Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Archbishop Sheen talks about: Choices

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on January 19, 2009

For the next few weeks (or however long God desires it) I will review a series of talks given by Archbishop Fulton SheenI will try as best as I can to quote him accurately – thus all his direct quotes will appear italicized and in “quotation marks”



Two Examples of choice:

“The alternatives of our eternal destiny are always before us…after all, heaven or hell is before us everyday.  But there come great moments, too, when we make great decisions for much of our life.”

First: an Englishman that Sheen had met said he had never met one good man or one good woman in his life, including himself.  A life style of debauchery was his.  One woman after another, with only a few weeks in between each, was his common practice.  Having never shared a meal with a priest before, I suppose the man was fascinated to see how this priest would react.  Sheen reacted not as the man expected.  Impressed by Sheen, the man offered to walk him back to his hotel.  Sheen admitted that he was going to a place not known for its good living.  The man asked, “why?”  Sheen simply said,

“There is something else in the hill of Mon Marte, besides dives, there is a great basilica there, a basilica of the Sacred Heart.  And every night, for over 50 years there are 1000 men in prayer, all night long.  I induced him to come with me, he said ‘how long?’, and I said, ‘I will leave when you are ready to leave, though I intend to stay all night’.  He made no move to go until the sun came up…and I read Mass.  As we came down the hill he said, ‘Will you stay…and teach me to be good?  It’s the first time in my life that I’ve ever come in contact with goodness.’

Sheen agreed to meet this man the next evening for dinner.  The man met Sheen but had another woman in tow.  Intending that all of them should go out to dinner together, Sheen instead insisted that the man make a choice.  Either he could go to dinner with Sheen or he could return to his former way of life and go with the woman – a new woman different from the first one Sheen was introduced to.

“He walked up and down the courtyard a couple of times and came back and said, ‘Well Father, I think I will go out with…her.  And that’s the end of the story.  The choice was made after having received a GREAT GRACE… That was a choice for evil.  Another kind of choice…”

Second: Sheen spent many years in London serving in a parish in Soho.  One morning, after opening the church, a woman fell into the church, drunk, cold, and very sorrowful.  Her life was a bit of a misery.  She had money and fame, and three men in-love with her… until they found out about each other.  After giving her a cup of coffee to warm her up, the lady said thank you, but Sheen refused the thanks saying:

“Come back this afternoon and thank me.  She said, ‘I will on one condition, that you do not ask me to go to confession.’  I said, ‘Very well.  I will not ask you to go to confession.”

The young woman had been baptized and received into the Catholic Church years prior, for she admitted to once being Catholic, though she “was no more”.  She knew enough to call Sheen ‘Father’ since he was a Catholic priest as opposed to a protestant minister who would have bared the title, ‘Reverend’ or ‘Vicar’.  Yet confession is not something she wanted to do.

“She said, ‘I want you to promise me, faithfully, that you will not ask me to go to confession.’ I said, ‘I promise you faithfully that I will not ask you to go to confession.’  She came back that afternoon, before the matinee, and I said, ‘We have two paintings in this church that are very notable.  Would you like to see them?’  As I took her down the side isle of the church, I pushed her into a confessional.  I always keep my promises.  Two years later I gave her her veil as a nun…so that cold January morning another choice had to be made, it was a choice for good.”

Sheen then gives us two more examples from the O.T.  When God spoke to Moses and said that the children of God will either receive blessings or curses, pending on their faithfulness to the commands of the Lord (cf. Deut 28:1-2, 15; 30:19-20).  In the N.T., Our Lord speaks about entering heaven by the “narrow gate” though it be hard and the road seems small by comparison to the opposite road that “is wide, leading to perdition (Hell).  Those who fine the narrow road are few.

“This was much more intelligible… when the city was surrounded by walls.  There was a great gate that opened up on to the highway, a very narrow gate, the narrow road that lead into separate houses…”

St. Teresa of Avila talks about the different houses of heaven, the mansions that await us there, the Place that Jesus went to prepare for us (cf. Jn 14:2).  Does this not make sense that which is figurative can also be quite literal?

The King invited many people to the Wedding Feast of his son, but no one came.  His servants were sent out to gather as many as they could find.  When they came, the King went among them and found one not dressed appropriately.  ‘How did this man get in?’ asks the King.  No one answers.  The King addresses the man, ‘How did you get into the Wedding when you have not the proper attire?’  The man said nothing, the King had him thrown out, and none too gently – out into the darkness ‘where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (cf. Mt 221-13).

Next Post:  “Choices”, Part II

Previous Posts

Cross of Christ
Fulton Sheen: Cross… Part I

Fulton Sheen: Cross…  Part II
Fulton Sheen: Cross… Part III


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