Wonderful news yesterday: the Cause for Canonization of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is reporting that the miracle needed for his beatification has been unanimously approved by the medical experts at the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. This means that his beatification could very well take place sometime this year. Given the policy that was instituted by Pope Benedict XVI, directing that beatifications be done by the local bishop rather than by the pope, the ceremony would likely happen in the United States, probably in Peoria, Illinois, Sheen’s home diocese (and the diocese that has sponsored and undertaken his cause). See more at Brandon Vogt’s blog.
Many of you have “sufficient experience of life” to remember watching Bishop Sheen’s program on television each week; many of us less-experienced types have watched the re-runs. And of course, read his books. The words that he spoke and wrote some 50-60 years ago still resonate today, just as fresh and relevant as they were then. The timelessness of his message is, I think, evidence of his sanctity.
When Sheen was in his heyday, millions of Americans tuned in to watch him – and not just Catholics. He was beloved and respected also by Jews, Protestants, and Atheists. Through his preaching countless people converted to the Catholic faith. He was the first televangelist and – sad to say – the last who was so universally respected and had such a profound effect. But see what holiness can do! In those days the Church, which has never been without her enemies, nevertheless enjoyed a certain place of authority and prominence in American society. Sheen’s show was on a secular network! How far we’ve fallen: nowadays, practically the only mention of God on a secular network is when His name is taken in vain!
It would be good to familiarize ourselves more with this soon-to-be-Blessed, and future Saint, a native son of our beloved United States of America. As I said, his message still has great relevance. I highly recommend his autobiography, “Treasure in Clay” (here is a link for the Kindle Edition). His classic on the priesthood – an edifying read for all, not just for priests – is “The Priest Is Not His Own” (here for Kindle). And, a few times on this blog I have highly recommend his masterpiece, “Life of Christ” (here for Kindle). He wrote many other books, but these are a good start and you will find them very enriching.
You can read more about Archbishop Sheen’s cause for canonization here.