More recently, pictures were released of former Olympic Star Bruce Jenner, who altered his body with hormones and surgery and now claims to now be a woman named “Caitlyn.” Any public figure who dares to continue to call the man “Bruce” is now accused of being hatefully bigoted and is viciously attacked by mobs of rabid online thought and language police. With the current administration, media, television, music, art and education systems supporting such notions, it is becoming easier to see the writing on the wall. New generations of children are being brought up in a world where there is no more black and white morality, but only a confusing mess of gray.
It is in this context of increasing government and establishment hostility to bedrock tenets of Christianity that the following advice shines. Fr. Fulton Sheen first gave this address on February 7, 1937. Although he refers to the Communists and “Lenites”, one can easily make the parallel to the sort of state that is quickly approaching in the West. When Fr. Sheen uses the term “liberalism” in his address he is not referring to theological liberalism or what has come to be known as modern political liberalism. Rather, he is referring to the opposite extreme of Communism, which is similar to the sort of radical unrestrained capitalism or Neo-conservative politicians advocate today.
In this stirring address from 80 years ago, Fr. Sheen amazingly gives us the antidote to our current crisis, getting to the very heart of the solution. I encourage you all to please read this very important address. It is one of the few things I have come across that brings me a modicum of consolation in the world of madness we are currently descending to.
Address delivered by Fr. Fulton Sheen on February 7, 1937.
In today's broadcast, the subject of which is Spirituality, it is hoped to prove that the world crisis can be healed only by forces not directly involved in the crisis itself. A sick man, for example, must rely on medicine for his cure; a ship must anchor outside itself; an eagle can fly only by the aid of something non-eagle, namely, the air. In like manner, modern civilization cannot lift itself out of the chaos by the boot straps of the economic and the political, but only by a power other than the political and the economic and therefore something not directly involved in its ruin. Important as the political and the economic are, it is still more important to hearken back to Our Lord’s plan of social reconstruction through spiritual regeneration. His method was to make economic and social justice the byproduct of Christian living. He reminds us that a purely secular civilization cannot save itself, because natural man has not sufficient moral strength to sacrifice himself for the common good. That is why He saved the world by dying for it--to teach us that without Him and His Spirit of Sacrifice we could do nothing. That too is why He gathered around Himself a group of men whom He imbued with totally different ideals than the world and radically different means to attain those ideals. "I have chosen you out of the world", He said; and He literally lifted them physically out of the world by putting them in a desert place apart, and spiritually out of the world by imbuing them with a new spirit and the primacy of things Divine. "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” When He had regenerated them and made them new with the fires of His Spirit, He sent them back again into the world - but they were no longer the same men. They were different men.
That is why He said: "If the world hate you know you that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” More than this, He told them they were to risk everything on His way of living, to be prepared to be hated by brother and sister, father and mother, to be dragged before magistrates and kings, and even to be led to death. There was to be no turning back, for any man putting his hand to the plow and looking back was fit for the Kingdom of God. The dead were to bury their dead, but they were to follow Him by taking up their cross daily, that is, by being prepared to lead an absolutely selfless life for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
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This whole-hearted surrender to Christ is the only spirit which will conquer the world today, for the world is through accepting half-baked philosophies of life and milk-and-water religions. We are living in days of fire and blood when men want something that makes demands on them, and possesses both their bodies and their souls. Only enthusiastic apostles and zealous disciples who are willing to sacrifice and even to die will be heard in this day. That is why Communism is making an appeal; despite its enslaving materialism the men who preach it believe in it. They have taken the word "Leaven” used by Our Lord and changed it to "Cell"; they have taken the word "Mass'" and changed it to "Front". Burning with zeal for their cause, they ask for only a few men filled with the spirit of Marx and willing to sacrifice everything for that spirit, and with this "cell" they threaten to ferment and foment the whole "front". They say: "Give us three or four good Communists inspired with a hatred of Capitalism, with the doctrine of class struggle and the spirit of revolution, and let us put them into a labor union and we will communize the whole union. Give us three or four university professors who are on fire for the dialectics of materialism, and even though their students do not understand it, we will communize the whole university." Such zeal can be met only with zeal, such courage only with courage, and such sacrifice only with sacrifice. No Liberal was ever willing to incommode himself for Liberalism, but Communists are very willing to sacrifice themselves for Communism. In this day of intense loyalties the sleek repose of Christians who will not sacrifice them selves for the things of God cannot meet the new challenge. It will take a great faith in Christ to put down faith in anti-Christ; it will take nothing less than the sacrifice of the Cross to conquer the sacrifice of those who crucify.
