Our Lady and Sheen

Conflict between God-religion and State-religion

Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his 1947 (get that? 1947) book “Characters of the Passion,” looks deeply at Pontius Pilate, and his role in the Passion of Christ as “A Lesson in Political Power.”  This chapter is dedicated to the events but also the deeper meaning of the events that were to occur early in the morning on Good Friday.

It may do religion no good to oppose state-religion, for the modern state is armed and the Church is not.  Religion may even be buffeted between an ancient judge who thinks that it is expedient that one man die rather than the whole nation perish, and a modern judge who feels that it is expedient that all the people should die for one man who is a dictator.  It may hear from the lips of modern Pilates the words of power: “Do you not know that I have the power to condemn you?”  But there will always come back to them the soft voice of Christ: “You would have no power unless it were given to you from above.” – (pg 43-44)

Throughout the ages we have suffered persecution, we have been lucky in very modern times, at least in the United States, where these have not been persecutions of death and destruction of the physical.  Not long ago, men we still know were engaged in a struggle against a tyrant in Germany, who could not be brought to heel by the power of morality and instead cost millions of lives to cast off.  Yet, even just two years after this horrendous and costly war, Archbishop Sheen is not writing about that dictator of the past, but rather a darker future that we face.

We see in the prophecy of the Holy Servant of God, that times will become tough again, as they were in the ancient times of the catacombs, and that we will be forced, like our beloved Lord, to face the government in trials.  We know from scripture that the answer will be provided for us when we are brought before the magistrates of temporal power.  We know the judgement that was wrought on Our Lord, and should expect nothing more than the Master.  But, because we expect nothing more that the Master received, we can Hope also in the Resurrection.  Sheen continues:

But whatever the reason for these trying days, of this we may be certain: The Christ Who suffered under Pointius Pilate signed Pilate’s death warrant; it was not Pilate who signed Christ’s.  Christ’s Church will be attacked, scorned, and ridiculed, but it will never be destroyed.  The enemies of God will never be able to dethrone the heavens of God, nor to empty the tabernacles of their Eucharistic Lord, nor to cut off all absolving hands, but they may devastate the earth. (pg 45)

These words remind us of the power of the State, but more importantly they remind us of the power of God, with whom the world is nothing.  How can the Gates of Hell prevail against the church?  Simple, they cannot.  Christ’s promise to Peter stands firm, more firm than anything we can imagine, because they are the words of Christ who is the Word.  When the world attempts to destroy God, it will fail miserably because the world can not reach God.  God condescends himself and comes to us, we can not, of our own accord, climb to Heaven.

If I were in the position that God has, I would be tempted to laugh at those who thought they could harm me, but God in his infinite Love and Mercy looks at those, His children, that would rebel against Him and weeps.  Once again, the pain of the Cross is magnified by the scourging at the pillar.  He looks on His martyrs and prepares them robes of dazzling white.  He looks on those who would shed their blood, and hopes to reconcile as a Father, not wishing to lose any of His children.

I pray that you and I never face the persecutions of old.  I pray we have strength to face even the call to white martyrdom.  I pray most of all that at the Judgement, we each go into the Heavenly banquet because of the love of Christ, poured out on the Cross for all mankind.

Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for us.

Fulton Sheen, Pray for us.


April 7, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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