No, I am not trying to rename myself or blend my identity with my hero. The truth is better . . . Peter, not Fulton, was Sheen's original name when he was born 125 years ago on 8 May 1895.
And as I have said so many times, major "marking" anniversaries (like 100,125, etc.) matter , whether they are personal or historical. In Sheen's case there are two big ones being celebrated over the next four months. Today marks the 125th birthday of Fulton Sheen's birth and we are currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fulton Sheen's priestly ordination.
Coincidence? In these times especially. . . there are NO coincidences. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, everything that is unfolding and coinciding with major historical markers like the 100th anniversary of Fatima the other significant anniversaries that converged with it setting up for what John Paul II called "the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through".
And for these times God gave the Church and the world a tremendous prophet who outlines us the way to victory and peace. His name is Peter "Fulton" Sheen.
In the case of this great man, the question "What's in a name" is very appropriate. And in his name can be summarized the gift of his life and legacy for our times.
"Peter" -- "The Rock". Sorry, Dwayne Johnson, there is a much "bigger" figure than you who deserves that honorable name. From his earliest days, Sheen was an extremely hard worker and when that was funneled into working for souls as a fisher of men, you would not have found a more dedicated priest than Peter Sheen. His faith was that of a rock, especially since his mystical experience while in seminary that gave him an absolute certitude of the truth of the Catholic Faith as received in the Creed. And Peter Sheen had an unshakeable love and loyalty to the successor of St. Peter, no matter who it was and no matter what flaws he may have perceived. I apply to Peter Sheen one of my favorite lines of Frances Parkman when describing St. Jean de Brebeuf staring evil and martyrdom in the face: "The indomitable priest stood like a rock." This was Sheen in the face of the spiritual and moral tempest of the 20th century. Nothing shook him or intimidated him out of his mission to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord into souls.
"Fulton" -- Gaelic for "War". As a young boy Peter Sheen later took the name Fulton after his mother's maiden name. And this was to be providential. I always found it interesting that Sheen assumed this name and not went through some legal change of name. So you might say that "Fulton" was added to Peter and thereby revealing the second major characteristic of this man. Sheen's entire life was proclaiming to the world what the real war is that modern man must win -- or we will end up in endless and progressively worse world wars that will bring utter ruin to humanity.
Sheen's battle plan to win the war was simple: 1) bring the world back to God (through adoration of the Blessed Sacrament); 2) love Our Blessed Mother and do whatever she tells us as she did at Fatima (daily Rosary especially); and lastly, 3) Get over your ego! Get rid of it! Reduce it to zero! As Sheen put it, "That's what burns in hell . . . the ego!" You can only get rid of your ego through sacrificial love, which is what defined Fulton's 60 years of priesthood. He gave every dime of the millions and millions of dollars he made on television and radio to the missions and those whom he knew needed it most.
"Sheen" -- Gaelic for "Peace". Mary said at Fatima, "In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be peace." If we follow Fulton's battle plan, which was that of Our Lady of Fatima, then the world would conquer the Godless, beastly and self-destructing "errors of Russia"and experience her promised triumph and an era of peace. As Sheen taught, we must first win the war within man and then we can create peace in the external world. And that peace began with humility and spending an hour a day with Our Lord, where we find our true peace and power to bring about peace without the physical sword.
Hard work, sacrificial and generous love, living the message of Fatima every day, reducing your ego to zero, unswerving love for the successor of St. Peter, making a daily holy hour . . . these are the marks of a great and holy man given for our times to show us the way to rock-like fidelity to the Church in the midst of the storm (Peter), the battle plan to win the war within the hearts of men (Fulton), and the path that brings true peace of soul at a time when the devil is throwing everything he can to steal that peace from us (Sheen).
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of the life and legacy of Venerable Peter Fulton Sheen.
Venerable, Fulton Sheen, Pray for us.
God love you!
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