peritus
Should remain in his situs
Unless he's rather dyspeptic.

With regard to the sacredness of life and the discussion on the limitation of birth, these lines appeared:

Some moralists claim that the Pill
May be used even though you're not ill.
It gives the ability
To banish fertility
But I can't really think it's God's Will.

Finally, when the time came for the bishops to leave at the closing of the Council, this last rhyme came from Bishop John P. O'Loughlin, who had so delighted the Council Fathers:

As we bishops depart from old Roma
We can proudly display our diploma
At the Council's finale
We say "buon natale"
And "goodbye" to Bar-Jona's aroma.

14 February 2012

Abp. Sheen's Involvement at Vatican II

It was my honor to have been named to a preconciliar commission--namely, the Catholic Action Commission. I recall that several of the members of this commission were very anxious to introduce a chapter into the Council on tourism. I was about the only one who could see no value in such a chapter unless it was to remind the faithful about attendance at the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and Days of Obligation. In order to convince me, the Cardinal who was in charge one day brought a list of the speeches that Pius XI had given in the course of his Pontificate. He pointed out that he had addressed tourist groups four times; if the Pontiff thought such a subject was so important why should not I? That night I took home a review of the talks that the Pontiff had given to other groups and I found that he had addressed urologists five times. The next day I argued that inasmuch as the Holy Father had spoken more to urologists than he had on the subject of tourism, we should therefore have a chapter on urology. I am sure it was the only time there was a defense of urologists given in Latin in a Council. It will be recalled that there was no chapter on tourism in the Council documents.
--Treasure in clay, p. 283

09 February 2012

Offer Spiritual Bouquets to Suffering Catholics in Nigeria

RealCatholicTV.com made a trip to St. Theresa's parish in Madalla, Nigeria, which suffered the Christmas bombings by Boko Haram. You can donate to the parish or offer spiritual bouquets for the victims--many who continue to suffer spiritually, emotionally, and physically--at this link. The donations and spiritual bouquets will be sent directly to the pastor of the parish.

08 February 2012

Gifts for Your Manly Man, Part II

In spite of the fact that the Vagina Monologues has attempted to co-opt this holiday to focus on rape, human trafficking, lesbianism, and all manner of unpleasantness, and Cecile Richards thinks abortion=love, Valentine's Day remains, for the rest of us, a day that signifies romance and l'amour. As the holiday looms, men, single and married, begin to get that feeling of anxiety within as they struggle to think up appropriate gifts for their beloved. Women, too, can wonder what they should get for their fellows.

My dear ladies, know that there is only one thing your man wants on V-Day, and it starts with an s.

That's right: stuff--stuff he'll actually like. (What did you think I was going to say?)

Building on my Christmas wish list, I offer a few more ideas for women to consider this Valentine's Day for their manly man.

DVD collection of any film starring Russell Crowe or directed by Mel Gibson. Since their films generally involve intense action sequences, gore, and men heroically sacrificing their lives or welfare for the sake of others, you can't go wrong.

Women--get creative. Find a nice unused side table or drinks trolley and turn it into a well-stocked bar replete with your fellow's favorite libations. When he arrives home from work, greet him with a kiss and a glass of Jameson's on the rocks, a gin & tonic, a cold Martini, or whatever your man likes. (And if you don't know how to make a good cocktail, you can start here.) And there's no use serving up a cold one if you do so in frumpy bathrobes and unbrushed hair. Pretty yourself up a little before he arrives--you may have spent the entire day breaking up fights among screaming children, washing dishes, putting away a mountain of laundry, and picking up toys, but remember that nothing soothes his soul more than to come home to a contented wife. If you must unload, give a thought to his needs and at least give him enough time to kick off his shoes, have a drink, and relax a bit first...

Chocolate is not just for women. If your fellow has a sweet tooth, get him a few bars of gourmet chocolate--and splurge by buying European, not American. (The Europeans have been at it longer, and it shows.)

If you're in a place that's not too frigid and are near water, rent a sailboat for a day or a half-day. If your man can handle a boat, all the better; if not, you can rent the captain, too. Bring along a basket of sandwiches and wine, sit on the deck taking in the sun and water--and sometime during the trip you might nip down below deck and take in an extended view of the scenery there (sans captain)...

I don't think there's a man out there who wouldn't enjoy, at least once in his life, discharging a firearm. He might never have owned a gun in his life, but the chance to feel the heaviness of cold steel in his palms, to cock that trigger, aim, shoot, and hold firm on the kickback is a bracing experience. An afternoon at the firing range is sure to get his testosterone pumping, and will make for a lively and grateful man afterward...

Not for him, silly--for you. But he'll like them--trust me--especially paired with something like this:

The Word of God is symbolized by the sword, and its Truth cuts through falsehood as the sharpest blade. Your man will love this sword and its leather scabbard, engraved with the words Our Lord showed to Constantine in a vision of the Cross: "By this sign you shall conquer." Constantine went on to win the Battle at the Milvian Bridge, and became the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire, establishing Christianity as the official religion.

