The modern age is practically guided by slogans, which Fulton Sheen described as catch-phrases for those who don't know how to think for themselves. Man, was he right.
On the contrary, for those who are called to great levels of leadership, a significant amount of thought and prayer go into a motto which defines what that person is all about and what their mission is. For example, Pope St. Pius X"s motto was "instaurare omnia in Christo" ("to restore all things in Christ"). St. John Paul II's papal motto was Totus Tuus ("Totally Yours"), taken from the prayer of total consecration to Mary written by St. Louis de Montfort.
These motto's defined what their papacy was all about and the particular emphasis they felt called to accomplish in their mission. The same is true for Fulton Sheen who took for his episcopal motto da per matrem me venire ("grant that I may come to you [Jesus] through your mother").
Mary was always an intimate part of Sheen's interior life. His mother laid him on the altar of Mary the day of his baptism and consecrated him to Mary. And when Fulton turned twelve and received his first Holy Communion, he made that consecration to Mary his own, using basically the same words he would choose for episcopal motto many years later.
Sheen carried a profound yet childlike love for Our Blessed Mother and had a special devotion to the site of Mary's 1854 visitations at Lourdes, France. He made it a point to take a pilgrimage to Lourdes with every visit to Europe. He visited the holy site at least thirty times!
And he also had a great love of Our Lady of Fatima. He made about a dozen pilgrimages there as well. He saw Mary's apparitions in these places as preparing the world for a new era that would triumph over the increasing Godless era of the 19th and 20th centuries. He even said, "We are living in the days of the Apocalypse, the last days of our era."
What Sheen meant by that is a literal meaning of the Greek word "apocalypsis," which means "an unveiling". He saw the physical manifestation of the spiritual battle between good and evil, between Christ and anti-Christ reaching a climax in our era. Sheen saw the veil between the natural and the supernatural becoming thinner with each passing day.
Communism and its atheistic and anti-family agenda is the world's greatest enemy. And Sheen saw Mary as the chief spiritual weapon against all its philosophical, anthropological and moral errors. Sheen saw this especially in Mary's role at Fatima, which unveiled Mary's power in a way the world had never seen before.
Precisely how Sheen saw Mary as the answer to Communism and the evil behind our present global crisis will be our subject in the next post. You will not want to miss it.
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