May it not be that God is, by the mysterious ways of His Providence, already shifting the wheat of apostolic souls from the chaff of the indifferent. As a matter of fact the purging has already gone on in some countries. God is, as it were, choosing disciples from the multitude and apostles from the disciples, and Peters and James and Johns from among the apostles. The persecution of the Church in Mexico, in Russia, in Spain, and in Germany has meant an increase and a decrease-an increase in the quality of the Church, and decrease in quantity. Numbers mean little to the Church, but spirituality means everything. It may very well be then that God is preparing the Church for the future battle or future peace by a spiritual purification in which only the strong will walk with Him. What was true in the days of Gideon is true in our own day. Gideon, it will be recalled, battled the Madianites whose army numbered 135,000 men. Gideon asked if God would be with him and received the sign through the sign of the fleece. Sounding the trumpet, Gideon gathered an army of 32,000 men. God told him his army was too large; the children of Israel might think they conquered because of the force of their arms, rather than the power of God. Gideon then asked all fearful and timorous men to leave, and 22,000 cowards left the ranks. But even that army was too large, God told Gideon, and He bade him take his army to the waters. All who lapped the water in the hands after the fashion of men of action were to be placed on one side of the river; those who lay prone on the ground to drink at their ease were to be put on the other side of the river. And of the 10,000 men only 300 lapped the water with their hands. With that trivial army of only 300 men Gideon went out and put to flight the army of 135,000 and Israel had peace for forty years. The moral is that 300 zealous souls who rely on God can do more than 32,000 in different ones who trust in their arms; and also, that no enemy is too great if God is with us.
It is difficult to convince our contemporaries of this truth, that our ills are not only political and financial but fundamentally moral and religious. They almost identify the moral aspect of the problem with the impractical. Perhaps this analogy will help to impress upon minds the primacy of the spiritual in matters economic and political. Suppose America were conquered by a foreign power, whom, for the sake of avoiding odious references we shall call the Lenites. Suppose a Lenite tetrarch was set up in Washington ; suppose our religion was called a "barbaric superstition"; suppose Lenite soldiers walked through our streets, collected our taxes, and now and then induced some American to work for them and collect taxes from their fellowmen ; sup pose the capital of the United States as transfer red to Lenopolis; suppose we no longer had the right to coin our money; suppose the judges of our courts had no power of life and death over our citizens, but only a Lenite court could impose death, and did so freely; suppose the Lenitians regarded us as men tally and socially inferior, despite the fact that we loved our independence and were fond of our glorious history.
Now, suppose furthermore, the Incarnation had not yet taken place, and Our Lord was born in some insignificant Bethlehem in America; and about the time we are speaking would have reached the middle of His Public Life. Now let me ask the question: In the midst of such financial, political, and economic woes what do you think would be the first question Americans would ask Our Lord?
It would be without doubt: "Do you think it is lawful to pay tribute to Lenites?” Or in other words, "What do you think of the Lenitian question?” The economic and the political and not the need of purging ourselves would be uppermost in our minds. And how would Our Lord have answered the question? Fortunately we need not speculate. We definitely know the answer, for the conditions I described to you are identically -the same as Our Lord met in Israel. Israel was conquered by the Romans in the year 63 B. C. Their capital became Rome ; their religion was called by Cicero in his oration against Flaccus "an abominable superstition"; Roman soldiers policed their streets and induced some Jews to gather taxes for them; these Jews called "publicans", of which Matthew was one, were intensely hated by their fellow men. The Jews had not the power of coining money. It is recorded of one Rabbi that he so detested the payment of his tribute that during his whole lifetime he never looked upon the image of the emperor. The Jewish judges had no power of life and death-that is why only Pilate and not Annas or Caiphas could condemn Christ to death. Finally, the Jews loved their great national history, but the Romans such as Tacitus spoke of them as an "abominable tribe".
Into such conditions Our Lord was born. And what was the first question of importance to them: It was the political question; the financial question; the social question : the "What do you think of the Romans" question. "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?"
And how did Our Lord answer it? "Bring me a penny that I may see it." The coin is handed to Him. "Whose is this image and inscription?" "Caesar's," they answer. Then He strikes. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God’s.” In other words, the important problem is not the Roman problem or the Lenite problem, but the spiritual problem: "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his jus tice, and all these things will be added unto you." And so He left Caesar on his throne, Pilate on his judgment seat, Herod in his court, and sent out His Apostles full of the spirit of God and conquered a world!
The social order we build will depend upon how we answer the question: What is the purpose of living? If life has no other goal than the dust, then we will build an order either of individual selfishness, which is· Liberalism, or of collective selfishness, which is Communism; for if this life is all, why should we not have all? But if life is moral, and the way we live in charity, justice, peace, and sacrificing, determines our existence in the next world, then what doth it profit if we gain the whole world and lose our immortal souls? These two philosophies of life are the Communistic and the Christian; one material, the other spiritual. Communists have only one word in their vocabulary and that is the word "Down"-"Down with Capitalism! Down with the Rich! Down with the Bourgeoisie! Down with the Wealthy! Down with Governments! Down with Classes! Down with Religion! Down with God!"
Heavens above! Is there not another word in our vocabulary upon which we can build a true social order? Can one build anything down? Must not everything that is built be built upwards? Let there be another order constructed upon the word “Up!" "Up from Class-struggle! Up from Hate! Up from Revolution! Up from the material! Up from the dust! Up beyond the earth, beyond the stars, up to the ‘hid battlements of eternity'-Up-Up to God!"