Memento mori. Saints and doctors of the Church are often pictured with a skull among their books and papers, to indicate their contemplation of death, and their daily preparation to fit their souls for Heaven. This skull paperweight will help your fellow remember the words he hears as he receives the ashes at the start of each Lent, words we do well to ponder daily: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

This old-fashioned brass shave kit, complete with safety razor, shave brush, and shave soap, will do a superior job smoothing away the bristles, leaving a clean, smooth cheek for you to kiss. Not only will it make his daily chore more enjoyable, it'll also save him money, as the soap lasts 10x longer than a can of shaving foam, and the blades are mere pennies to replace.

Speaking of the Word of God... Because your manly man strives after true holiness--as all true manly men do--you can get him the Bible of Bibles: the Douay-Rheims with Haydock's commentary. Your fellow will spend many happy hours perusing its pages and being filled with the light of the Holy Ghost...

No man can learn true masculinity unless he gets to know the Manly Man par excellence: Our Lord Jesus Christ. These powerful and insightful presentations of The One True Faith by Michael Voris will help your fellow grow in knowledge and love of Our King. And while you're at it, get him a gift subscription to ChurchMilitant.TV--for the true man knows that life is a perpetual warfare against evil--within and without--and this apostolate will equip him to confront and battle that evil with all the spiritual weapons at his disposal, through our Holy Catholic Faith.

Happy Valentine's Day!

04 February 2012

A Love Worthy of the Saints

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was betrothed to Blessed Louis of Thuringia at the tender age of four; he was eleven. She grew up at his court, and suffered much at the hands of his family, although Louis himself always came to her defense. At age 21, Louis married his fiancée, and became king that very year.

Louis was, as one might say, a man's man--strong, virile, he loved the hunt, archery, and all the sports one would expect of a young prince and master of his domain. He went on military campaigns and fought for his kingdom--but always looked forward to the time he could come home to be with his beloved wife. On one campaign, he was forced to stay away all winter, and on his return, it is said "she kissed him with her mouth and in her heart a thousand times and more."

On one occasion, when they were yet to be married, one of Elizabeth's companions found her weeping profusely in the courtyard. Asked what was the matter, Elizabeth said that one of the prince's friends, in an attempt to lure Louis to commit sin, had led a beautiful maiden into Louis's chamber. Elizabeth grieved that the temptation would overcome him and would destroy his soul. But within the chamber, the prince, reacting with anger at his friend, commanded him to take the woman away and send her back where she had come from and never return. It was only after Elizabeth saw the party leave and knew his soul was safe that she dried her tears.

During their marriage, he supported her charity and good works; she gave away so much that his servants complained. On one occasion, she took pity on a leper, bringing him into the royal chamber and laying him in her own bed. On Louis' return, his mother complained that his wife had disrespected her husband by allowing a poor beggar into his bed. Louis, taken aback by this report, went to his room, uncovered the sheets--and saw there, not a beggar, but Our Lord Himself, arms outstretched as on the Cross and bleeding. Stricken with grief, Bd. Louis begged forgiveness for his initial anger and pledged to allow his wife to give from their storehouses whatever God willed.

St. Elizabeth was in the habit of rising in the middle of the night and praying. So tender was her love for her husband that she would often take his hand and hold it, even as he lay asleep, so that they could be united in prayer.

In 1227 he went on crusade, and there was stricken with fever and died. On learning of his death, St. Elizabeth said, "The world is dead to me, and all that is pleasant in it." Although her pain was tremendous, she resigned herself to God's will. "You know, Lord, that his companionship was sweeter to me than anyone else's on earth. But I accept." She would live four years more before she herself would go on to her reward.
Louis, informed no doubt of the woes that afflicted his people, demanded and obtained permission from the Emperor to return to his dukedom. He set out on the 23d of June, 1226, and arrived at Cremona on St. John's eve, just as the people were kindling the fires on the surrounding heights. After having happily crossed the Alps, he took up his quarters with a prince, not named by historians, but who was his near relative and friend. He was received with ceremony and magnificence; and after superb feasting, with music and singing, he was conducted to his sleeping-chamber, where the prince, anxious to test the virtue of his guest, had placed a young woman of extraordinary beauty. But the young duke said immediately to his faithful attendant, the lord de Varila, "Take away this young woman quietly, and give her a mark of silver wherewith to buy a new mantle, that want may not again urge her to expose herself to sin. I say unto thee in all sincerity, that even if adultery were not a sin before God, nor a scandal in the eyes of my fellow men, I would never consent to it, solely through love for my dear Elizabeth, and fear of saddening or troubling her soul."

The next morning, as the prince jested with him on this subject, Louis replied, "Know, my cousin, that to obtain the whole Roman empire I would not commit such a sin."
From The Life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Count de Montalembert